Posted on September 22, 2022
“These are good times for local officials who want to build expensive infrastructure. To revive a flagging economy, battered by draconian pandemic-control measures, the central government is giving them freer rein. The southern province of Guangxi has a project that fits the bill: a canal costing $10.5bn that will link its main river system to the sea. It will involve a spree of demolition, digging, dredging and building over the next four and a half years. Mulled over for more than a century, the project began last month.
The Pinglu Canal may sound piffling compared with the country’s most famous man-made waterway: the Grand Canal, much of which was built 1,400 years ago and which stretches more than 1,700km from the eastern city of Hangzhou to the capital, Beijing. According to the World Bank, part of the ancient channel was the third-busiest of the world’s inland waterways in 2017 by volume of cargo transported—and the only canal in the top six. The Pinglu will be a mere 135km long. Just 6.5km of it will be freshly dug. The rest will use existing river courses.