New Projects to Balance China's Resources
[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 01/10/01; October 1, 2001.]
by Zhao Qinghua
Dhaka, Bangladesh, October 1, 2001 (The Independent) - Four gigantic projects to be built in the next five years in China are expected to balance the supply of the nation's water, energy, mineral and human resources, which are vital to a coordinated development of the national economy but unevenly distributed in the vast land.
China has 80 percent of its water resources located in the south, while 40 percent of the country's cultivated land is in its north, Some northern areas including the national capital of Beijing are among the world's most thirsty places, with their water resources merely accounting for one sixth of the country's average, which in turn is one quarter of the world average. The long time water shortage has hampered development in the north, forcing cities there to overuse irrigation water or underground water, resulting in ecological problems.
In the meantime, China's energy resources are also unevenly distributed. While the vast areas in the western regions deposit rich resources of natural gas, coal, petroleum and hydropower, the eastern regions are short of them and desperately need them for their fast developing economy. In electricity supply for instance, large amounts of hydroelectricity are wasted in the southwestern regions, while the northern and eastern regions have to build small thermal power plants to satisfy their demand at much higher cost.
On the other hand, inconvenient transportation in the west has restrained the access to areas like Tibet, which covers an area of 1.22 million square kilometers, or more than twice the size of France and has remained the only region in the country without rail transport.
The four projects are designed to solve these problems. They are the diversion of southern water to the north, a west east natural gas pipeline, transmission of electricity from west to east and a railway linking Tibet with the rest of the country.
The Draft Outline of the Tenth Five-year Plan for National Economic and Social Development (2001 2005) published earlier this year proposes launching the project as early as possible, and the construction of Qinghai Tibet Railway was already inaugurated on July 1.
According to the 10th Five-year Plan, water will be diverted from the south via three channels in the eastern, central and western regions, respectively.
The western route draws water from Tongtianhe, Yalongjiang and Daduhe, tributaries of the Yangtze River in southwest China, to the upper reaches of the Yellow River to solve water shortage in the northwestern regions. The central route is to fetch water from the Danjiangkou Reservoir on the border between Hubei and Henan provinces to Beijing and Tianjin. The eastern route draws water at Yangzhou on the lower reaches of the Yangtze, flowing through a section of the ancient Grand Canal and lakes northward to reach Hebei and Tianjin.
Upon completion, the project will link up the Yangtze, Huaihe, the Yellow River and Haihe valleys, forming a network of four horizontal and three vertical waterways that allows a rational allocation of the country's water resources nationwide. The project is designed to divert 38 48 billion cubic meters of river water a year, which equal the annual flow of the Yellow River, the second longest in China. It is expected to quench the thirst in the north and break the bottleneck hampering economic and social development in China so as to promote a sustainable social and economic development and benefit future generations, according to the Ministry of Water Resources.
With the relocation of water resources, not only some 20 large and medium-sized cities like Beijing, Tianjin and Shijiazhuang will be relieved of the constraints of water shortage, new economic growth points will rise up along the new waterways, especially in the western regions in a short time.
Sending natural gas and electricity produced in the western regions to the eastern regions where they are needed is a landmark for the campaign to develop the less developed western regions.During the next five years, the country's Tenth Five-year Plan period, electricity will be transmitted from the west via three routes. The northern route is to transmit thermal power from Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Shaanxi Province, which abound in coal, to the North China Power Grid.
In due time, 2.7 million kilowatts of power will be sent to the Beijing Tianjin Tanggu area. The central route is to send hydroelectricity from Sichuan and other central China provinces to the Central China Power Grid and East China Grid. The southern route is to send hydropower from Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi provinces in the southwest to the South China Power Grid. In five years time, Guangdong Province alone will get 10 million more kilowatts of electricity. Construction of Longtan Power Station, China's second largest hydraulic power station after the Three Gorges Project, was inaugurated on July 1, 2001, coinciding with the 80th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. With an initial designed generating capacity of 4.2 million kw it is one of the ten large projects for developing the western regions. The project will break three records in the world's hydropower station construction: a dam of 192 meters high (ultimately 216.5 meters high), an underground hall of 388.5m x 28.5m x 73.6m, and a boat hoisting machine of 1,700 meters long. Together with the four large hydropower stations and three power transmission projects inaugurated concurrently on November 8, 2000 in Guizhou, Guangxi, Guangdong, Yunnan and Sichuan, its formal inauguration marks the fact that the pace of the project of transmitting power from west to east has been accelerated.
In gas supply, a pipeline of 4,200 kilometers long will be laid between Xinjiang in the west to Shanghai in the east with a total investment of 146.3 billion yuan (about US$17.7 billion). It will transport rich natural gas from Xinjiang to Shanghai and other cities in east China. According to latest surveys, the western regions have reserves of 22.4 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, capable of providing a steady supply in 30 years. Some 100 billion yuan will be invested in the first phase project alone. Construction of a pipeline with a diameter of 111.8 cm will start soon from Lunnan Oil and Gas Field in the Tarim Basin in Xinjiang.
Construction of the two energy projects is expected to spur the development of China's equipment manufacturing industry, power project construction and construction materials industry to a higher level. Observers predict that the energy consumed by the people of the central and eastern regions will be based on natural gas, a much cleaner energy source. Upon completion of the two projects, the western region will become a powerful power base of China while the eastern region will be a manufacturing base with faster operations.
