Fri, Jan 14, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Ministry laughs at Strait tunnel

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Dismissing China's Minister of Communications Zhang Chun-xian's (張春賢) proposal that a highway be built between Beijing and Taipei by 2030, the Cabinet yesterday urged Beijing to do something "practical" instead of just issuing propaganda.

"Before technicians are able to overcome the technical difficulties and potential hazards of construction [for the project], the proposal is simply impractical," Cabinet Spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said.

"If the Chinese government really wants to contribute and do something good for the relationship between Beijing and Taipei, we hope it will be something more practical than this," he said.

Zhang announced yesterday that China will construct seven highways around Beijing as well as nine north-south and 18 east-west highways right across the country.

The highway network will be nicknamed "7918 net" based on this distribution of carriageways. The highway to Taipei is also connected to the "7918 net."

"The idea behind building the highway network as well as a highway to Taipei is to increase the communication, in terms of traffic and the economy, within the country," Zhang said.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications responded to the grand plan with a "no comment" yesterday.

When first asked whether the ministry would comment on the plan, Vice Minister Tsai Duei (蔡堆) burst into laughter.

"I read it in the evening newspaper. But I can't comment on anything at the moment because I really doubt the reliability of the story," Tsai said.

If the highway is built, technicians will face the challenge of building a tunnel between Taiwan and Fujian 130km in length.

Currently, the longest underwater tunnel in the world is the Aomori Hakodate Tunnel in Japan, which is almost 54km in length.

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