The scene of Hong Kong and mainland officials standing side by side officiating at the opening of a long-awaited cross-border checkpoint is perhaps not particularly exciting for news readers. But it is more than just a positive change of pace from the Covid-19 epidemic and intensifying political disputes in the city and beyond. Coming on the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen special economic zone, the new crossing marks another milestone in China’s Greater Bay Area development. The Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point connects with Liantang Port in Shenzhen to provide the seventh land crossing with the mainland. It is not just another gateway to the neighbouring city, but also the eastern part of Guangdong province. Designed with a daily capacity of 17,850 vehicle and 30,000 passenger trips, it is the third new cross-border transport link in recent years, following the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link. As with other major infrastructure projects, the HK$33.7 billion facility was also fraught with problems, leading to an 18-month delay. Against the backdrop of the Covid-19 outbreak and high cross-border political tension, it is probably not a good time for inauguration ceremonies. While the contagion has forced the authorities to close most checkpoints, limited travel and freight operations between the two places continue. The new facility formally opened to goods vehicles yesterday afternoon and will be open to passenger use when the epidemic situation improves. Speaking at the ceremony, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the link would further enhance the “one-hour living circle”. Hong Kong leader hails opening of new border link between city, Shenzhen The commissioning of the high-speed rail and the cross-delta bridge has made it possible to travel between Hong Kong and cities in southwest Guangdong within an hour, but the east of the province had remained less accessible until now, when the concept of “west in, west out, east in, east out” is finally an everyday reality. The Greater Bay Area development strategy – a state initiative to group Hong Kong, Macau and nine other southern mainland cities into an economic powerhouse – was not even on the drawing board when Lam oversaw the checkpoint project as the development secretary 12 years ago. But its strategic location fits well with the concept and fills the void in the eastern part of the bay area. The advantages go beyond cross-border transport convenience. The free flow of passengers and goods has always been paramount to closer economic and cultural integration in the bay area. The city and the region stand to benefit from the synergy when the potential of the new crossing is maximised.