October 23 could have been a huge day for President Xi Jinping as China opens the world’s longest cross-sea bridge.
But a grand opening ceremony for this engineering triumph with another planned lengthy speech by Xi was cut short by the “suicide” of CCP’s top official in Macau amid other mysteries.
President Xi was late half an hour for the opening ceremony, and until the last minute, the 700 guests waiting were still not sure if the president would come for the important venue.
While not everyone was excited about the event, reporters on the ground were quick to express their surprise and disappointment when President Xi finally made his appearance and said these twelve words and left in a hurry.
“I now announce the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is officially open.”
In an unexpected and breathtaking display of brevity, Xi declared the world’s longest sea crossing – a 55-kilometre bridge and underwater tunnel connecting Hong Kong, Macau, and the mainland Chinese port city of Zhuhai – as open with an abrupt two-second speech that, it is fair to say, was not what everyone was expecting, as Business Insider has reported.
Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, was among the top officials who escorted Xi to the venue.Lam said to South China Morning Post that Xi was concerned about Hong Kong’s readiness to get on board the Greater Bay Area initiative, adding Xi was “glad” to know that Hong Kong was building a third airport runway.
The bridge is part of China’s ambitious “Greater Bay Area Master Plan” to integrate Hong Kong, Macau, and the manufacturing powerhouse Guangdong province’s nine biggest cities to create a combined US$1.5 trillion tech and science hub intended to rival even Silicon Valley.
But critics say this US$20 billion bridge is another “blood and sweat project”, as 10 workers died and more than 600 were injured in the construction of the typhoon-proof expressway, in addition to ecological impacts to marine animals.
Apparently with other headaches more serious than criticism, the president did not have the time or energy to meet in detail with the local heads of Zhuhai and Macau.
Before this ceremony, Xi toured a hi-tech industrial estate in Zhuhai, visiting Gree Electric Appliances, a leading home appliances maker, where he urged China to become more “self-reliant” , to counter a trade war with the US.
Reports say Xi Jinping made his way onto the longest bridge to his next stop- Shenzhen, right after the ceremony.
According to state media, on Wednesday, the president was in the tech hub of Shenzhen, where he visited an exhibition commemorating Guangdong’s pioneering part in the reforms, in which his late father Xi Zhongxun played an early steering role.
During his stop at Qianhai special economic zone on the southern edge of Shenzhen, Xi met with entrepreneurs, at an outdoor venue close to the Guiwan River, where a landmark stone on which the two Chinese characters for “Qianhai” selected from former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s handwritings were engraved.
Security was tight from dawn to dusk in Zhuhai and Shenzhen, with a heavy presence of uniformed police and plain-clothes personnel at both venues.
Sources said the Macau head who died of suicide were involved in a coup attempt with generals of the military against President Xi. Macau police on Monday said they had found nothing suspicious surrounding the death of China’s top official in the casino hub, after Zheng Xiaosong fell from a building on Saturday night.
No message from Zheng was found during investigations, according to Macau police spokesman Ho Chan-nam.
“After our investigation department followed up on the case, it was confirmed it was not suspicious, nor was there any criminality,” Ho said, adding that an autopsy would be carried out to verify the cause of death.
On the day of the ceremony, a speech by Deng Pufang at the seventh National Conference of China’s Disabled Person’s Association was made public, reportedly with a purpose to denounce Xi’s authoritarian ambitions by hailing Deng Xiaoping’s policy of reforms and opening up.
Deng Pufang has his pride to recall his father’s role as the “architect” of China’s reforms and open-door policy. The return of Hong Kong and Macau was based on political principle formulated by Deng himself called “one country, two systems”, and “socialism with Chinese characteristics”.
His remarks, “We must seek truth from facts, and keep a clear mind of our own abilities. We shall not be provocative with arrogance or belittle ourselves; we shall plan our work according to factual conditions of the country at the primary stage of socialism,” are seen as defiance against President Xi’s diversion from his father’s route.
Shenzhen, the third city President Xi visited during his first trip to Guangdong since 2012, has been closely watched for its status as the starting point for Deng’s economic reform and opening up 40 years ago, an anniversary that will soon be marked.
After Shenzhen, Xi headed north to Guangzhou and Guangdong province’s impoverished backwaters. State television reported that Xi had visited the campus of Jinan University and an old district of Guangzhou, the provincial capital, and inquired about cultural heritage protection works.
According to People’s Daily, Xi made a stop at Lianjiangkou township in Yingde city, where he said that “no one would be left behind” in China’s drive to eradicate extreme poverty.
By Cloudy Seagail