Published On: Sun, Jul 7th, 2024
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The new £8bn river that’s set to rival the Suez Canal covering 83 miles | World | News

China is no stranger to mega construction and infrastructure projects, as it continues to seek ways to boost economic activity and grow its GDP.

Think back to the Three Gorges Dam project – one of the country’s largest engineering undertakings ever.

Started in 1994, the dam was eventually completed in 2006, allowing the navigation of oceangoing freighters and generating hydroelectric power.

It was also intended to provide protection from floods, although the jury is still out on whether it actually does.

Now Beijing is pushing ahead with another mega engineering scheme , which could put the Three Gorges Dam into the shade.

Pinglu Canal will stretch over 134 kilometres from the Xijin Reservoir, near Guangxi’s capital city of Nanning, to the port of Qinzhou in the south.

Costing 72.7 billion yuan (£7.9bn), it will complement existing highways and railways to move goods.

It will involve a huge amount of earth removal, three times more than during the construction of the Three Gorges Dam.

Officials say an estimated 340 million cubic meters of dirt and rocks will be cleared away to make way for China’s version of the Suez Canal.

The canal was first conceived back in 2019 should be completed by 2026, if all goes to plan.

Experts say it highlights Beijing’s shifting focus towards enhancing maritime connectivity for its Belt and Road Initiative, as opposed to land routes.

The new waterway is expected to shorten the shipping distance from inland river systems to the sea by 560 km, versus going through Guangzhou.

It’s hoped it will stimulate economic growth in Guangxi and other parts of relatively less-developed western China.

Wu Peng, an expert in the planning and design of the Pinglu Canal project, said: “The Pinglu Canal will be a pioneering feat in the history of canal construction in China, as it is the largest canal of its kind.

“Inland ships can sail directly to seaport. Upon completion, it will become a very busy canal noted for a large volume of freights, large-tonnage ships and a large number of vessels.”

Significantly, the canal is also aimed at boosting growing trade with the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, all of which are grouped with China under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade framework.

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