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Country to Be Linked by Highway Network

The Ministry of Communications announced in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, Tuesday that China will have 1.6 million kilometres of road by 2005.

An integrated nationwide highway communication network will be basically completed by 2005, and 99.5 per cent of the nation's towns and 93 percent of its villages will be connected by highways by that time.

The total communication network is expected to be completed by 2010.

Minister of Communications Huang Zhendong unveiled the plan at the ministry's annual working conference.

He also said that major harbours in coastal regions and along the Yangtze River will be brought up to international standards over the next five years, and 135 new deep-water berths will be built in those regions.

"The handling capacity of those harbours will be 1.4 billion tons annually by 2005," Huang said.

The ministry regards road construction in China's western regions as its most important job over the next 10 years, the minister said.

Some 350,000 kilometres of new road will be built in the region, and major cities, districts and towns will be connected by high standard roads.

Huang said earlier last year that the ministry would give priority to road construction in the region.

An official with the ministry, who asked not to be named, said that investment in the region will account for 40 percent of the ministry's total investment over the next few years.

In the past, annual investment in the region's road system comprised less than 20 percent of the ministry's road-building budget.

Expressways spread fast in China last year, reaching 16,000 km, and the communication ministry plans to have built 25,000 km of expressway by 2005.

While more expressways will be built in China's eastern provinces, more second-grade, high-quality roads will be built in the western parts of the country as a less expensive alternative, Huang said.

The ministry will adopt strict measures to regulate bidding for road construction construction projects.

"All the bidding must strictly follow the prescriptions of the Bidding Law," Huang said, adding that any unit that cheats in the bidding process "will be severely punished and denied the right to bid for three years."

Several major directors from provincial road communication bureaux were involved in corruption cases in 2000. Most of them had received bribes in the granting of construction projects.

The harbours of Shanghai, Qinhuangdao and Ningbo will be renovated to accommodate more international shipping.

The ministry plans to buy some new helicopters and boats for oceanic lifesaving.

Official statistics indicate that the Ministry of Communications built 240,000 km of new road between 1996 and 2000, extending China's roads to 1.4 million km by the end of 2000.

(China Daily 01/09/2001)

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