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Feasibility of cross-Straits tunnel discussed
By Li Dapeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-08 05:50

FUZHOU: Experts from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan gathered yesterday to discuss the feasibility of building an underwater tunnel across the Taiwan Straits.

This is the fifth time that experts from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan held seminars since 1998 on the project to construct the world's longest underwater tunnel.

Among the three planned routes proposed in the previous discussions, the northern route, linking Pingtan Island of East China's Fujian Province with Hsinchu of Taiwan, is considered the best and most feasible.

Pingtan, the mainland's closest county to Taiwan, is only 124 kilometres away from Hsinchu. The short distance will cut down the construction cost compared with other planned routes, said Peng Funan, an expert with the Second Institute of Oceanography of the State Bureau of Oceanic Administration.

Peng explained that this sea area, with a comparatively stable geological structure and shallower water, is not situated in the region prone to strong earthquakes, thus making it suitable for tunnel construction.

Moreover, the bridge between Pingtan Island and Fuqing, a suburban city of Fuzhou, capital of Fujian, has been approved by the National Development and Reform Commission. Meanwhile, Hsinchu is very close to Taipei.

That means the tunnel will link Fuzhou and Taipei, the political, economic and cultural centres of the two provinces, which will greatly boost the economic development of the Straits, said Peng.

"The cross-Straits tunnel has become more realistic from a single concept," said Mao Yulin, secretary-general with Mao Yisheng Technology and Education Fund Commission.

"But we need more efforts in the east bank of the Straits."

In January 2005, the Ministry of Communications announced the nation's highway network construction plan in the next 20 years, including a highway from Beijing to Taipei. The construction of the cross-Straits tunnel has been formally listed in the country's communications development plan.

Taiwan expert Chiu Sou-laung told China Daily that though Taiwan authorities thought the cross-Straits tunnel is impossible and haven't taken action yet, the project is technologically possible.

"As the exchanges between the two sides strengthen gradually, I think the project will get more and more attention from the Taiwan side," added Chiu.

(China Daily 11/08/2005 page2)

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