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China to expand Yangtze transport capacity

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BEIJING, June 11 (Xinhua) -- China will build a multi-tier transport system along the Yangtze River to help boost construction of an economic belt along the waterway, the State Council said on Wednesday.

Better use of the so-called "golden waterway" can boost economic integration between developed and impoverished regions and inject fresh energy into China's economic growth, said a statement released after a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.

The country will dredge the Yangtze and increase the navigation capacity of the Three Gorges Dam, according to the statement.

China will build railways, roads and airports that have connections with ports along the Yangtze River to form a multi-tier transport network. It will improve oil and gas transportation facilities in the waterway.

The State Council said the country is also working on standardized ships adapted for the Yangtze and will encourage the development of energy-saving vessels.

The statement also stressed the significance of environmental protection during construction of the Yangtze River economic belt.

The river runs east to west over 6,300 km and is the world's third largest in terms of length and water volume. The waterway joins less developed inland provinces to prosperous Shanghai.

Official data showed that combined GDP of the 11 provinces and municipalities along the river amounted to 2.6 trillion yuan (415 billion U.S. dollars) last year, 41.2 percent of the national total.

In his report to the annual session of the National People's Congress in March, Li explained how China will exploit the waterway by developing an economic belt along its banks.

Waterway development could balance regional growth and encourage businesses to relocate from crowded coastal areas to less developed inland areas, according to the premier.

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