I couldn’t be more ambivalent about the impact the opening of “the longest sea bridge” in the world had on me.
It was a non-event, a killed-news. So many times the opening date was trumpeted and even printed in the media. We were all fooled, and regularly.
Second, I wasn’t invited to the inauguration. I mean, we the Macau media, which was weird since the city is an integral part of the bridge.
So, I choose a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) format for my take on the HKZ… you know already the name is stupid. For me, it is the Y-Bridge: Why bridge?
Who was Mr Zheng Xiaosong?
Mr Zheng was a top diplomat, heading the Macao Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government who fell to his death on Saturday, October 20, a few days before the inauguration in Zhuhai of the mega bridge. He was replaced by his deputy at the occasion, presided over by none other than Xi Jinping.
Was Zheng’s tragic death mourned at the inauguration?
No. Not a single word about the incident. But Xi himself was very economical with his speech and there was not much fanfare.
At the time, none of us, public or journalists, knew much about the fateful fall of Zheng, except for the laconic note on Sunday 21 issued by the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO), based in Beijing, just saying he was “suffering from depression.”
The news sent shockwaves throughout the city with its fair amount of rumors.
When was Zheng’s death lamented by the Central authorities?
A week after, on Sunday, in a statement from the Macao Liaison Office.
What did they say?
“Comrade Zheng Xiaosong has worked in various fields, such as diplomacy and finance, and in such places as Fujian Province, Hong Kong and Macau. He had a strong sense of professionalism and responsibility, he was devoted to his duties, dared to take responsibility, adhered to principles, he was clean and honest, and had done a lot of productive work in different positions.”
What was the responsibility of Zheng over (this side of) the bridge?
“In office since September 2017, he earnestly implemented the One Country, Two Systems policy and the Macau Basic Law, while actively planning the long-term development of Macau,” the statement reads.
Borrowing the words from Leanda Lee in this very column, Zhen Xiaosong was “a man raised to a role of responsibility,” who died on the opening of “a structure symbolic of the entire rational for his position.”
What is the Liaison Office?
Officially, it liaises between the State Council and the Macau government on areas of common jurisdiction. Informally, it is seen as a “shadow government” as its departmentally huge structure mimics that of the Macau government, and they influence the process of decision-making.
It is not, though, a Y-office, in the likes of the longest sea crossing, no. It is more a W-office: imagine the exchange of information or instructions flowing in “w” stroke, starting with the first point from the left. Beijing to Macau; Macau to Beijing; Beijing to Macau; Macau to Beijing.
Does it end there?
No. The “w” keeps repeating itself endlessly. B-M;M-B;B-M;M-B. And so on.
Is the bridge going to be a game changer?
It can be a game changer for the MICE industry if the distance from HK Airport to Cotai is under 50 minutes – closer to Cotai than to Central – which is possible, but it’s not happening. There are tales of three-hour long trips door-to-door. And then, there is the luggage limitation issue. So far, to go to HK Airport the ferry is still the fastest and smoother option.
Was it always a Y-Bridge?
Not really. A former Zhuhai mayor in the late 1980s proposed a Zhuhai-Hong Kong link at Qi’ao and Tuen Mun, across the Lingdingyang, Pearl River estuary. The plan was dropped, the rest is history.