The State Council has approved a national inland waterway and port plan jointly formulated by the National Reform and Development Commission and the Ministry of Communications, said Weng Mengyong, Vice Minister of Communications.
According to the plan, China will construct a network connecting superior waterways composed of the trunks of the Yangtze River, Xijiang River and Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, the Yangtze Delta Waterway Network, the Pearl River Delta Waterway Network, as well as 18 other waterways.
The superior network, capable of carrying thousand-ton vessels, has a total length of 19,000 kilometers, 14,300 kilometers or 75 percent of which are third-grade waterways, while the rest 4,800 kilometers or 25 percent are fourth-grade ones.
The plan will be implemented from 2007 to 2020 under two categories, superior waterways and others. All inland ports will also be categories into either main ports, regional ports or general ports. Twenty-eight ports of all types will be in the network, including Chongqing Port, Wuhan Port, Nanchang Port, Wuxi Port, and Hanzhou Port.
When finished, the water network will run through 20 provinces or regions, connecting 56 cities each with a population of over 500,000 and 27 national-level ports. By 2010, inland waterways will be able to carry 40 percent more of the current level and the capacity will double by 2020.
Shanghai may be the biggest beneficiary from the plan, as the network will on the one hand boost communication between China's financial center and other cities, and on the other, more goods will be traded via Shanghai Port, which will quickly help Shanghai establish itself as an international shipping center.