5 Massive Chinese Public Works Projects (That You Probably Didn’t Know About)

5 Massive Chinese Public Works Projects (That You Probably Didn’t Know About)
Jan 07, 2013 By Trey Archer , eChinacities.com

When the Chinese build, they build big; from the Great Wall to the Grand Canal to the Three Gorges Dam, it definitely seems that many Chinese construction projects are unbelievably enormous. But looking toward the future, there’s much more yet to come. At the time of this writing, China is in the midst of a building frenzy, seemingly with no plans to halt this mammoth construction buzz any time soon. The following is a list of five such colossal projects currently underway in China; each of which will dramatically change the urban landscape and natural environment and, quite possibly, the way her citizens live forever.  

5 Massive Chinese Public Works Projects (That You Probably Didn’t Know About)
Photo: bbc.com

1) Tianjin Eco-City
The government is making a giant effort to thwart the whole “world’s most polluted country” image by creating a massive eco-city between Beijing and Tianjin. The result of a collaborative agreement between China and Singapore’s governments, the Tianjin Eco-City will house 350,000 residents and be half the size of Manhattan. Scheduled for completion in 2020, it’s on track to become the planet’s largest eco-city—even larger than the projected PlanIT Valley in Portugal and Masdar City in Abu Dhabi. To reduce energy consumption, the city will employ an efficient public transportation system while simultaneously promoting cycling and walking with an abundance of pedestrian paths (located separate from the roads for added speed and safety). In addition, the “Green and Blue Network Planning” component will place a “green lung” at the core of the city, consisting of clean rivers, ponds and lakes, as well as water activities and animal sanctuaries. Finally, all of the buildings in the city will be constructed with double-glazed windows, state of the art insulation, water-saving facilities, and light/heat conservation mechanisms to conserve energy.  Find out more about Tianjin Eco-City here: http://www.tianjinecocity.gov.sg.

2) The Chengdu Tianfu District Great City
Apparently Tianjin isn’t the only eco-friendly city being constructed in China. Recently Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture announced plans to build the country’s first “car-less” city outside of Chengdu, Sichuan. Contrary to its title, the city will have streets that permit automobiles; but where this innovative idea sets itself apart is that walking to any destination in the city will take less than 20 minutes, giving citizens an added incentive not to use a car and to significantly reduce their town’s carbon footprint. Along with other conservation efforts, the city will use nearly 50% less energy and 58% less water than other urban Chinese cities while 15% of the total land area will be reserved for a “natural oasis” of parks, trees and rivers. Although construction crews haven’t broken ground yet, once the gigantic eight-year project is completed, the Chengdu Tianfu District Great City is expected to house 30,000 families (roughly 80,000 individuals) and occupy 78 million square feet.

3) Reforesting the Northeastern Provinces
Beijing (and northeast China in general) is often plagued by horrendous weather: brutally cold temperatures in the winter, scorching summer heat, and, perhaps the most irritating of all, sandstorms. This is why the National Development and Reform Commission recently pledged to spend 87.7 billion RMB (nearly 14 billion USD) on top of the 41.2 billion RMB the government already spent during the last 12 years on reforesting the desertification-impacted northeast. Once the total project is finished in 10 years, the reforestation should help protect 138 counties in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Hebei and Inner Mongolia from the vicious northeastern sandstorms. According to Xinhua news agency, more than 60,000 square kilometers have already been planted (a 15% increase in total “forest coverage” for the entire region) while 170,000 individuals from the affected area have already been relocated. Furthermore, following the PRC’s new environmentally-friendly campaign, the reforestation project according to the State Forestry Administration will also positively “transform farming methods in the region, and maintain an ecological balance.”

5 Massive Chinese Public Works Projects (That You Probably Didn’t Know About)
Photo: asianinfrastructure.com

4) South-North Water Transfer Project
Based off of Mao Zendong’s words that “Southern water is plentiful, Northern water is scarce,” the central government plans to “borrow” 44.8 billion cubic meters of southern water per year to quench the dehydrated north. The Central Route of this nationwide project began in 2004, diverting water from the Danjiangkou Reservoir on the Han River to Beijing. Though the Central Route was set to be completed two years ago, it has been delayed until 2014 due to the continuation of relocating people affected by the change in water levels, implementing more environmental protections and building a water tunnel under the Yangtze River. There are also plans for the Eastern Route (which has been talked about since the 1950s) to divert water from the Mekong River into the Yellow River, as well as the Western Route that will drain 200 cubic kilometers towards China’s dry regions. When it’s completed, the South-North Water Transfer Project will stretch thousands of kilometers throughout nearly the entire nation and become larger than the 1,776 km of the Grand Canal – currently the world’s largest artificial river/canal. Impressive scale aside, it should be noted that this project has drawn its fair share of controversy for the displacement of locals in the project’s path and its potential impacts on the surrounding natural environment.

5) Infrastructure Stimulus Package
In light of the world economic slowdown, Beijing has released two nationwide construction policies to improve the country’s infrastructure and stimulate the economy. In March 2011, the 18th National Congress approved the construction of numerous public facilities. Some of these ambitious ventures include: more than 36 million affordable homes for low-income families, 45,000 km of high speed rail, 83,000 km of highway, a new airport in Beijing and a series of hydropower plants in China’s southwest by the year 2015. In September, 2012, the government strengthened this large-scale developmental plan by revealing blueprints for 60 more new infrastructure projects throughout the country; consisting of sewage treatment plants, warehouses, highways/roads, seaports, airports and new metro systems in 18 cities. According to Bloomberg, this new plan in total will cost more than 157 billion USD over the next several years and spread more than 2,000 kilometers of subway track across China.

Related links
The Stone Leviathans: China’s Biggest Building Projects
Big Buildings, Big Bucks: The 10 Most Expensive Buildings in China
Foreign Architects in China: Innovation at the Cost of Culture?

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Keywords: Chinese public works projects Chinese infrastructure plans massive China construction projects


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I was at the Tianjin Eco-City today. While I know it won't be fully complete until 2020, it is hard to imagine that they will fill all those buildings. However, just down the road in Tanggu they are building a financial district that will rival Shanghai's. Tianjin is building like crazy, only time will tell if their economy will burst. If it does, prepare for the revolution...

Jan 16, 2013 15:41 Report Abuse



awesome looking forward to visiting in the future!

Jan 07, 2013 23:52 Report Abuse



Why can't I rate the article? Aren't I a valuable member of this community?

Jan 07, 2013 18:54 Report Abuse



That town is called Erdos, and it's located in Inner Mongolia. It was built for wealthy oil executives to live there, but inevitably they all live in Beijing and commute (who wants to live in the middle of desert?). Mainly the problem there was that the town should have been built for 5,000 people and instead was built for 500,000, sparing no expense, kind of like California City. I totally agree with you on these projects, though. Corruption invades every piece of Chinese society, I'm sure they will be half-assed to the point of breakdown and abandonment.

Jan 07, 2013 21:52 Report Abuse



Tianjin and Chengdu are not Erdos in Inner Mongolia, they are major cities that are rapidly developing. I live in Tianjin now and have visited Chengdu, they are both developing at break neck speed. Hopefully these projects are successful and a future model for Chinese cities (and around the world) to live in a more eco-friendly and substainable environment.

Jan 16, 2013 15:52 Report Abuse



Somehow I don't think these would turn out properly. It will probably be another half-baked projects just like everything else in china.

Jan 07, 2013 08:16 Report Abuse