Travel time will be cut off across the delta from several hours to just 30 minutes with the opening of the world's longest sea-crossing bridge. The mega bridge will open to traffic on Wednesday. He did not address the audience.
It's a key element of China's plan for a Greater Bay Area covering 56,500 sq.km of southern China, and encompassing 11 cities, including Hong Kong and Macau, that are home to a combined 68 million people.
He said the bridge demonstrates China's engineering capabilities. The launch ceremony was hastily announced last week by mainland authorities with Hong Kong lawmakers and transport companies complaining they had been left in the dark.
The bridge would help Hong Kong and Macau be integrated to mainland China, he added.
The private vehicle owners in Hong Kong will be allowed to cross the bridge only with special permit.
Image via You Tube CGTN
The $20 billion (2.3 trillion yen) bridge took nearly a decade to build while incurring major delays and cost overruns.
The critics also dubbed the bridge as a "blood and sweat project" noting that 10 workers have died and more than 600 were injured during its construction, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.
But residents in Zhuhai welcomed it.
China already lays claim to the record for the world's longest bridge of any kind - the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge, a viaduct which is part of a high-speed rail line.
The bridge forms a physical link between the mainland and Hong Kong, an Asian financial hub that was handed over from British to Chinese control in 1997 with the assurance it would maintain its own legal and economic system for 50 years.
Political analyst Willy Lam said the launch by Xi showed his support for Hong Kong's economic and political integration into the region, adding that the Pearl River Delta had always been the "new growth pole of China".