China's President Xi Jinping threw the world's extended sea bridge joining Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China on Tuesday at a time when Beijing is constriction its hold on its semi-independent lands.
Xi proclaimed the bridge officially open at a formality also attended by Hong Kong's and Macau's city leaders at a new harbor incurable in the southern mainland city of Zhuhai.
"I declare the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge officially open," Xi said as digital fireworks detonated on a screen behind him in an indoor ceremony, before leaving the stage directly. He did not address the spectators.
Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam had earlier spoken to thank Xi for attending in person, praising the bridge's "magnificence".
The 55-kilometer (34-mile) crossing, which comprises a snaking road bridge and underwater tunnel, links Hong Kong's Lantau island to Zhuhai and the betting reserve of Macau, across the waters of the Pearl River Estuary.
It is the second major set-up project binding Hong Kong to mainland China to launch in a matter of weeks, after the opening of a high-speed rail link last month and is part of a Beijing-obsessed policy to create an extensive "Greater Bay Area" economic hub.
Critics say the new multi-billion-dollar sea-bridge is one more way to assimilate Hong Kong into China as doubts produce that the city's valued freedoms are being wind-swept.
The extra-large bridge will open to traffic on Wednesday.
Building began in 2009 and has been persistent by stays, budget invades, corruption trials and the deaths of construction workers.
The presentation ceremony was hurriedly proclaimed last week by mainland establishments with Hong Kong politicians and transport companies complaining they had been left in the dark.
Groups of the project promote it as an engineering genius that will also improve business and cut travel time, while others see it as a politically ambitious and costly white elephant.
The main bridge section is considered the mainland area and Hong Kong cars and drivers traveling over it "must comply with the laws and regulations of the mainland", according to the city's transport department.
There was no ceremony on the Hong Kong side Tuesday, but there was a discriminating police presence in seaside areas near the bridge, with officers carrying out individuality checks on journalists and members of the public.
Hong Kong residents will only be decided a license to cross into Zhuhai by car if they meet highly selective standards, including property certain mainland government positions or making major aids to charities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.
Most people will need to travel the bridge on coaches and buses.
Online commenters in Hong Kong complained about the bridge's limited access gaining of the launch.
"Such a huge investment using the Hong Kong taxpayer's money... yet basically it is not open to us at all," said one comment on the South China Morning Post website.
But residents in Zhuhai welcomed the bridge.
"I think this bridge will bring great convenience to the whole area of Zhuhai, Hong Kong, and Macao, and promote the economic development of the whole area of the Pearl River Delta," resident Dang Zheiliang told AFP.
Resident Can Bingtuan salaried a visit to the bridge on his day off.
"Today I'm off duty, so I took my child to see the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. Now it's almost open to traffic. It's magnificent," he told AFP.
Some Hong Kong media described that the bodily condition of bus drivers would be checked by cameras, including an attentive sent if a driver yawns more than three times in 20 seconds.
China already places right to the record for the world's longest bridge of any kind -- the Denying-Kunshan Grand Bridge, an overpass which is part of a high-speed rail line.
The opening of the high-speed rail connection last month also flashed censure as it saw Chinese security stationed on Hong Kong earth for the first time at the city's station.
Critics suspect the Hong Kong government of giving away territory to an increasingly self-confident Beijing.