China to dig new tunnel network to calm angry citizens

China aims to build a world-class utility tunnel network by 2020 to make city life smoother,  promote economic growth and prevent "mockery and anger" among citizens.

The tunnels will help solve the problems of "road zippers" and "overhead spider webs" – meaning ditches dug along roads and dense networks of overhead cables – according to a guideline issued by the State Council, China’s cabinet, Xinhua reported.

Water and heating cables, as well as well as sewerage pipes, and telecommunications and television cables, will all be laid underground.

While improving city life, the projects are expected to help stimulate investment and create new growth momentum, the State Council said.

The guideline specify 10 measures to support the project, including setting annual targets and national standards for tunnel construction.

Xinhua reports that businesses are encouraged to participate in the construction and management of the tunnels, and financial institutions should boost credit support to the projects, according to the guideline.

"Underground infrastructure is the common weakness of Chinese cities despite their fancy and glimmering images from the outside," the Xinhua report said.

"In cases of extreme downpours, many cities are easily flooded that trigger widespread public mockery and anger."

Photograph: Authorities believe Chinese cities need better utility tunnels because they are too vulnerable to floods, such as this one at Shandong in 2013 (Rolfmueller/Wikimedia Commons)

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