Macau Opinion | No link

Last week, China’s President Xi Jinping officially launched in Zhuhai the super bridge linking Macau to Hong Kong and Mainland China.

The event had been preceded by a few days of speculation, with some confusion between media and official channels providing news about the opening date. Up until a few days of the launching, everything seemed to be conjecture. And with other dates having been previously suggested as the ‘opening’ ones, there was never much to rely on at that point.

Very strange way of doing things. Initially, one would expect that the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB) be announced some time ahead, leaving time for the State and local governments to proceed with due promotion-cum-propaganda to advertise the ‘engineering marvel’ China has managed to develop – with the help and technology it has also contracted from abroad.

On the contrary, the confirmation in Macau that the bridge was about to open was made through a press conference which was called at the very last minute on Friday, October 19 just a few days before the official opening day on October 23, a Tuesday. It was a surreptitious move, as if not only the opening but also the bridge proper should be kept a secret. And yet, the first news that the HZMB was going to open was not even announced by official channels, but broken by Hong Kong media.

After all the controversy that has surrounded the pharaonic construction, including overdue budget, counterfeit reports, and fatal accidents, the central authorities have not decided to keep it low profile – which was unlikely to happen given the scope and the complexity of the bridge – but aimed to keep the opening news under their control while being all the same an international event.

Media everywhere in the world, from Europe to North and South America, have announced the news. International agencies were invited to cover the event which saw Mr. Xi walk side-by-side with Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, followed by Macau’s CE, Fernando Chui Sai On.

But Macau media in Portuguese and in English language were not invited for the opening. Very strange way to approach an event which was being widely covered worldwide.

To the world, it does not make a difference that the Portuguese newspapers of Macau were not there at the unveiling moment of the HZMB. To Macau, it makes for one more of those depressing episodes in which rulers set the music and you have to dance accordingly.