National Plan for Inland Waterways and Ports
1. Background and Guidelines of the Plan
Inland water transport is an important component of our national comprehensive transport system and the integrated utilization of water resources, as well as a strategic resource for the sustainable development of our economy and society. The acceleration of the development of inland water transport accords with the scientific development concept and the request of building an energy-efficient and environment-friendly society.
The CPC Central Committee and the State Council have been attaching great importance to the development of inland water transport, and the whole society is also very concerned about this issue. Since the Ninth ‘Five-Year Plan' period, the central government has set up an exclusive fund for the development of inland water transport, thanks to which, the construction of inland waterways and port facilities has made significant progress. The total cargo volume transported by inland water has been increasing continuously and the momentum of vessel standardization is moving on smoothly. The water transport market is becoming more and more active. All these indicate that the inland water transport has entered an era of rapid development. A national inland water transport network is gradually formed, with the Yangtze River, the Pearl River, the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, the Huaihe River , the Heilongjiang River and the Song-Liao Waters as the main arteries of the network. The hinterland of the inland water transport service has been well expanded, and the service quality has been remarkably improved. The Yangtze River has become the world's busiest navigable river with the largest cargoes transport volumes, which makes it play an important role in the sustainable and rapid socio-economic development of the river basin area.
In 2005, the length of inland waterways in China accumulated to 123,000 kilometers, taking up 29 percent of the total length of all rivers in China . These waterways are mainly distributed in the Yangtze River, the Pearl River and the Huaihe Waters. There are altogether 15,328 km of waterways of Class 4 and above, which are navigable for vessels over 500 tons, taking up about 12 percent of the total length of the waterways; while waterways of Class 3 and above, which are navigable for vessels over 1000, are 8,631 km tons, only 7 percent of that of the total. In 2005, the total volume and turnover of cargoes transported by inland water reached 1.49 billion tons and 363.5 billion tons/km respectively, while the number and turnover of passengers thereof totaled 126 million and 3.14 billion persons/km respectively. There are 1300 inland ports with 30,944 berths in total, among which 187 berths are able to accommodate vessels over 10,000 tons. The aggregated volume of cargoes and number of passengers handled by inland ports were 1.845 billion tons and 129 million person-times respectively.
Due to some historical reasons, insufficient investment in inland waterways and ports construction resulted in the poor conditions of inland water transport infrastructure, including fewer high-classed waterways, lower standards of the passage of the main and branch waterways, small number of specialized berths and the small tonnage of transport ships. At the same time, difficulties lie in coordination because the development of inland water transport involves different industries and regions
In order to make full use of the advantages of inland water transport, ensure the healthy development of inland water transport, meet the ever increasing demand of cargo and passenger transport, improve the national comprehensive transport system, and promote the integrated exploration and rational utilization of water resources, the Ministry of Communications and the National Development and Reform Commission jointly worked out the National Plan for Inland Waterways and Ports in accordance with the Law on Port and the Regulations on the Administration of Waterways.
2. Process of the Stipulation of the Plan
The process launched officially in 2004, before which the Ministry of Communications had carried out a series of studies and planning, including the strategic study on inland water transport, the development plan for inland water transport in the western area, the network plan for the high-classed waterways of the Yangtze River Delta, the network plan for the high-classed waterways of the Pearl River Delta, and the development plans for the inland water transport of the Yangtze waters and the Pearl waters. All these studies and planning have laid a good foundation for the stipulation of the Plan. During the process of the stipulation of the Plan, we also conducted the analysis of the demand for inland water transport as well as the study on general layout of waterways and ports, summarizing the regular pattern of the development of domestic inland water transport and learning experience from developed countries in Europe and America . The Ministry of Communications and the National Development and Reform Commission invited officials form the relevant ministries, experts and representatives from Development and Reform Commissions and transport authorities of the relevant localities for consultancy, discussion and assessment. Based on the advice and suggestions of various ministries and municipal governments, the Plan has been modified revised lots of times and finally become a scientific and optimized document, which accords with the current status of China 's inland water transport and provides pragmatic guidelines for the development of the sector.
