Proposed Railway Along Yangtze River Significant

Construction of a long-expected 2, 400-km railway running parallel to the Yangtze, China's longest river, is of national importance and is set to be approved by the central government thanks to a proposal put forward by Gu Shengzhu, a member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Construction of the railway consists chiefly in the laying of 400 km tracks from western Hubei province to Chongqing Municipality across a mountainous area to connect existing railways that run from east to west in the Yangtze River valley. The Ministry of Railways has paid great attention to the proposal and is making preparations to build it.

Ministry officials say the project is expected to be launched soon and will cost 12 billion yuan (US$1.46 billion).

When completed, the Yangtze River valley railway would run 2, 400 km from Shanghai on the east coast to Chongqing, the biggest industrial city in southwest China, to become a major east-west transportation artery in China.

Gu, who is also vice-mayor of Wuhan, said construction of the railway that connects eastern and western China should be given " top priority" in the country's ambitious program to develop its western regions.

The 44 year-old professor of economics said that the "greatest growth potential in the 21st century of China lies in the middle and western parts of China" and that it is the Yangtze River that reaches the heartland of these parts.

In a proposal submitted to the CPPCC national committee last year, Gu said construction of the line is of great strategic importance to the development of the country's vast underdeveloped middle and western regions and the country's economic takeoff in general.

The proposed line will facilitate the flow of capital, technology and human resources between the eastern, middle and western regions of the country and the introduction of overseas capital and technology, said Gu.

The project will also be a boost to the development of major cities along the Yangtze River, construction of the Three Gorges Dam Project, economic and social development in the Three Gorges reservoir area.

The proposal, however, is only part of 600,000-word reports and 70 proposals submitted by Gu during the past eight years as a CPPCC National Committee member.

(People’s Daily 03/03/2001)