China restarts work on 98% of big infrastructure schemes outside Hubei

China is relying on major infrastructure projects to reduce the economic impact of Covid-19, and has resumed work on almost 90% of them outside Hubei Province, where the disease is thought to have begun.

Officials with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) told a press conference Saturday (21 March) that work had begun again on around 11,000 schemes, including 98% of 533 transportation projects supervised by the NDRC.

They added that 97% of major highways and waterways, 87% of airports and 86% of water conservancy projects had also resumed.

The work has restarted despite problems with labour shortages, transport andsupply chain delays. These issues are being tackled with funding from the government’s central budget and up to $144bn in special-purpose bonds for local governments.

In the meantime, the construction of new infrastructure, such as 5G networks and data centres, will be expedited, they said.

China is planning to invest a record $125bn in rail this year, as the government looks to cushion the impact of slower economic growth and the effects of the coronavirus. This would be 6% more than was spent last year, and 10% more than was originally planned.

Among the projects is a 1,000km-long, super-fast magnetic levitation (maglev) railway in China between Guangzhou and Wuhan.

Image: Work on a 1,000km maglev rail line like this one in Shanghai is due to begin this year Alex Needham/Public domain)

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