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Yangtze Expected to Play Key Role in Developing Western Region

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 00/11/23; November 23, 2000.]

People's Daily, Wednesday, November 22, 2000,

The Yangtze River, the longest river in China, is expected to play an important role in developing the vast western region of the country.

"Yangtze will serve as a major channel that facilitates the western region to develop industries, technologies and markets," said an official with the Yangtze River Shipping Group.

The total navigation route on the Yangtze River water system is 55,300 kilometers, or 53 percent of China's total inland river navigation route open to ships.

The 6,300-kilometre-long Yangtze River flows past Qinghai, Tibet, Yunnan, Sichuan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui, Jiangsu and Shanghai, where it empties into the East China Sea. Many of its tributaries connect the western region with the eastern region through the Yangtze.

At present, an "industrial corridor" covering iron and steel, petro-chemical and automobile and electric power has been formed in the Yangtze River valley.

Statistics show that iron and steel enterprises along the river produce 45 percent of China's total steel output, and the petro-chemical output value in the area accounts for 40 percent of the country's total.

The region also produces over 47 percent of China's output of automobiles, and boasts massive power projects, such as the Three

Gorges Power Project and Gezhouba Hydropower Station. The Yangtze River valley is also an important agricultural belt of China, whose output value accounts for more than 40 percent of the national total.

The region has set up 28 high-tech development zones. The provinces along the river have achieved marked progress in developing such industrial sectors as e-information, bio-technology, electro-mechanical and new materials.

The Yangtze River also connects a group of commercial centers including Shanghai, Wuhan and Chongqing.

Experts predicted that by 2010, cargo transportation on the Yangtze will reach 300 million tons annually. Container transportation and transportation in other forms are also expected to increase sharply. v Experts pointed out that at present, less than 10 percent of the Yangtze's navigation capacity is used. They also stressed that water transportation is of great significance in protecting ecology and is beneficial to economic development.

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