In Brief

Safety fears about world's longest bridge dismissed by Chinese officials

Parts of 34-mile bridge connecting Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai reportedly floating away

Chinese authorities overseeing the construction of the world’s longest sea bridge have denied reports that parts of the multibillion-dollar structure have begun drifting away.

The 34-mile-long bridge will connect Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China, alongside an undersea tunnel, new roads and artificial islands.

However, concerns have been raised after aerial photos taken earlier this month appeared to show that the concrete blocks surrounding the shoreline of one artificial island had separated and begun drifting away.

In a fresh bid to allay the safety fears, officials at the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Authority, in the southern city of Zhuhai, insisted yesterday that the blocks had been placed that way on purpose.

“We have our ways to do it, and you [Hong Kong] may have your ways to do it,” said Yu Lie, the authority’s deputy director. “You seem to presume that part of the structure had sunk … but it has been designed as such. We do not think there is any problem with that. There are rules and standards for us to follow.”

The project has been under construction for nine years, facing several setbacks and delays as a result of of lawsuits and overspending. The bridge, which was originally expected to open in 2016, is now slated to become operational later this year.

“Supporters of the project say that by connecting the three cities of Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai to China’s Pearl River Delta region, the area will emerge as a major economic hub,” says The Guardian. “Critics say the bridge is just another way for China to tighten its hold over Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous special administrative region that has chafed under Beijing’s authority.”

Hong Kong has committed to contributing 43% of the bridge’s construction costs, equivalent to about HK$10.7bn (£970m), according to the South China Morning Post. Local officials are expected to spend a further HK$110bn on constructing the city’s connection to the main bridge.

The Chinese Highways Department said it will continue monitoring the main bridge works to ensure that “its quality meets the relevant requirements”.

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