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Yangtze River Issues

The Yangtze, which stretches for more than 6,300km, is the longest river in China and the third longest in the world, after the Nile (6,670km) and the Amazon (6,500km). It is larger than any other river in terms of total cargo throughput. The Yangtze dominates China’s inland water transport sector, being the only river that connects eastern, central and western parts of the country. Starting from the Geladandong peak on the Tibet-Qinghai plateau, it runs through Qinghai, Tibet, Sichuan, Chongqing, Yunnan, Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi, Anhui, Jiangsu and Shanghai, before flowing into the East China Sea to the east of Chongming Island.

Long regarded as China’s ‘golden waterway’, the Yangtze and its 3,600-odd tributaries have a combined navigable length of more than 70,000km, making up 70 per cent of China’s total. It is also the country’s busiest river, accounting for 80 per cent of all cargo volumes. Even so, it remains a sorely under-utilised resource; only in the lower reaches is the river used to anything like its true potential. The ports in Jiangsu province, from Taicang near the coast to Nanjing some 300km inland, handle about two-thirds of the Yangtze’s total cargo, and around three-quarters of its container throughput.

Large amounts of money are being invested to improve utilisation of this natural resource along its whole navigable length. The central government has pledged to invest Rmb15bn in developing the Yangtze between 2006 and 2010. The money is being spent on waterway management, port construction, shipbuilding standardisation and shipping security projects.

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