The 2.4-km-long Peljesac Bridge, a key infrastructure project in Croatia, connects the Croatian mainland with the Peljesac Peninsula of its southernmost Dubrovnik-Neretva County, bypassing a short strip of land belonging to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and giving Croatia better access to the area.
Wu recalled that when she first came to the bridge project three years ago, the pier of the bridge had just emerged from the sea, like a newborn child. Now the bridge has been completed, like a grown-up man who stands tall. The bridge blends into the beautiful landscape of the Adriatic Gulf, resembling a distant silver-white dragon stretched across the sea.
"In the past three years, I have witnessed the bridge's growth day by day. Whenever I see many tourists who come to take pictures on the bridge, I feel extremely proud," Wu said.
For many evenings after work, Sun Ruikang, an employee of the commercial contract department of the bridge project, would sit on the balcony, looking at the bridge over the bay.
"More than four years have passed in such a flash. I am like the bridge, changing every day, growing every day," he said.
Back in the summer of 2018, Zhang Yong, a staff member of the commercial contract department of the bridge project, came to the construction site after a 16-hour journey and joined the team of the bridge builders. He said that the Peljesac Bridge carries the hopes and dreams of generations of Croatians.
During the past four years, Zhang witnessed how teams of builders, regardless of good or bad weather, remained dedicated to their tasks.
For Wu Zhongjian, who works for the safety and quality department of the bridge project, July 28, 2021 was the most memorable day during the construction of the bridge. On that day, the final segments of the bridge were joined, bringing two parts of the Croatian coastline together for the first time.
Wu recalled that many Croatian officials, media personnel and local residents came to witness how the last bridge segments were joined and their hearts were filled with joy. "I also felt overjoyed and proud for being a participant in the construction," Wu said.
Not only Chinese builders, but also foreign employees and bridge project partners burst with emotions.
Croatian-born Ana Vulic and her husband Talman Damtare, a native of Togo in Africa, are both employees of the bridge project. Ana said that thanks to China, she and her husband met and fell in love. The Peljesac Bridge enabled them to work together and witnessed the hard work and dedication of the Chinese builders.
Selma Kundson, a Croatian who has been working on the bridge project for nearly four years, said she was very excited about the opening of the bridge, as it was the common wish of her deceased grandfather and father to have the north and south of the country connected.
"I imagine that after many years, I will proudly tell my children and grandchildren the story of my participation in the Peljesac Bridge project as a builder," she said.
Lu Shengwei, the representative of the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) Croatia Branch, said that cooperation, a quest for mutual benefits, and a win-win approach have always been the business philosophy of the bridge project.
The consortium has signed more than 1,200 purchase contracts and orders with Croatian companies with a cumulative value of over 166 million Croatian kunas (23.5 million U.S. dollars) along with 91 business subcontracts whose value has exceeded 220 million kunas. This fully complies with the principle of extensive consultation and cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.