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China plans manned plunge to 7,000 meters beneath sea level
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China will test its deep-sea manned submersible that can reach as far as 7,000 meters below sea level, according to a government plan issued by the State Oceanic Administration.

Research on the manned submersible had been given "equal importance with China's space endeavors", said the administration.

Selection for the crew began in August 2006 will conclude by 2010. The country will also finish building a support vessel for initial tests during the same period.

The administration's plan also said China would finish building its first-phase deep-sea base project by 2010. It would be equipped for deep-sea natural resources inspections, as well as research and tests of equipment designed for deep-sea use.

(Xinhua News Agency February 22, 2008)

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