Xi Jinping to open Macau bridge: report

Newly-confirmed president for life Xi Jinping will officiate at the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge later this year, analysts believe.

The bridge, under construction since 2009, is due to open as early as May.

It is the linchpin of the Greater Bay Area (GBA) plan, the scheme to integrate the Guangdong and Hong Kong economies and which now has the attention of national leaders.

A number of Greater Bay-related property stocks jumped following the annual National People’s Congress meeting last week, Apple Daily reports.

Gambling stocks are also up across the board on the belief that, as part of its GBA thinking, Beijing will ease Macau gambling rules.

Then-president Hu Jintao opened the Shenzhen Bay Bridge in 2007, so tradition leans toward Xi playing the same role.

But speculation is also driven by the visit Xi made to the Guangdong delegation at the NPC last week, during which he urged them to carry out the GBA plan.

It may not sound much to outsiders, but Beijing-watchers give weight to the provincial teams that leaders visit during the NPC.

They note that Xi met with the Guangdong group four years ago, and this year’s visit was the first time he had called for a second  time on a provincial delegation since he became leader in 2012 – a sign of his focus on the GBA concept, so the theory goes.

The other factor is that, unlike Hong Kong, where reporting on the bridge has focused on the cost over-runs and scandals, mainland media has hailed it as one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World.”

In recent months travel companies have been selling out tours of mainland visitors to the bridge, who have paid as much as 600 yuan for an overnight tour of the Pearl River Mouth. Hong Kong residents, however, have shown absolutely no interest.

In the eyes of most of China, the new bridge is already a success, regardless of its hefty cost and unexplained economic benefit.

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