The railway to be built within the next six years between Lhasa, capital of Tibet, and Golmud in Qinghai Province will end the history that Tibet is the only region in China that is not connected with other parts of the country with a railway. The 1,118 km railway, long awaited by Tibetan people, is expected to promote the economic development of Tibet itself, which is less developed than most other parts of the country, because of its unique terrain and unaccessiblity.Built in the center of the Qinghai Tibet Plateau the railway will pass through an area with harsh natural conditions. High and cold, it is short of oxygen. Of the total length of 1, 118 km, 965 km stands at an altitude of more than 4,000 meters above sea level, including a continuous section of 550 km of frozen soil and a section of 138 km through unpopulated zones. Construction of the railway is considered the most challenging and demands careful protection of the natural environment. Besides, the rugged terrain calls for building of more bridges and tunnels, which account for seven percent of the total length. The longest tunnel at Yangbajing will reach 1,720 meters.
The designed carrying capacity of the railway in the short term will be eight pairs of passenger trains daily and the density of one way cargo flow of 5 million tons.
Construction of the railway was officially inaugurated on June 29, 2001. The grand ceremonies were attended by Premier Zhu Rongji in Golmud and VicePremier Wu Bangguo in Lhasa. All the spending will be borne by the central government.
October Ist of this year marks the 52nd anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. On this auspicious occasion, when all Chinese people around the world are celebrating this great day through holding all kinds of functions and activities, I would like to extend on behalf of the Government and people of the People's Republic of China the warmest greetings to the Government and people of the People's Republic of Bangladesh and share the happiness with our friends here in Bangladesh.
Since the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1st, 1949, especially in the recent 22 years of reform and opening up to the outside world, great achievements have been made in the cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics, which have attracted world attention. Our national economy is on the way of farther significant improvement this year, the first of the Tenth Five Year Plan. The GDP grew to $517.4 billion during the first half of this year. Fixed assets investment reached $143 billion, an increase of 15.13 percent. Retails sales amounted to $215.8 billion, increased by 10%. Industrial output value registered $238.7 billion while agriculture generated $544 billion. The total volume of foreign trade was $241 billion. Exports increased by 8.8% and imports by 14%. The annual growth rate of China's economy in 2001 will be 7.3%, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Foreign investors are confident of the prospect of China's Economy. During the first half of this year, 10,000 more foreign funded enterprises settled in China. The total contracted foreign investment amounted to $33.4 billion, an increase of 38.23% than the same period last year, foreign capital actually in place stood $20.6 billion, rose by 20.53%. The economic restructuring is going on vigorously with effective supply capacity increase. Fresh progress has been registered in agricultural restructuring. High tech industries develop rapidly with much of the high tech knowledge turned into productive forces. The reform of the state owned enterprises is basically finished and many of the laid offs are reemployed. Holiday economy shows the enormous potentiality of market. All these bear testimony of the fact that China is now the country with the fastest and most stable economic development.
Some other facts betoken a more prosperous future for China. China's entry of WTO, about to take place before the end of this year, will further encourage exports and foreign investment. Beijing's winning of the bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games will add fuel to the country's economy in the coming years. Furthermore, the Chinese Government began implementing the strategy for the large scale development of West China, shifting the focus of economic construction from the east to the west of the country. The state certainly has the condition and capacity to support the rapid development of the western regions with the solid material and technology bases.
The Chinese nation underwent enormous hardships in history yet ethnic unity and national unification have always been the mainstream in records of the Chinese civilization. Complete reunification of the country is the lofty goal that the Chinese people have cherished from generation to generation. The return of Hong Kong and Macao to the motherland has proven that the reunification of China serves the stability and prosperity in Asia. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. The basic principles of peaceful reunification and "one country, two systems" to solve Taiwan question represent the common aspiration of all Chinese people and the overwhelming historical trend of China's development.
China and Bangladesh are close neighbors enjoying a profound friendship dating back to ancient times. Over the past 26 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, thanks to the care of the leaders of our two countries and the joint efforts by the two sides, the Sino Bangladesh relations enjoy an all around improvement and the bilateral cooperation based on mutual benefit have predicted fruitful results.
I am very happy that the existing close friendship and cooperation between our two countries will be further promoted this year which has witnessed exchanges of multi level visits between our two sides, bringing our two nations and two peoples even closer. The already completed International Convention Center built by interest free loan rendered by the Chinese Government and the fifth Sino Bangladesh Friendship Bridge under construction symbolize the strengthened traditional friendship between the two countries. Our two countries always share common views on the important issues in international affairs. We trust each other, understand each other and support each other. The Chinese government highly appreciates the Bangladesh Government for its adherence to the One China Policy and its support to China on issues like Taiwan, Tibet and human rights.
The bilateral relations between China and Bangladesh are consistently growing and expanding through many areas of cooperation. I firmly believe that the deep and enduring bond of friendship and cooperation between our two countries will constantly flourish, which is not only beneficial to the people of the two countries, but also conducive to the peace, stability and prosperity of the region. Let's join our hands to build a more healthy and vigorous Sino Bangladesh friendly relationship in the new century.
May China and Bangladesh enjoy prosperity and the people of the two countries well being.
Hu QianwenAmbassador of the People's Republic of China to the People's Republic of Bangladesh
Copyright 1998-2005, Tibet Environmental Watch (TEW)