The National Development and Reform Commission has begun researching the feasibility of a cross-Bohai-Strait channel connecting the cities of Dalian, in Liaoning province and Yantai, in Shandong province.
This cross-Bohai-Strait project has been getting some serious attention, with Hui Kai, president of the Dalian Port Group and an NPC deputy, joining Mu Fanmin, chairman of the Penglai Jinchuang Group and an NPC deputy, in submitting proposals on quicker channel work, on Mar 6.
This is the fifth time the proposal has been submitted and the project has seen some progress, thanks to the efforts of both Dalian and Yantai, and the National Development and Reform Commission has begun doing research on its feasibility.
The Bohai Rim is one of China's most important economic areas, with more than 150 cities and a population of 300 million. The distance across the Bohai strait from Lushun, on the Liaodong Peninsula in the north, to Penglai, on the Shandong Peninsula to the south, is only 160 kilometers as the crow flies.
Hui and Mu, who are from Dalian and Yantai, agree that a cross-Bohai-Strait channel could help create a north-south transportation artery for East China, crossing 10 provinces from Heilongjiang province to Hainan province. The distance from Northeast China to Shandong province and the Yangtze River Delta would be shortened by 1,600 kilometers.
The cost of such a project has been estimated at more than 200 billion yuan ($32.26 billion). However, Hui and Mu say that the project could be done by using some large previous cross-sea projects as a reference point and raising funds in a number of ways. For example, it could consider such financing models such as BOT (build-operate-transfer) and PPP (public-private partnership). And, if the project receives policy support from China, it could be completed with little or no government investment.
With a conservative estimate of, say, 30,000 vehicles using the channel annually, 13 billion yuan of toll could be collected annually the time the project is completed. Moreover, the social benefits will mean increased land rates and tourism revenue and savings in fuel and materials. At that rate, it could take 10 to 15 years to get the 200 billion yuan back, but with a return on investment much higher than that of other large industrial projects.
Deputies from Dalian and Yantai have proposed that the State Council set up a coordination team to continue the research on the project.
Edited by Zhao Qian and Roger Bradshaw