The longest tunnel-bridge, the most challenging sea-crossing project in the world today is none other than the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge which was officially opened for traffic in 2018. In engineering terms, it is the transportation equivalent of summiting Mt Everest (Qomolangma in Chinese). It will have a ripple effect on construction activity in the region. This jaw-dropping super-project has set numerous world records: the longest steel-structured bridge, the longest sub-sea tube-tunnel and the longest link roads with artificial islands, the biggest segments of tunnel, and the most precise “threading of the needle under the sea”. It is a monumental project that takes the world’s breath away. Behind the statistics stood its chief architect, Lin Ming, and his team.

Lin Ming was born in 1957 in Xinghua, Jiangxu Province. He had humble beginnings, having spent three years as a rural worker, and four years as a labourer. In 1978, by dint of sheer effort, he was admitted into the Nanjing Shipping School (later absorbed into Southeast University). There, he studied harbour maritime engineering. For the past 40 years, he has dug deep and has undertaken highway construction, bridge-building and other maritime projects, of which the more notable are the Runyang Yangtze River Bridge, the Third Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge and of course, the now famous breathtaking Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. His work has thus taken him across the length and breadth of China.

Lin Ming’s spirit has translated into multiple technical progress awards at both the state and provincial levels, chalking up 152 patents, 105 of which are classified as inventions. He is a much-garlanded role model in public service, successively named “National Model Worker”, “Transportation Industry’s Top Ten Impressive Person”, even the “Most Beautiful Worker”. However, constructing the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is doubtless the crowning glory of his life.

This mega-bridge is China’s first open sea tunnel-bridge project of gigantic proportions. Few nations in the world possess the technical capability of building a structure of this scale. During the pre-construction phase of this project, foreign experts dismissively predicted that it is beyond China’s capability. Faced with the prohibitive fee, Lin Ming and his team decided to fall back on themselves, beginning at zero, and embarked on their own self-directed research. As China’s President Xi Jinping declared at the general meeting of Members of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, “The critical core technologies cannot be sought, bought or begged for.” Thus began a superhuman struggle and search for solutions. In the process, the team under Lin Ming’s leadership overcame enormous engineering difficulties arising from the installation of deep-water tube-tunnels. But that did not stop him from setting his team the highest and the toughest standards. He led the charge in innovated designs, which included deep-buried tunnels and the installation of segments of the tunnel. Out of the dozens of self-developed core technologies, Lin’s team produced over 500 patents.

Lin Ming has a stubborn habit that has stayed with him for many years: marathon running. Each morning at the crack of dawn, Lin begins his long-distance jog. On the day when the mega-bridge first turned on its lights, he ran the entire 29.81 kilometres of the main bridge. This was his way of celebrating the moment of his greatest triumph. He declared: “I have just one goal in life, and one attitude, and that is to keep running, giving my all to each and every thing I do.” To Lin, every person in the project is a “high-wire walker”, and every step of the procedure must be fail-safe.

At a press interview, Lin had this to say: “The value of a bridge is in load-carrying; the value of a human being is in carrying his commitment.” From a low-level labourer to a super-engineer, Lin has clung to his bedrock belief in being a fearless pioneer, in the relentless search for perfection, and in the ever-innovative spirit of a master craftsman. That makes him an ideal role model for the younger generation.

Mr Chairman, in recognition of Mr Lin Ming’s enormous contributions to China’s bridge-building, his never-say-die attitude and his innovative spirit, it is my privilege to present him to you for the award of an Honorary Fellowship.