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Canal Proposed for Shandong Peninsula
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An oceanographer has proposed to dig a canal on the Shandong Peninsula to connect the Laizhou Gulf to the north with the Jiaozhou Gulf to the south, according to a Jinan Daily report on January 12.

The ecological environments of the Laizhou Gulf in the Bohai Sea, and the Jiaozhou Gulf in the Yellow Sea have steadily worsened over the last two decades. Pollution increased by 600 percent in 2004 compared to the previous year.


"Saving the offshore environment has become a task that must be carried out without delay," Wang Shicheng, vice head of the Shandong Provincial Department of Ocean and Fishery (SPDOF), wrote in a proposal submitted to the 4th Session of the 9th Shandong Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which opened in Jinan January 14.


The canal should strengthen the water-body exchange capacity between the two gulfs, which is conducive to eco-environmental improvement, Wang said.


The proposed 130 km canal, 10 meters at its deepest, will be the world's second longest after the 195 km Suez Canal in Egypt. Its construction will also tremendously revitalize the economy in east China's Shandong Province.


Currently, the voyage distance from Bohai to the Yellow Sea is 2,000 kilometers. With the canal, it will be reduced to just 130 kilometers, and many inland cities such as Jiaozhou, Pingdu and Gaomi will be turned into ports providing greater promise for economic development.


The SPDOF convened a symposium in the port city of Qingdao last August, which was attended by 15 experts from the Institute of Oceanology with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Ocean University of China (OUC) and other institutions. While fully affirming the project's ecological and economic significance, CAS academician Liu Ruiyu suggested that the provincial government conduct an investigation and feasibility study at the earliest date, to provide data that would substantiate their proposal.


The Yuan (1279-1368) and Ming (1368-1644) dynasties had cut a Jiao-Lai Canal to transport grain to the capital. The low-lying but smooth terrain along the abandoned riverbed creates favorable conditions for the construction of a new canal. "In addition, we can draw from the experiences of other countries, particularly those responsible for building the Panama and Suez canals. And we have the technology necessary for controlling any possible soil salinization," Wang said.


He has proposed that the provincial government provide 3 million yuan (US$375,000) for further research. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the construction of the canal should start within five years. Construction should take three years before the canal can be opened to navigation, Wang said. He estimates the entire project construction to cost 100 billion yuan (US$12.5 billion).


( by Shao Da, January 18, 2006)

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