Expressway planned to link Beijing, Taipei
China yesterday announced an ambitious plan to link the Chinese mainland with Taiwan and double the length of its expressway network in 30 years.
"The plan also includes an expressway linking the mainland with Taipei," said the minister. Taiwan island sits about 200 kilometres off the coast of the mainland.
Asked how this architectural feat is to be realized, he said the two coasts could be linked by a tunnel or another means in the time frame set forth under the prerequisites of the "Three Direct Links" in mail, transport and trade across the Taiwan Straits. Zhang said the significance of the expressway to Taipei lies in logistics.
"Sound logistics are of great importance in helping Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland lower costs, sharpen competitive edges and upgrade living conditions for every resident (in these places)," he said.
The overall communications situation in China remains a bottleneck to economic development, said Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission at the conference.
The announcement of such a plan will result in the rational utilization of transport resources and the sound layout and connection of cross-regional corridors, he said.
After its completion, the expressway network will connect all provincial cities, large cities with a population over 500,000 and medium-sized cities of over 200,000 people, linking by road more than 1 billion people, according to the National Expressway Network Plan, which was recently approved by the State Council.
The planned expressway network will also stretch to Hong Kong and Macao, and include the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge that the two special administrative regions (SARs) have shown great interest in, the plan said.
"The move will benefit the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, help Hong Kong reduce logistics costs and promote integration of the economies of Hong Kong, Macao, the Pearl River Delta and the inland economy," the minister said.
"The plan has taken into account regional, urban and rural development and population distribution, as well conforming to the nation's social and economic growth," said Li Xinghua, vice-director of the Communications Ministry's department of comprehensive planning, in a recent interview with China Daily.
The plan also highlights regional co-operation by bringing together members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and those West Asian countries who participated the plan's drafting, Li said.
China's expressway construction has been on the fast track since the 1990s. By the end of 2004, China had opened 34,200 kilometres of expressway, ranking it second in the world after the United States, according to the ministry.
While speeding up expansion of the expressway network, the official said China had to properly handle the relationship between road construction, economic growth and environmental protection.
"It has become important for us to prevent environmental damage and work better with available land resources in the process of road construction," Li said.