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Story of Li Shuncai, architect of world's largest water diversion project

China.org.cnUpdated: February 25, 2019

On Jan. 24, the Construction and Administration Bureau of the Central Route of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project held the award ceremony of the "2018 Outstanding Figures of the Bureau."

Li Shuncai, deputy director of the water diversion project, was among those who received this award. Li was modest in his speech: "It is our joint efforts that secure the smooth operation of the project."

For 15 years, Li has dedicated himself to the construction and management of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project, the world's largest water diversion project that has a completed canal route of over 1,000 kilometers. During that time, he has also shared and passed on his experience to a group of promising junior engineers.


Since the launch of the central route of the water diversion project, Li has devoted himself to every detail of the project, from formulating the operation regulations and standards to overseeing production safety as well as emergency management.

At the beginning, the proposal of developing new measures of management had received objections. At every seminar, Li shared his new ideas about management and tried to convince each representative present of the significance of upgrading the management measures. In his eyes, to improve the control of funds and the quality of maintenance, projects should be classified in line with their requirements for maintenance.

The evaluation of project maintenance effectiveness was for the first time carried out in 2018 under the guidance of Li, covering 25 sample projects. Teams working on civil engineering, electro mechanics, water quality control, scientific research, safety monitoring, and other aspects of the project all received instructions and feedback from Li on improving management. The evaluation report provided ideas for promoting project management such as using rewards and punishments.

Ni Sheng from the Quality and Safety Supervision Center of the bureau worked with Li during the evaluation.

Ni said Li had kept in his mind the technical standards and regulations of the water conservancy industry, and therefore he could identify problems as precisely as a computer.

"Working with him, I feel myself improving each day," Ni said.


Li has two piles of documents on his desk, and each document is filled with notes and revisions. In the past few years, Li has revised several hundred documents totaling some 10 million words.

"Mr. Li would spend hours on revising the documents, word for word and paragraph by paragraph. Sometimes he even forgot to eat on time," said Xiao Wensu, a colleague of Li's at the bureau's project maintenance center.

Li carried out flood prevention activities and safety inspections many times at the construction site. He often spent days at the site, doing inspections in order to timely address any possible threats to the project and personnel safety.

Once, upon arriving at a construction site, Li abruptly ordered a stop to all operations. Pointing to a tipped-over acetylene cylinder on the ground, Li asked sternly, "Can the acetylene bottle be laid down? It's only two meters to the oxygen cylinder. It's totally against rules. The bottle is very likely to explode. Now stop all the operations."

"It was Li that helped us to avoid a production accident," said the person in charge of the field work.