A deep-water port began operation at Yangshan Isles of Shanghai on Saturday.
The Yangshan Deep-water Port, a mammoth facility 27.5 kilometers from Luchao Port in Shanghai's Nanhui District, is expected to turn the east China metropolis into an international maritime shipping center in the real sense.
The deep-water port is located in Shengsi County of Zhejiang Province at the mouth of the Yangtze River, about 45 km from the Pudong International Airport.
The port is designed to have an annual handling capacity of 25 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) when the entire project is completed in 2020.
The recently completed first phase of the construction has put into operation a 1.6-kilometer long hydraulic dock with five berths. By 2010, the dock will be extended to 11 km with around 30 births, port authorities told Xinhua.
Launching of the port has been praised by Vice Premier Huang Ju as a "major breakthrough" in Shanghai's building of an international maritime shipping center.
Huang visited the port Saturday and proclaimed its formal start of operation. At the launching ceremony, he urged relevant departments, provinces and cities to speed up port construction in line with the plans approved by the State Council so as to ease the country's transportation bottleneck and boost the steady and fast growth of the national economy.
"We should speed up construction of new ports in line with the long and medium-term plans approved by the State Council, and further tap the potentials of existing facilities, too," he said.
He said it's important to take full advantage of the Yangtze waterway and better serve social and economic development of the Yangtze River Delta, the Yangtze drainage areas and the entire country.
Though Shanghai's name literally means "on the sea", the main part of the city sits inland on the banks of the Huangpu River, which runs into the Yangtze, China's longest waterway. Heavy silting in the Yangtze Delta region has long prevented it from serving as a deep-water port.
The idea to transform Shanghai Port into an international shipping center was initially proposed by the Chinese government in 1996, but since the port is only seven meters deep, a new site had to be located.
An eight-square-kilometer bonded area at the port and the Yangshan Port Customs were also launched on Saturday.
(Xinhua News Agency December 11, 2005)