China – a country in desperate need of massive megaprojects to support its unprecedented growth of population. A country that has built highways, dams, and bridges like no other before. Today, we’ll explore China’s biggest megaprojects that have reshaped the country. Number 4: the Beipanjiang Bridge …which is the highest bridge in the world.
It crosses over the Beipanjiang Grand Valley, and its highest drop is 565 meters, whereas The Golden Gate in San Francisco doesn’t even reach above 67 meters. To give you an idea of its incredible height, you could fit the entire New York One World Trade Center below this bridge. The Beipangjiang Bridge connects the mountainous provinces of Xuanwei in Yunnan to Shuicheng in Guizhou and turned what was previously a four-hour journey into less than one. As well as its convenience, the scenic views from the bridge are simply breathtaking. It’s so high up that the road is sometimes surrounded by clouds and mist. Guizhou Province is a highly mountainous area, so it needs huge connecting bridges such as the Beipanjiang Bride. Three of the world’s five highest bridges are in this province, and all five of them are in China. But building up on a mountainside has its problems. Architects kept having to move the final location of the bridge higher and higher to avoid caves and cracking in the karst mountains on either side of the valley. We should clarify that Beipanjiang Bridge is the highest in the world, but not the tallest. That prize goes to the Millau Viaduct, France, which is 343 meters high. The difference is that the tallest bridge is the bridge with the highest structure, but the highest bridge is ranked by its deck height. But as well as building bridges over rivers and mountains, China is also constructing massive underwater tunnels. But before we show you this next project, make sure to subscribe to Top Luxury! Currently, only 3% of our viewers are subscribed. Help us to get this number to 5% and subscribe to Top Luxury! Number 3: China’s Underwater Tunnel Lake Taihu is China’s third-largest freshwater lake and a popular tourist attraction. Rather than building a bridge and spoiling the scenery, China decided to tunnel underneath. With a length of almost 11 kilometers, it is now one of the longest highway tunnels in the world. Lake Taihu is situated in eastern China’s Jiangsu Province. The Taihu tunnel connects the motorways of Changzhou, Suzhou, and Wuxi, and was built to greatly ease traffic congestion between Shanghai and Nanjing. While the Beipanjiang Bridge’s main concern was weather conditions, there is no such concern for an underground tunnel. In fact, the biggest danger of this tunnel is that drivers could lose concentration while driving on a straight road for so long. This is why the road contains thousands of LED lights, so drivers will be visually stimulated throughout the entire trip. Underground tunnels can be built in a number of ways. The Channel Tunnel between France and England was built by simply digging below the water bed and constructing everything below the ground. For the Taihu Tunnel, they used cofferdams to empty water across the area in which they wanted to build. This allowed the building area to be separated from the lake and become completely dry. So their building site was simply a dried-up lake bed, and the cars today are basically driving at the bottom of the lake. Ventilation shafts were also built, but are cleverly disguised across the lake. One of the shafts looks like a small island, another looks like a conch-shaped statue, and another is disguised as an ancient boat. Lake Taihu is an important tourist destination so the tunnel was designed to protect its natural beauty. With its 11km length, the Taihu Tunnel is one of the longest road tunnels in the world. First place goes to the Lærdal Tunnel in Norway. However, China is currently considering breaking that record and proposed a 90km long railway tunnel between Yantai and Dalian that would dwarf the current record. This is all part of China’s quiet revolution in high-speed rail, which brings us to our next topic. Number 2: China’s Massive High-Speed Rail Network In October 2010, China broke the record for the world’s fastest bullet train.
In under 45 minutes, this train travels 200 kilometers between Hangzhou and Shanghai. Two years later in 2012, China opened the longest high-speed railway line, stretching from Beijing and Guangzhou. This cut a 24-hour train journey into one-third of the time at eight hours. China has been undertaking a quiet revolution in high-speed rail. The country has completed 38,000 kilometers of rail since 2008. To put this into perspective, it takes 40,000 kilometers to circumnavigate the entire globe. Railways are an integral part of a modern economy and a symbol of economic prosperity. China wants to connect itself across every corner and has built tracks in extreme climates ranging from the Gobi Desert to the Ice City of Harbin. Railways lines are even ready for cities that have not been built yet. The Xiong’an New Area is a city expected to be developed in 2035, but is already accessible through the Beijing-Xiong’an intercity railway. This is a similar strategy to European colonizers in North America who built railway lines for towns and cities they intended to build later. Today, they are still trying to push the envelope. In January 2022, the Fuxing bullet train carried its passengers without the aid of a driver. It was the world’s first-ever driverless bullet train. However, China’s railway revolution is not without its competitors. Their record of the fastest-ever bullet train has been broken by Japan, which can travel at 602 km/h. But in terms of the size and scale of its high-speed rail, China is very much in a league of its own. While China has been fastly developing its roads and railways, there has also been a far more ambitious infrastructure project undertaken. Bit by bit, China has been gradually entering the space race, often equalling and in some cases, overtaking the milestones reached by The USA and Russia. Which brings us to our final megaproject. Number 1: The Biggest Radio Telescope in the World In 1994, one of China’s greatest-ever astronomers, Nan Rendong, had a vision.
He wanted China to have its own radio telescope like the US’ Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico. Back then, the biggest telescopes available in China were just 25 meter big. But Rendong wanted something bigger – 20 times bigger. Rendong and his crew spent 10 years looking for a suitable spot in South West China to build a new radio telescope. They eventually came across the Dawodang depression in Pingtang, where it is situated today. This was a bowl-shaped valley that could hold the telescope’s weight and allow groundwater to drain from its site. The radiotelescope was finally constructed in 2016, more than 20 years after its initial design proposal. It is now the world’s biggest telescope with a 500 meter diameter and contains over 4000 aluminum panels, which can all individually be moved to focus on radio waves in space. The mountainous area was chosen because there are no towns nearby and is a relatively remote area. Nonetheless, the project was not without controversy. Villagers living near the area had to be compensated with either cash or housing. Ironically, the budget for this relocation was roughly $230 million, and cost more than the actual telescope itself. Currently, the telescope is being used to investigate Fast Radio Bursts. These are mysterious flashes that appear within milliseconds yet produce more energy than the sun does within a year. And China wants to know what they are. In 2017, the telescope made its first discovery of tho pulsars. Since then, over 660 of these have been detected. A cluster of powerful computers, which receives 38 billion samples every second from the telescope, produces incredibly detailed maps of the incoming radio signals. Some experts believe that these signals could be evidence of advanced alien life. Sadly, Nan Rendong was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2016. Despite this debilitating illness, he flew 2000 kilometers from Beijing down to Guizhou in September of that year, and got to see 22 years of work and research finally in action. A year later, he passed away. But his legacy will certainly live on through this amazing telescope. Thank you so much for watching.
If there are any other megaprojects in China or elsewhere that you would like us to cover, let us know in the comments below. If you want to see more about similar projects