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Thursday, March 15, 2001, updated at 15:42(GMT+8)

Four Major Projects Will Re-draw China's Economic Division Map

The four major projects-south-to-north water diversion, west-to-east gas transfer, west-to-east power transmission and the construction of Qinghai-Tibet Railway set down in the Outline of the 10th Five-year Plan-will be successively launched in the next five years.

NPC deputies and CPPCC members attending the ongoing "two sessions" said that like the 56 key projects built shortly after the founding of New China in 1949, these four major projects will open a new chapter in the history of the Republic on the construction of key projects during the new century.

The four major projects once again demonstrate the heroic spirit of the industrious and valiant Chinese people: An unprecedented mammoth transfer of resources will mean the re-drawing of China's economic division map.

South-to-North Water Diversion: Strategic restructuring of water resources

The vast north Chinese land that has been dried for many years is in urgent need of aid from the water-rich south China. So construction of a project diverting water from the south to the north began after the birth of New China.

Although China has built many cross-river valley or long-distance water-diversion projects over the past half century, the "water-rich south and water-deficient north" problem, however, has so far not been fundamentally resolved. In the last year of the 20th century, north China was hit by the severest drought ever in the past 50 years. How to rearrange the distribution of the country's water resources has become an urgent task placed before us. So the "south-to-north water diversion" project has again been placed on the agenda.

Based on experts' scientific, long-term discussions and proofs, the project takes three formulas for diverting water through the west, east and middle lines. The west-line formula is diverting water from the upper reaches of the Yangtze River into the Yellow River, so as to solve the water-shortage problem facing the northwest region; the east-line formula is to transfer water from the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, which flows northward along the northern Jiangsu section of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal and along other rivers and lakes and through the Yellow River in the vicinity of Dongping of Shandong Province into Hebei Province and Tianjin Municipality; the middle-line formula is to divert water from the reservoir at the Danjiang River mouth on the upstream of the Hanjiang River, then flows across the valleys of the Yangtze, Huaihe, Yellow and Haihe rivers straight through a number of cities in Henan and Hebei provinces into Beijing and Tianjin. Such a magnificent project is rarely seen in the world history of water conservancy.

The great significance of the south-to-north water transfer project lies in the overall, strategic structural readjustment of the water resources of China's Yangtze and Yellow river valleys. After completion of the project, the volume of water transferred annually will be equal to that of another Yellow River created in the north, which will mean fundamentally reversing the passive situation featuring the serious unbalanced distribution of China's water resources.

With the re-setting of the distribution of water resources, not only will more than 20 big and medium-sized cities including Beijing, Tianjin, and Shijiazhuang free themselves from the fetter of water shortage, but new economic growth points will arise in regions along the line, particularly western regions.

Transmitting Energies to East China: Coordinated national efforts to stimulate the State economy

The reform and opening up drive has kept the rapid Chinese economic development (higher than the world average rate of economic growth) for more than 20 years. In the new century, more petroleum and gas will be needed for the "train" of China's speeding economic development. In China's economically developed southeast coastal areas, the shortage of energy has restrained local economic growth.

Objectively, the distribution of China's energies is seriously unbalanced: on the one hand, the expansive western areas have rich deposits of natural gas, petroleum, hydroelectric power and other important resources, huge volume of hydroelectric power is waste there; on the other hand, the rapidly developing eastern region needs the import and supplement of various resources and energies.

This situation of energy distribution has caused rising production cost in the southeastern region dominated by an export-oriented economy. And yet the energy-rich western region is leading a poor life. Construction of the two major projects: west-to-east power transmission and west-to-east gas transfer will rationalize China's energy distribution, and will greatly improve the overall economic benefits of the State economy.