3. The content of the Plan
The implementation of the National Plan for Inland Waterways and Ports will be from 2007 to 2020. In the Plan, the inland waterways are classified into two categories, high-classed waterways and other-classed waterways, while the ports are classified into 3 categories, namely, main ports, regional critical ports and normal ports. The Plan focuses on high-classed waterways and main ports. Other-classed waterways, regional critical ports and normal ports will be specified in the plans made by the provincial governments.
The national plan for the general layout of the high-classed inland waterways is as follows:
In areas, such as the Yangtze River waters, the Pearl River waters, the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal and Huaihe River waters, Heilongjiang River and Song-Liao waters, where there are abundant water resources, the general layout of the high-classed waterways will be composed of the mainstreams of the Yangtze River and the Xijiang River, the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, and the sub-networks of the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta, in addition to another 18 mainstreams and branches of rivers, which forms the national waterway network with waterways navigable to vessels of 1,000 tonnages and above as the backbones. The length of the planned high-classed waterways totals 19,000 km (15% of the total length of the country's inland waterways), among which 14,300 km are of class 3, and 4,800 km , of class 4, taking up 75% and 25% of the total respectively. The high-classed inland waterways include the Yangtze River waters, the Pearl River waters, the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, the Yangtze River Delta sub-network, the Pearl River sub-network, the Minjiang River, the Jialingjiang River, the Wujiang River, the Xiangjiang River, the Yuanshui River, the Hanjiang River, the Hanjiang Canal, the Ganjiang River, Xinjiang River, the Heyu Route, the Huaihe River, the Shayinghe River, the Youjiang River, the Beipanjiang-Hongshuihe River, the Liujiang-Qianjiang River, the Heilingjiang River, the Songhuajiang River, and the Minjiang River.
The plan for ports is as follows:
A port network consists of 28 inland ports with regional main cities radiating to the neighboring cities. These ports include Luzhou Port, Chongqing Port, Yichang Port, Jingzhou Port, Wuhan Port, Huangshi Port, Changsha Port, Yueyang Port, Nanchang Port, Jiujiang Port, Wuhu Port, Anqing Port, Ma'anshan Port, Hefei Port, Huzhou Port, Jiaxing Inland Port, Ji'ning Port, Xuzhou Port, Wuxi Port, Hangzhou Port, Bengbu Port, Nanning Port, Guigang Port, Wuzhou Port, Zhaoqing Port, Foshan Port, Harbin Port and Jiamusi Port.
4. The Outcome of the Implementation of the Plan
The National Plan for Inland Waterways and Ports will be the national guidelines for the rapid and healthy development of inland water transport in the coming years. It promotes the rational exploration and effective utilization of water resources, makes full use of the advantages of inland water transport, pushes forward the integrated utilization and the optimization of the comprehensive transport system, which will have profound influence on the development of inland water transport in China .
The high-classed inland waterways and main ports in the Plan cover 20 provinces (regions and cities), connecting 56 cities with a population over 500,000, linking 27 national class I land posts. The network connects the natural resources origins with main energy consuming areas, which pushes forward the harmonious and sustainable regional development.
With the implementation of the Plan, a national inland waterway and port system will be established, with high-classed inland waterways navigable to vessels of 1000 tonnages and above, and the main ports as the core. The system will further guide and promote the standardization of vessels and modernization of inland water transport industry. The advantages of inland water transport will be given full play. The inland water transport, together with other means of transport, will form a comprehensive transport system.
Till 2010, the passage capacity of inland waterways will increase by 40% over the current capacity, and the figure will double in 2020. The navigation conditions will be greatly improved, the cost will be dramatically lowered, and the social and economic benefits will be very obvious.
The implementation of the Plan will save a large amount of land. In particular in the areas such as the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta, where land resources are scarce, the establishment of high-classed inland waterways is an effective solution to save land resources, and enhances the capacity of the comprehensive transport system. Besides, it can also improve the ecological environment, reduce energy consumption and emission, prevent soil erosion, and promote the integrated utilization of water resources, and facilitate the implementation of the sustainable strategic development.