The bridge between Macau and Hong Kong is slated for completion in 2017.
Until now it's taken a ferry or helicopter to traverse the south China sea between the Islands so the convenience factor is evident. The pearl river delta is a booming area of investment and growth - at least for Macau and Hong Kong. On mainland China the situation is less appealing and one aspect of the bridge which gets downplayed is that it connects to Zhuhai - directly across the river from Macau.
Already, Zhuhai's massive constructions are visible from Macau, the buildings lit with advertisements directly facing the so-called Las Vegas of the East.
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The plan is to allow travel without migration procedure between the Cantonese areas which comes with its own set of problems.
In the present moment, if someone commits a crime in Macau they can board a helicopter or ferry to Hong Kong where they cannot be prosecuted. In a city rife with gambling and prostitution, a get-out-of-jail-free card is only a short boat ride away.
Just recently a senior prosecutor in Macau was arrested for allegedly funneling investment money for property into major construction and then turning the money around to cheaper construction firms with inferior material and skimming the profit. He also allegedly granted contracts to people known to him for kickbacks. Guess where he was arrested. On his way to Hong Kong of course.
Hong Kong administration is currently looking in to changing laws so that they can prosecute fugitives, but for the moment it's a virtual asylum.
Macau's economy has shriveled since China's crackdown on corruption deterred high rollers from the Mainland to spend big in Macau. The resolution plan is immense constructions of "integrated resorts". The Sherton Grand, where this is being written, can hold roughly 4000 people alone complete with shopping malls, restaurants and, of course, casinos - with a quick walk down the corridor to the St. Regis where you can be welcomed with a sabered bottle of champagne.
Across the road, the Venetian presents a carbon copy of Venice with a comparable number of rooms complete with gondoliers, canals, and of course, casinos.
Galaxy, the most ambitious project is so sublime it beggars belief. The entire area, located on the Coloane island, is designated to these monolithic constructions. The idea is to get mass market gamblers. As the gambling drops, so does the economy. The so-called Cotai strip needs to remain the Vegas of the East.
And now, a bridge. If Macau, mainland China, and Hong Kong can come to an agreement of reciprocal flux, these enormous resorts will be filled to capacity and money will hemorrhage into the casinos.
Inversely, residents of Macau and Hong Kong will very likely be offered the right to purchase property with restriction in the much cheaper Guangzhou (Canton) where the slowing economy is forcing the administration's hand in opening to the Special Administration Regions.
It's possible these rights will be withheld from residents of the more feisty Hong Kong and granted only to the well-behaved Macau. One resident said people in Hong Kong want Western individuality and the ability to make a statement, whereas in Macau "we are happy with what we have."
It will be fascinating to watch how this affects the Pearl Delta. While the economic effect is immediately evident, the politic effect is less predictable. If residents of the SARs move to the cheaper Guangzhou, they might expect the freedoms they are accustomed to, while the residents of Guangzhou might rather enjoy the freedom they've never had.