China making water tunnels 7 times longer than world’s longest to irrigate the desert

China’s longest tunnel is the eight-year-old 85km Dahuofang water project in Liaoning province, while the world’s longest tunnel is the 137km main water supply pipe beneath the city of New York.

Chinese engineers are testing techniques that could be used to build a 1,000km tunnel – the world’s longest – to carry water from Tibet to Xinjiang, experts involved in the project say.

The researchers estimated the tunnel would be able to carry 10 billion to 15 billion tonnes of water from the Yarlung Tsangpo River to the Taklimakan Desert each year. That’s about a quarter of the annual flow of the Yellow River, the second longest river in China and the cradle of Chinese civilization.

Each kilometer of tunnel would cost at least one billion yuan due to the difficult terrain and taxing altitude of the Tibetan Plateau. The $1 trillion yuan cost would be about USD150 billion.

The water shortage in Xinjiang was in many ways similar to that in California early in the 20th century. The Central Valley Project, devised in 1933, diverted water from northern California to the San Joaquin Valley, turning it into the world’s most productive agricultural region.

The proposed tunnel, which would drop down from the world’s highest plateau in multiple sections connected by waterfalls, would “turn Xinjiang into California”, one geotechnical engineer said.

The Chinese government started building a tunnel in the centre of Yunnan province in August that will be more than 600km long, local media reported. Comprising more than 60 sections, each wide enough to accommodate two high-speed trains, it will pass through mountains several thousand meters above sea level in an area plagued by unstable geological conditions.

The Tibetan Plateau stops the rain-laden Indian Ocean monsoon from reaching Xinjiang, with the Gobi Desert in the north and the Taklimakan Desert in the south leaving more than 90 per cent of the region unsuitable for human settlement.

However, the Taklimakan sits right at the foot of the Tibetan Plateau, which is known as the water tower of Asia. The more than 400 billion tonnes of water it releases each year – almost enough to fill Lake Erie in the United States – also feeds the source of other major rivers, including the Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong (known in China as the Lancang) and the Ganges.

The Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau in southwest China is, like the Tibetan Plateau, an earthquake-prone zone with many active faults.
Huge hidden ocean under Xinjiang’s Tarim basin larger than all Great Lakes combined.

“Fault zones are our biggest headache,” Zhang said. “If we can secure a solution, it will help us get rid of the main engineering obstacles to getting water from Tibet to Xinjiang.”

The solution they came up with was inspired by subway trains, whose carriages are connected by elastic joints. In the tunnel, Zhang said, flexible materials that were also waterproof and strong would be used to bind concrete pipes together when they passed through fault zones.
The Yunnan tunnel and support facilities will take eight years to build at an estimated cost of 78 billion yuan (US$11.7 billion). It will carry more than three billion tonnes of water each year from northwestern Yunnan to the province’s dry centre and directly benefit more than 11 million people, according to the provincial government.

44 thoughts on “China making water tunnels 7 times longer than world’s longest to irrigate the desert”

  1. Oh is that why china is trying to turn the tibrtan plateu into a giant water catchment area with artificial rain cloud seeding?

  2. All this talk of war and fighting over water sounds good to me. Let the two most populous countries bleed each other; more for us over here in North America.

  3. If the predatory Chinese want to bring drought and starvation to others while bragging about it, then let’s see how they like having it revisited upon them

    If China wants war, they’ll get it. Better for both sides to die, then for just one side to do so meekly while the other smiles sublimely.

      • To be Chinese is to be sublimely ignorant of others. China’s autocratic leadership are picking fights with the outside world, even as they strive to settle internal fights with each other.

        Xi is trying to crown himself as another Mao, and like Mao, is desperately resorting to more stuntsmanship to save himself from the consequences of past stunts. He thinks he can just toss other countries around like they’re nothing, as he jockeys to make himself the new emperor of China.

        • Stop being a hypocrite. India has been threatening Pakistan with dams they bragged about in YouTube. China’s merely giving you a taste of your own medicine and a little persuasion not to hold others to ransom.

          • Rubbish – stop babbling about topics you know nothing about. India is a signatory to the Indus Waters Treaty, and China is not the guarantor of that arrangement. India abides by that treaty, which is supervised by an independent tribunal, which is none of China’s business. You talk like an imperialist – bringing up India-Pakistan bilateral issues which are none of your concern. “Peaceful rise of China” – my foot – you are the only ones who call it peaceful. I notice you backed down from your Doklam “persuasion” after your hollow PLA windbags loudly boasted that PLA is more immovable than a mountain. Looks like your hollow PLA is a hollow mountain. If you want someone to fight with you as hard as they can, then putting your hands around their throat is a quick way to achieve that. If you want war, then cutting off someone’s water supply is a quick way to get war as per your desire. Then you can happily move from the age of the One Child Family to the One Coffin Family. Then Brian can eagerly post about sexagenarian parents in China obtaining in-vitro fertilization to help them start over again.

