Classic Case - The Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai Bridge Proposal

The Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai Bridge Proposal


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  • Product Description

    In the first years after its 1997 reunification with China, the economy of Hong Kong, a former British crown colony that had developed as a post-World War II economic powerhouse, was sputtering. Growth in gross domestic product had slowed and real estate values had dipped sharply. More broadly, the economic roles that Hong Kong played during periods of growth were threatened. Mainland cities increasingly demonstrated the capacity to play the same roles. Into this relatively bleak picture, stepped one of the city's famed "tycoons"--Sir Gordon Wu, chairman of the construction firm Hopewell Holdings International--with a project he asserted would reinvigorate and sustain the Hong Kong economy. Sir Gordon, as he was widely known, tirelessly promoted the idea of constructing a new bridge, linking the westernmost of Hong Kong's islands, and site of its ultra-modern international airport, with mainland China and the former Portuguese colony of Macau. The proposed $HK15 billion ($US2 billion), 19-mile Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai combination bridge and tunnel would, said Wu, bring long-lasting benefits by linking Hong Kong to the manufacturing centers of the Pearl River Delta, and west to Vietnam. Both Hong Kong and mainland China officials would have to decide whether Wu was right and how to support the project if approved, which many economic interests in Hong Kong and south China opposed.

    Learning Objective:
    This case explores the economic quandaries of major infrastructure projects. Should they be financed privately or publicly? Should they be subsidized? Are passenger and toll projections for this bridge plausible? More broadly, what role do infrastructure projects play in spurring and sustaining the economic development of cities? Is Wu right to compare his bridge with the Erie Canal? Under what circumstances, and in what types of cities, can major transport projects lead to significant economic growth? This case may also be relevant to those interested in mainland China politics, as the bridge played a role in Beijing's deliberations on proposed security laws in Hong Kong, and the "cross-straits" relationships between Beijing and Taiwan.

  • Other Details

    Publication Date: January 22, 2003
    HKS Case Number: 1700.0
    Case Author: Howard Husock
    Faculty Lead: Jose Gomez-Ibanez
    Pages (incl. exhibits): 20
    Setting: China
    Language: English
    Funding Source: Civil Service Training and Development Institute of Hong Kong for the Leadership Enhancement and Development Program
    _pages: 16-25
    _geography: Asia
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