Months of jockeying and argument over the bridge project may be laid to rest The National Development and Reform Commission's endorsement of the need for a bridge linking Hong Kong and the west side of the Pearl River Delta could spell the end of the debate and jockeying over the project. There has been intense rivalry between regional cities and powerful local firms. Leo Leung Kwok-kee, executive director of Hopewell Engineering and Construction, said the green light given by the commission could help iron out the differences among Hong Kong, Macau and various cities in the delta. 'It will put an end to the debate on whether to build such a bridge. I expect the commission's recommendation will speed up the policymaking process for the project,'' said Mr Leung, who has helped Hopewell Holdings chairman Sir Gordon Wu Ying-sheung put forward a proposal. Tuan Chyau, of the department of decision sciences and managerial economics at the Chinese University, said the bridge would give a boost to Hong Kong's logistics and tourism industry. 'It will help lure foreign enterprises to set up their regional headquarters in Hong Kong as a springboard to invest on the west side of the delta,'' he said. Canning Fok Kin-ning, managing director of Hutchison Whampoa, fired the first salvo in the bridge controversy last August by warning that government subsidies for the proposal would put Hong Kong's free enterprise system at risk. But Sir Gordon, who put forward a $15 billion proposal last year, said he would spearhead a consortium to support the project. Some analysts say Hutchison fears that if the bridge is built, containers may have to go to terminals near the new link rather than existing port facilities at Kwai Chung and Tsing Yi, where the company has heavy investment. In an article published in the South China Morning Post last year, Mr Fok said he was not opposed to the bridge, but did not feel it would be a more efficient way of moving cargo across the delta than the current river barge system. Ho Ming-sze, an adviser to the Fok Ying Tung Foundation and a close aide to tycoon Henry Fok Ying-tung, said in February that the project would harm the environment by worsening the silting problem in the Pearl River estuary, which could further endanger its rare pink dolphins. He said that the proposed bridge would not be cost-effective, given the low level of development on the western side of the delta. Henry Fok has invested an estimated $2.5 billion in business and recreational facilities, including piers and port facilities, in Nansha, Panyu. He plans to commit a further $1.3 billion. Meanwhile, Sir Gordon, also chairman of the Hong Kong Port Development Board, has long argued for the need to move forward with port infrastructure in Hong Kong that can handle future generations of big ships. Critics say the answer lies in the fact that the proposed location of that port is exactly where his company wants to land this bridge. But Hopewell's executives argue that the proposal is for Hong Kong's long-term interests.