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China eyes world-class utility tunnel system by 2020

China aims to build a world-class utility tunnel network by 2020 to improve urban planning and achieve quality growth, according to the State Council, China's cabinet.

The tunnels will help solve the problems of "road zippers" and "overhead spider webs", according to a guideline issued by the State Council.

Road zippers are ditches that are often dug for repair and installation work, which disrupts traffic and local life. The spider webs are the unsightly power lines and telecommunications cables.

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 detailed ten specific measures to support the project, including setting annual targets and national standards for such construction.

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

In July 2012, the heaviest downpour in six decades hit Beijing and killed 79 people. A driver drowned after being trapped for three hours in his submerged car under a downtown overpass.

The emphasis on underground utility also comes as the government is seeking to step up infrastructure investment to support the economy.

China's economy expanded 7 percent year on year in the second quarter of this year, unchanged from the first quarter, but well below previous double-digit growth due to weaker domestic demand and foreign trade.


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