West-to-east Power Transmission

The west-to-east power transmission is an indicative project of the large-scale development of the western region. During the 10th Five-year Plan period, this project will lead to the formation of a north-middle-south route power transmission pattern: The north route will transmit power from Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi and other provinces and autonomous regions to north China power grid, five years later it will transmit 2.7 million kw power to Beijing, Tianjin and Tangshan regions; the middle route will send power from Sichuan and other provinces to central and east China power grid; and the south route from Yunnan, Guizhou Guangxi and other provinces and autonomous region to south China, five years later, it will transmit 10 million kw power to Guangdong Province. The west-to-east gas transfer project involving a total investment of 146.3 billion yuan will have a 4,200-km pipeline laid to transfer the rich natural gas from western Xinjiang and other regions to energy-short Shanghai and other eastern areas. Current exploration shows that the western region has a deposit of 22,400 billion cubic meters of natural gas resources and can transfer 12 billion cubic meters of gas annually to the Yangtze River Delta and other regions along the line, so there is no problem with the stable supply of natural gas for 30 years.

Implementation of the west-to-east power transmission project and the west-to-east gas transfer project will boost the development of China's manufacturing, power construction and building materials industries. Energy consumption of the people in the central and eastern regions will enter the era of clean and high-efficient natural gas. Completion of the two major projects will turn the western region into a powerful energy base of China, while the eastern region will become a production base of rapid operation. When eastern and western regions that link to and promote each other realize common rapid development, all undertakings (like coordinated nationwide efforts on a single chessboard) of the country will develop more vigorously.

Qinghai-Tibet Railway: the biggest "Cross" character in the world rail network

For the Tibetan people who have just entered into the 21st century, the most gratifying news is: nothing is more than construction of a Qinghai-Tibet Railway. Following the Qinghai-Tibet Highway, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway will add a "golden bridge" leading to a happy life for the offspring of the million serfs, people of the whole country and overseas tourists will find it more easy and convenient to travel to the "Roof of the World".

Over the past 50 years, the Chinese people have completely changed the history recording that there was almost no railway to the west of the Beijing-Guangzhou Railway in the early stage after the founding of New China.

A look at the map of Chinese railways in operation reveals that if the Beijing-Kowloon Railway built during the Ninth Five-year Plan period is seen as a bold "vertical" stroke that runs north and south, then, the 1,118-km-long Qinghai-Tibet Railway, at the western end of the Longhai (Lanzhou-Lianyungang) Railway line, to be built during the 10th Five-year Plan period, that leads to Lhasa, will represent a mighty "horizontal" stroke, these "vertical" and "horizontal" strokes that run through the whole of China will be formed into the largest "Cross" character in the world's railway web.

Along with the implementation of the strategy for the large-scale development of the western region, opening the railway passageway between the inland and Tibet has become imperative.

According to the plan, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway starts from Golmud City, Qinghai Province through Wangkun of Qinghai Province, across Tanggula Mountain and into the Tibet Autonomous Region, then via Amdo, Nagqu and Damxung counties, it finally reaches Lhasa City, the capital of the autonomous region. After completion of this railway, it will greatly promote the development of this region.

More importantly, construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway will perfect the crisscrossing, trunk-feeder integrated railway transport network.. Then, the eastern, central, western regions, and south and north China will be linked to each other and integrated more closely.

Construction of the four major projects will bring even better life for the common people. In just a few years to come, Wuhan will use electricity from Sichuan, Shanghai will burn natural gas from Xinjiang, people from the eastern region will arrive at Lhasa or the "sunshine city" by train, and people of north China will drink sweet water from the Yangtze River��.

The four major projects will become a strong driving mechanism for developing the western region, balancing resources, stimulating domestic demands and expanding markets; economic development in western, central and eastern regions will become integrated, the economies in less developed areas will grow rapidly, developed areas will have greater driving force for development. In the new century, the train of the Chinese economy will roar all the way forward and will never stop advancing.

This article is published on Page 2 of People's Daily, Overseas Edition March 14

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The four major projects-south-to-north water diversion, west-to-east gas transfer, west-to-east power transmission and the construction of Qinghai-Tibet Railway set down in the Outline of the 10th Five-year Plan-will be successively launched in the next five years.

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