            • sanman, India is a warmonger like its master, the British. Since its existence it have waging reckless wars against neighbours, annexing neighbours like GAO, and Sikkim, and invading neighbours’ land like Tibet South, Kashmir, etc. Indian rattles their nuclear saber relentlessly in every shadow they see. India is a threat to the peace of Asia, Indian always sees serving the White as their honor and duty.

            • It’s good you still remember the Indus water agreement. Many Indians are threatening Pakistan by questioning it.
              Pakistan is a great friend of China and the water comes from Chinese sources. If Pakistan wishes us to act if India cut off the water, China will be happy to oblige.

      • The monsoons in south Asia hit slapbang into the Himalayas ranges. It brought massive floods to Bangladesh and surrounding regions. Year after year, awfully large lost of lifes and properties.
        Chinese are doing them a favour, controlling the flow by diverting the water in wet season. In dry season, stored water will be used.
        It’s a neat weapon in times of war, that cannot be denied.

    • Explain to me why China should care about your India when the rain / snow fall on Chinese territory and it is diverting the water resources within its own land? Does India share its water sources with China?
      Should China share its crude oil underground with India too??

      • Tibet doesn’t belong to you – India and Tibet are historically neighbors sharing cultural affinity, not India and China. Explain to me why Tibetans should give up everything of theirs to greedy Han who take everything and give nothing back. Oh, because you have some imagined claim to it, just like your imagined claim to seas that don’t belong to you either? Nobody cares for your conceited babbling. If you create conditions for war, then there will be war – and nobody will be asking for your exalted permission on that, arrogant Han. Then wumao like you will have to explain to all your 1-child families why their only child has come back to them in a coffin. Water is existential for us – no nation can survive without water – so if you think that Indians will just quietly dry up and die for your convenience, then you’re in for a very big shock and a very rude awakening.

        • sanman, Tibetans are over-generous with their gratitude to their Indian hosts and are hesitant in reminding India of a small inconvenient truth: until 1951, the disputed border regions, Arurachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, were neither Chinese nor Indian but Tibetan. Dalai Lama should ask Indian to give those historical Tibetan lands back and re-establish his theocratic serf kingdom again on those historical Tibetan lands.

          • Joe Wong – Tibet nor Sinkiang belongs to China. Look what you people have done to the people there. You all go out of Tibet and we will give the Dalai Lama what he wants.

            • The people in NE of India, looks more Chinese than Indian. Actually, they are Tibetans in language and culture. That it is occupied by India is legacy of British Imperialism. Why don’t you give that land to Dalai Lama since you are so concerned? Why forced Dalai Lama denounce the south Tibet which he claimed before?
              Tibet and Xinqiang are poor desolate regions before. Now the income per capita there is three times and more India’s. And lots more investments are going there. China has huge ambitions for the region. That’s why the river is corrected, not diverted ( it took an almost 180degree turn) so as to turn two large deserts green.

              • My own mother’s family comes from Northeast India (Assam), and yes, she is yellow-skinned like you, and has slitty eyes. I was somewhat lighter and yellow-skinned when I was little, but my skin became more brown as I got older. So I looked more like my mother when I was small, but as an adult I look very different. Northeastern India is getting more brown-skinned because of all the illegal migration by Bangladeshis. Dalai Lama is given sanctuary in India, and is revered by all Indians. Tibetan scholars are custodians of knowledge from ancient India, and some of the foremost experts in the ancient language of Sanskrit are Tibetan.

                • @sanman Throwing racial insults? The only thing you dark hairy apes are known for is losing wars and eating out of the white man’s ass when they have scrapes to feed you. Funny you’re trying to talk from some sort of moral high ground as if you didn’t know your “dear” country wasn’t the rape capital of the world. Sleep well tonight knowing your people are the proverbial dogs of the white man -LuL

          • I’ve heard this argument from plenty of wumao like you. Given that we’re not their occupiers, Tibetans are on our side, not yours. Likewise, even Uighurs will side with us over you or Pakistan, because again we’re not their occupiers snuffing out their culture to replace it with Han tyranny.

        • lol… but..but your very own Indian government recognise Tibet as part of China. Your ignorant remark doesn’t count. There wasn’t even a country called India before the British. Your claim of historically neighbors is a fault. So you have no reason on why China should share its water resources with you then.
          War?? based on your silly reasoning? well, bring it on. You can’t even manufacture a decent rifle for your soldiers. Using third rated multi-national weapons will only get your butt kicked badly again just like last time.
          Btw, how is your Modinomics doing? Didn’t you say the Indian economic slower growth was for one quarter only? Why is it down to 5.7% now?

