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China Celebrates Opening of New Mega Bridge Linking Hong Kong, Macau

An evening view of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and its entrances to a cross sea tunnel, off Lantau island in Hong Kong, China October 21, 2018, before its opening ceremony on October 23, 2018.

China has opened the world's longest ocean-crossing bridge connecting the mainland with Hong Kong and Macau, the latest sign of Beijing's tightening grip on its semi-autonomous territories.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and the leaders of the three cities were on hand in the southern city of Zhuhai for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, complete with digital fireworks exploding on a screen behind him.

The 54-kilometer, $20 billion project, which includes an underwater tunnel, links Zhuhai with the financial hub of Hong Kong and the gambling destination of Macau across the Pearl River delta. Construction on the bridge began in 2009, and was dogged by numerous delays and cost overruns. Traffic will begin crossing the bridge on Wednesday.

The inauguration of the Zhuhai-Hong Kong-Macau bridge comes a month after China opened a new high-speed rail line between Hong Kong and the mainland, which has raised concerns that Beijing is slowly encroaching on the freedoms the territory has enjoyed under the "one country, two systems" formula established when Britain relinquished control in 1997.

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