The Van Trump Report

China Saying they Could Become a Net-Food Exporter with NEW Water Project

China has begun work on what will be the world’s largest water tunnel, designed to transport water from Three Gorges Dam (also the world’s largest) to the Han River, where it will then connect to what will be the world’s largest canal. The nearly 125-mile-long Yinjiangbuhan tunnel is just a tiny portion of what’s known as the “South-North Water Diversion Project,” the largest transfer of water between river basins in history, with the aim of channeling nearly 44.8 billion cubic meters (11.83 trillion gallons) of fresh water annually from China’s major rivers northward through three canal systems.

China has long struggled with its uneven distribution of water resources, where the east and south of the country experience frequent flooding while water scarcity severely limits development and food production in the west and north. Four-fifths of the country’s water is in the south, where half the population lives. But in the north, 11 provinces have less than 1,000 cubic meters of water per person per year, which is the internationally accepted measure of water stress.

The South-North Water Diversion Project was initially conceived as far back as the 1950s by People’s Republic of China (PRC) founder Mao Zedong, but the project did not officially get underway until around 2002. Planned for completion in 2050, the diversion project will link China’s four main rivers – the Yangtze, Yellow River, Huaihe, and Haihe – and requires the construction of three diversion routes, stretching south-to-north across the eastern, central, and western parts of the country. The complete project is expected to cost $62 billion with the total length of tunnels and canals expected to stretch more than 12,000 miles.

The Yinjiangbuhan tunnel will connect water from the Han River to the central route of the South-to-North Water Transfer Project. When the water has reached the Danjiangkou Reservoir, located in the lower course of the Han, it will continue its journey as far north as Beijing via an 870-mile-long open canal, the longest in the world. The tunnel itself will go as deep as 3,200 feet below ground in some places. China estimates the tunnel alone it will take about a decade to build and cost nearly $9 billion.

Zhang Xiangwei, director of the planning department with the Ministry of Water Resources, said the Yinjiangbuhan tunnel was “a curtain raiser” for other projects. According to official China news outlets, the country’s economic slowdown has prompted the government to again fun large-scale infrastructure projects in order to stimulate growth.

Details about the full South-North project are still a bit vague but one of the expected benefits will be the conversion of nearly 290,000 square miles of waste land into productive farmland. One official even speculates that the project could help China could become a net exporter of grain and oilseeds by 2043, reaching as much as 100 million metric tons by 2050.  

The South-to-North Water Diversion Project has already sent more than 14,000 gallons of water from the Yangtze River region to meet the demand of over 140 million people in northern China since it started operating in 2014. According to scientists involved in the project, China is building an even bigger “world’s longest tunnel” in Xinjiang with more than 20 tunnel boring machines – the world’s largest fleet of its kind – working together. (Sources: South Morning China Post,, Interesting Engineering)

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