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China to spend 200 bln yuan overhauling waterways in next 5 years

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BEIJING, March 23 (Xinhua) -- China will double its investment in waterway construction to 200 billion yuan (30.5 billion U.S. dollars) over the next five years to increase the nation's river transport capacity, a spokesman for the Ministry of Transport (MOT) said Wednesday.

He Jianzhong, the MOT spokesman, told a press conference that the proposed investment will be twice the amount that China spent in river transport construction from the 2005-10 period.

He said the central government will fund 45 billion yuan (6.86 billion U.S. dollars), more than one fifth of the total investment, while the rest will be raised by local governments or through social financing channels.

After the overhaul, the average weight carried by cargo ships traveling on China's waterways will be raised by almost 800 tonnes, an almost 80 percent increase from the end of last year, according to MOT.

In January, the State Council, or China's Cabinet, unveiled guidelines aimed at elevating the country's freight volume to 3 billion tonnes by the end of 2020.

China's rivers handled cargo totaling 1.7 billion tonnes last year, according to MOT.

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