- New projects reroutes billions of liters of water
- Interest rate cut expected to lighten mood
- Baidu receives license for fully autonomous cabs
- Sanctions against Lithuanian minister
- New maneuvers around Taiwan
- CATL invests in Hungary
- Solar panels delayed at US border
- Opinion: China’s departure from fossil fuels stalls
The Chinese government is unparalleled when it comes to reshaping the physical reality of the world to suit its plans. Whereas it is already difficult in Germany to build a bike path, make room for a railroad track or let alone erect a wind turbine, China literally moves mountains. Or rivers. In the future, even more water from the Yangtze River is to be channeled through a tunnel into the arid north. The project is so huge that even the world’s longest tunnel to date is just half as long. Christiane Kuehl analyzes the details.
A fair amount of faith in technology is also required to set computer-controlled cars loose onto road traffic. Robot cabs are already in operation in Shenzhen, but they do not yet have a license for regular operation. Here, Chongqing and Wuhan are now taking the lead. They have allowed AI company Baidu to use their self-driving taxis in normal daily operations, as our team reports from Beijing. This is the beginning of the end of the cab driver profession. For just a few thousand euros more, cab companies will be able to purchase vehicles and cut labor costs out of the equation.
While such tech projects are making rapid progress, a large chunk of the Chinese economy is struggling. Construction is slowing, private consumption is not advancing, and young people cannot find jobs. As a result, the central bank has made loans cheaper. Our analysis shows: This step was mainly symbolic. An interest rate hike signals that Beijing is doing something for the economy. The improved sentiment has a greater effect than the loans themselves.
Meanwhile, shots are again being fired around Taiwan. Because US delegates once again traveled to the island, China is making good on its threat and is having the navy fire around the island without further warning. What is also concerning is that Beijing has imposed sanctions on a European politician for the first time – also due to a trip to Taiwan. So the current crisis will continue for the time being.
A gigantic tunnel just for water
Densely overgrown mountains characterize the border area between the Chinese provinces of Hubei and Henan. It is precisely there – between the Yangtze River and its tributary the Han River – where the gigantic system for south-north water transfer, which has been covering the drinking water needs of the north for years, is to be expanded. But the thirst in the north continues to grow, while the region is getting drier and drier. So the Yangtze basin will have to provide even more water than before – and in the future directly from the middle reaches.
But the water cannot be pumped across the mountains. So instead of building canals, China’s engineers want to drill what will be the world’s longest water tunnel by far through the mountain ranges. According to the plan, it will be around 250 kilometers long – almost as long as the Autobahn from Hamburg to Berlin. The world’s current number one, the 130-kilometer-long Päijenne Tunnel in Finland, reaches a depth of 130 meters. But the planned Yinjiangbuhan tunnel tops even that. It is to run as deep as 1,000 meters below the mountain slopes.
Huge amounts of water will then flow from the reservoir behind the world’s most powerful hydropower plant at the Three Gorges Dam near Yichang through the pipe toward the Danjiangkou Dam. This is where the middle route of the transfer system, which went into operation in 2014, begins. But the level of the Danjiangkou Reservoir has been falling steadily since 2014 due to long drought periods. And so the reservoir alone can apparently no longer meet the demand on its own.