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On this episode of China Uncensored:
China has just built a ginormous bridge connecting
the Chinese mainland with Hong Kong and Macau.
Good for drivers,
so-so for freedom.
Actually, not that good for drivers either.
Welcome to China Uncensored.
I'm your host, Chris Chappell.
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge
officially opened to the public on Tuesday.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping even made
a special trip to attend the ceremony,
coming all the way from the Hundred Acre Wood.
“Yay for me.”
Now the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge
is the world's longest sea bridge:
34 miles end to end.
It's been dubbed the “bridge of death”.
Sorry—that's not as metal as it sounds.
They call it that because
so many construction workers died making it.
At least 19 people were killed and hundreds seriously injured.
Also, the bridge was completed two years past deadline
and nearly 1.5 billion dollars over budget.
But never mind all the financial problems and dead people!
The bridge will be good for the economy.
"It is envisaged that the collaboration between Guangdong,
Hong Kong and Macau,
in terms of trade, finance, logistics,
and tourism will be strengthened.
Hong Kong will assume a more proactive role
in the development of the Greater Bay area.”
The Greater Bay Area is a hub made up of nine cities
in mainland China's Guangdong province:
Shenzhen, Huizhou, Dongguan, Guangzhou,
Foshan, Zhaoqing, Jiangmen, Zhongshan, and Zhuhai,
along with the two Special Administrative Regions
of Macau and Hong Kong.
Compared to other “Bay Areas”—
like Tokyo, New York and San Francisco—
China's Greater Bay Area has by far the largest population,
but the lowest GDP per capita.
Speaking of the economy, the cost of the bridge
was originally estimated to break even after 36 years.
But like I said earlier, it's just a tad over budget,
plus it looks like they may have overestimated
how many people would be using the bridge,
so it will take a little longer.
One Chinese professor says it could take more than 72 years.
72 years!
By that time,
I'll almost have finished paying off my student loans.
The official reason for the bridge is to reduce trade barriers
by being a faster and simpler way to travel
between cities in the region.
Granted, it's not quite as simple as crossing a bridge in,
say, the San Francisco Bay Area—
where all you need is one of those
FasTrak devices behind your windshield.
Because to cross the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge,
you need three separate permits,
each of which has a completely different application process.
The process is so convoluted that the government
had to make this two-and-a-half minute animated video
just to explain it.
Oh, and did I mention that in addition to
the the three separate permits,
you also need separate vehicle insurance
for each of the three regions,
and you have to reserve a parking space
at least 12 hours in advance?
“It's simple and convenient.”
But the good news is that most people won't even have
to deal with all of those permits and insurance issues.
Because in Hong Kong,
they're capping the number of private cars
that can use the bridge at 10,000.
Who's eligible to apply?
Hong Kong tech companies who pay
a certain amount of taxes in mainland China.
If you're a Hong Kong resident,
you can also either donate 5 million yuan—
that's more than 700,000 dollars—
in mainland China,
or you can be a member of the National People's Congress
or the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
“at national, provincial, prefecture
and county levels of Guangdong province.”
I guess the People's Republic
didn't exactly build the people's bridge.
For other, less elite, Hongkongers,
you can still take the shuttle buses
that will be going across the bridge.
But you might be better off just taking the ferry.
Especially when you factor in
all the bridge-related construction scandals.
Like the one in which a former technician admitted to
faking the quality test results of concrete because...
he “was just lazy.”
Or when in 2016 officials admitted that
“technical problems had caused
drifting of an artificial island
that housed facilities for the bridge.”
Or when “aerial photos emerged showing
that interlocking concrete blocks
placed around the edges of the island
had drifted away.”
But you know what they say in China:
“Safety, schmafety.”
What's that, Shelley?
OK, I'm being told no one in China says that.
At least not out loud.
But they do have a common saying: “chàbuduō”—
which means “good enough.”
And for the sake of all the people
who'll be crossing that bridge,
I hope it is.
But despite all the things that make
the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge so, so great,
some people still have concerns.
And Hong Kongers, with their dangerous freedom of speech,
are even so reckless as to express their concerns in public.
Like Hong Kong lawmaker Claudia Mo.
“The bridge is a waste of money,” she told CNN.
“When it comes to linking the mainland to Hong Kong,
we have air, sea and land linkages already.
Why do we need this extra project?”
I mean, sure those billions of dollars could have been
spent on things like affordable housing,
or fixing Hong Kong's outdated water management system.
But I think the answer to Mo's question is pretty obvious...
because she goes on to explain it herself.
“[The bridge] links Hong Kong to China
almost like an umbilical cord.
You see it,
and you know you're linked up to the motherland.”
And motherland always knows best!
What better way to integrate Hong Kong and Macau
into the political system of mainland China than
by making it easy and seamless to travel between them!
Soon, borders will disappear.
Along with Hong Kong's pesky freedoms.
I guess it's a good thing they still have
some work to do on the ease-of-use front.
So what do you think about
the new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge?
Leave your comments below.
And before we go,
it's time to answer a question
from a fan of China Uncensored
who contributes to us
through the crowdfunding website Patreon.
Karl Diaz asks:
“What is China's best outcome from the midterm elections?”
Interesting question, Karl.
I'd say the Chinese Communist Party wants
Democrats to win majorities in the House
and Senate in the US midterms.
But it's not because they like Democrats better.
They just believe it would make it harder
for Trump to get things done.
They're right, but not in the way that matters most to them.
Because while Trump would have to fight a Democratic Congress
harder on most of his domestic policies,
there's already wide bipartisan support for most of
Trump's tactics for dealing with the Chinese regime—
including those trade tariffs.
In fact, criticizing the Chinese regime
has become one of the few unifying positions in US politics.
The fact is, the Chinese Communist Party is...
confused by Trump.
They expected him to talk tough on China
as a presidential candidate,
like other past candidates,
but then soften his stance when he became the president,
like other past presidents.
And at first, it looked like that might happen.
But now it's pretty clear that the Trump administration
is changing the US approach to China.
And the Chinese Communist Party is not sure how to handle this.
So they may not criticize Trump directly,
but they sure want to undermine him.
Thanks for your question, Karl.
And remember, you too can have your question answered
on China Uncensored when you become a Patreon supporter.
Join us at Patreon.com/ChinaUncensored
and contribute a dollar or more per episode.
Thanks for watching China Uncensored.
Once again, I'm Chris Chappell.
See you next time.
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China Unveils World's Longest Sea Bridge

91 Folder Collection
Makoto published on October 30, 2018
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