The Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai Bridge Proposal

Howard Husock, Director of the Case Program at the John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA on The Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai Bridge Proposal.

Deciding on the case

We chose this case to provide discussion of the questions of: whether and why major transportation infrastructure projects can lead to economic development, and, under what circumstances, if any, governments should subsidize privately-owned transport projects. The case also allowed the Kennedy School to explore the political climate affecting private business in Hong Kong and China.


Although the Kennedy School has had a long-standing executive education contract with the government of Hong Kong, we approached Sir Gordon Wu, a leading Hong Kong 'tycoon' and developer of private transport projects in Asia, directly through his firm Hopewell Holdings. Hopewell shared with us the proposals for the bridge (case subject) linking Hong Kong with the mainland port of Zhuhai, improving highway access to Hong Kong's port facilities in areas throughout South China, even extending to Vietnam.


We obtained extensive analyses of the bridge proposal, produced by a think tank associated with the mainland China government - in Chinese. Fortunately, a number of graduate students from China at Harvard, including some who were familiar with the inner workings of government, made sophisticated translations of text and tables, some of which were included as exhibits in the case.


We realized we needed further data on existing means of crossing the Pearl River Delta, (eg ferries), and that we had misinterpreted (possibly through translation) projections of the likely number of bridge users. These were corrected, in part, through a clearance process, which included comments from relevant Hong Kong officials.

Teaching objectives

These focused on the role of transportation infrastructure in spurring economic development and the evolution of urban economies. The objectives were met and the case has been regularly used in an executive education program specifically focused on infrastructure finance, as well as in a graduate-level transport economics class. The issues of whether government should subsidize private firms, or how urban economies work, are of interest and relevance throughout the world. But this case could also be easily adapted by those interested in examining one firm's successful campaign, combining technical evaluations and good public relations to gain approval for its plans.

Any advice?

Don't shy away from approaching prominent persons or firms directly. They are often eager to tell their stories and share their experiences.

Case details

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About the author

Howard Husock is Director of the Case Program at the John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA.

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