The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge connects Hong Kong to Mainland China – but where does the bridge cross from the waters of Hong Kong into China’s Guangdong Province, and what marks it?
So where is the border?
From a legal perspective people cross the border at the “Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities“, located on a 150 hectare artificial island reclaimed from the open waters off the northeast of the Hong Kong International Airport.
Which means the 12 kilometre long road between the border crossing and the geographic border itself is a “sterile” area – just like an airport terminal.
But the geographic border is hard to spot once the bridge itself – you need to look out for the ‘Guangdong Boundary’ sign just before entering the underwater tunnel.
Playing spot the difference
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is divided into two sections:
- HZMB Main Bridge running 29.6 km through Mainland Chinese waters, with three distinctive spans crossing shipping channels, and a 6.7 km immersed tube tunnel landing at two artificial islands, and
- Hong Kong Link Road running 12 kilometres along viaducts, tunnels, and at-grade roads between the HZMB Main Bridge at the HKSAR boundary and the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facility.
The Hong Kong SAR border is marked on this Highways Department diagram of the bridge.
The two sections of the bridge were constructed under separate contracts – one in Hong Kong, the other in China. This meant that the eastern side of the HZMB Main Bridge immersed tube tunnel included a short section of viaduct as far as the border.
The Hong Kong Link Road reached this short stub on 27 January 2017 and a ceremony was held on the Hong Kong side of the border, in front of an interesting feature – a big steel fence preventing access to the Mainland China side!
This border fence remained in place while the finishing touches were applied to the bridge.
Highways Department photo, June 2018
On 19 October 2018 the Hong Kong media were taken on a tour of the bridge as far as the border fence.
Justin Chin/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The fence highlights the differences of road design between the two sides.
- bridge parapets change style,
- Chinese-style expressway destination signs to one side,
- ‘Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge Hong Kong Link Road’ street sign,
- ‘0.0 km W’ distance marker sign, and
- ‘Hong Kong’ destinations painted on each lane.
Down at water level the border is also visible – the left pier is in Mainland China waters and the pier to the right is in Hong Kong.
The different styles of bridge parapet and pier design are visible from this angle, as well as a curious design feature – the bridge span from the Chinese side crosses over the border, where there is an expansion gap atop ‘Pier 0’ of the Hong Kong Link Road.
Due to the close proximity of the two countries, the Hong Kong Police Force keep a patrol boat in the area.
Did you notice the fisherman sitting atop the pier on the Hong Kong site?
Why didn’t this bridge also include a rail link? (especially with the extension of the high speed network) Such a rail link would have been a good addition to the MTR and Chinese rail network.
I suspect gradients would be the liming factor – heading down into the immersed tube tunnels then back out again would be too steep for trains.
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