A bridge so far: China’s gamble on Macau link

The world’s longest sea bridge will link Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China. (AFP)
Updated 30 March 2018
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A bridge so far: China’s gamble on Macau link

HONG KONG: Touted as an engineering wonder, the world’s longest sea bridge, which connects Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China, includes a snaking road crossing and an underwater tunnel and reportedly uses enough steel to build 60 Eiffel Towers.

Nine years after construction began on the 55-kilometer (34-mile) crossing, a preview organized by the Chinese government this week offered a first peek into the megaproject.

The bridge will link Hong Kong to the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai and the gambling enclave of Macau, cutting across the waters of the Pearl River Estuary.
Although the opening date has not been confirmed, officials expect the bridge to be in use for 120 years and say it will boost business by cutting travel time by 60 percent.
The 420,000 tons of steel used for the project represent 60 times the amount used in the Eiffel Tower, China’s official Xinhua news agency said.

Gao Xinglin, the bridge’s project planning manager, said the construction of the 6.7-kilometer underwater tunnel gave him sleepless nights.

“There were many nights where I couldn’t fall asleep, because there were too many difficulties during the construction,” Gao told reporters Wednesday.

“Linking the 80,000-ton pipes under the sea with watertight technology was the most challenging,” he added.

The total price tag for the project, which includes artificial islands, linked roads and new border-crossing facilities, is unclear but some estimates run to over 100 billion yuan ($15.1 billion), leading critics to slam it as a costly white elephant.

Opponents in Hong Kong say the project is part of Beijing’s drive to tighten its grip on the semi-autonomous city.

Dogged by delays, budget overruns, accusations of corruption and the deaths of construction workers, the bridge failed to open by the end of 2017 as hoped.

There have also been safety concerns after 19 lab workers were charged over faking concrete test reports, with one man jailed last December.


Beijing to clamp down on property market irregularities as rents soar

Updated 17 August 2018
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Beijing to clamp down on property market irregularities as rents soar

BEIJING: Beijing’s housing authority said on Friday it will clamp down on market irregularities that have fueled a spike in rental prices, telling major apartment rental service providers, including Ziroom, to correct their behavior.
In a statement on its website, the Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-rural Development said it had held talks with major rental companies on Friday after media reports of surging rents.
Since last year, authorities have been looking favorably on real estate companies that have robust plans to develop their rental businesses as this fit with President Xi Jinping’s pledge to reduce the speculative nature of the property market and help provide affordable housing for those who can not afford to buy.
Policymakers have appealed to banks and insurers to facilitate funding and help accelerate the development of rental markets.
Rental companies are capitalizing on Beijing’s campaign to develop a viable urban rental market. In January, Ziroom — a variation on Airbnb — landed a fresh investment of about $620 million led by private equity firm Warburg Pincus.
The housing authority told the rental companies they should not grab rental listings with above market price offers using funds they procured from banks and other financial channels, which has fueled a “vicious competition.”
It also warned they should not tempt landlords to terminate leasing contracts early with promises of higher prices.
The bureau said it had launched a joint inspection with the Beijing banking regulator and the finance and tax bureaus on rental companies to crack down on such behavior that had rattled the market.