It’s the first day of the new HK to Shenzhen high speed train service. At 7am the first hundreds of passengers departed the former British colony for mainland China at speeds up to 200 kph.
The project, costing US$11 billion, is seen by some as a new, convenient and speedy track into mainland China and beyond. Others see it as another erosion of the former colony’s independence and amalgamation into full Chinese rule.
Still, no one is denying the efficiency of the link between Hong Kong’s business hub and the region’s manufacturing hub, Shenzhen. 20 minutes, and you’re there.
The project is part of a broader effort by the Chinese government to to integrate Hong Kong into the world’s largest urban hub – the Pearl River Delta, which the Chinese call the Greater Bay Area. The area has a population of 68 million people and has a combined GDP of $US1.5 trillion.
Many Hong Kongers were worried that their social media services wouldn’t work in Shenzhen but reported that, for now, they were still in communication with Hong Kong and had somehow escaped the Great Firewall of China which bans western social media services.
Once at the Shenzhen station the traveller have direct access to China’s massive 25,000 kilometre national high-speed rail network. Authorities on both sides of the border are hailing the initiative as a breakthrough that will bring economic benefits, including increased tourism.
The world’s longest bridge in the world, the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge opening next month, is 39 kilometres long and will link another of the Delta’s manufacturing hubs and tourist-magnet Macau, directly with Hong Kong. China took back control of the former British colony in 1997 and have promised a degree of independence until at least 2047 although the past decade has seen a slow erosion of control by the Hong Kong governments.