          • Nehru was pro-China, but his legacy is fading. The resources of Tibet aren’t merely for greedy Hans to plunder. India and Tibet have natural historic ties. I wouldn’t gloat too much about economics, if I were you, given your bubble economy’s fragility.
            Your country is headed for the nursing home, given your foolish unnatural demographic policies, which were designed by predatory rulers who were mainly focused on avoiding rebellion and uprising by the young. India is going through reforms which will continue to improve its outlook. Criticisms on growth are mainly coming from the political opposition parties, because election season is starting – it’s in their interest to complain.

            • Yeah, China is collapsing and India is the superpower that will wage war if its neighbor doesn’t share its resource. Happy? lol..

        • No country can survive without water. That’s true. I give you that. But India has more water sources than most countries in the world. If your incompetent government can’t manage it properly, like storing the excess water during monsoon reasons or reduce your overpopulation problem, an area that is 1/3rd of China but with the same population, then it is nobody but your own fault.
          Learn from Israel where there is real water shortage problem. With your biggest “Democracy”, yep, you should have the most competent government to handle these problems, unless this system you have is actually hindering your development.

          • India’s water mostly comes from the Himalayas, including Tibet. I don’t think you know anything about the Monsoon or water storage, otherwise you wouldn’t be making such ignorant comments about them. You really talk like an ignorant wumao. China has lots of land it has seized and occupied like Tibet, because of Nehru’s cowardice. Now that Nehruvianism is receding into the dustbin of history, such cowardly policies will be disappearing with it. Given that there are far more farmers in agrarian India than in China, tampering with their water supply is the quickest way to get Indians up in arms.

            • Only incompetent government doesn’t know how to store excess resources for future needs. And the ignorant citizens keep electing these incompetent clowns.
              If the middle east countries can manage their very limited water source, India should have no problem when the water source fall from the sky.

            • Btw, what are you waiting for? Why is it taking so long that Nehru had been long …. long.. gone? What is stopping your superpower government to recognize Tibet as an independent country and not part of China?? any time frame?

    • sanman, “India” is a western imperialist creation to enslave the Asians against the will of the indigenous people of South Asia, it is illegitimate alien and harmful to the Asians. The current “India” is an extension of its former colonial master, British imperialist, spreading their toxic divide-and-conquer discord among the Asians. Unless this fascist regressive caste system Hindutva get destroyed this toxic cancer will destroy all humanity with its regressive, inhuman and barbaric caste system.

      Half of the “India” is in armed struggles against this fascist regressive caste system Hindutva regime in New Delhi; it is time to support those freedom fighters to shake off the inhuman caste system yoke impose on them by the Hindutva.

      • Indians I know will tell you that India was united by an Indigenous King before the British hundreds of years before the arrived.

      • “Caste system” – as if you insular Han know anything about Indian culture, other than what you’ve read from British books – more proof that India and Han China have never been neighbors for thousands of years. “Caste” is an english word coined during British rule as a mirror image of the ruling British culture and its proudly feudal heritage. India being a polyglot has no single language, no single religion, and so obviously wouldn’t have any single overarching system of any kind. All India has are various tribe-like ethnicities and socio-economic groups, like any other part of the world. However, British withdrawal was immediately followed by the sudden rise of marxism and class warfare, which quickly took up the “caste” phrase coined in the preceding British raj era, and used it as a cudgel for class warfare politics. “Caste” is a phrase most harped on by socialist class warriors and preserved by them for their political needs, as a scapegoat for economic stagnation and decay produced by the same socialism championed by them. Meanwhile, China has absorbed Indian cultural influences like Buddhism, even while trying to control it through the police state. All Chinese exist at the pleasure of the state, while at least Indians have the right to democratic franchise. Our problems at least get exposed through our free press, while yours in China get swept under the rug – like your bubble economy. No wonder Xi is so desperate to embark on foreign stuntsmanship, because he knows that if the bubble collapses, he’ll be swinging from the lamp-post. I wonder how many of you wumao will be swinging along with him?

        • The same international laws which declare India and China have a right to exist – which ones declare that? Oh, there are none? Well, it appears we have an answer to both questions then.

          • Indians pollute water irresponsibly, they dump toxic industrial waste in rivers, they dump raw sewage in rivers, they dump human remains in rivers, … Fresh water is precious, it should not be wasted by people who do not treasure this treasure from mother earth.

  4. Alright … so if the water is being diverted to Xinjiang, where is it being diverted from? Aren’t the Yellow and Yangtze water resources already fully utilized? If they try to divert water that would otherwise end up in the Ganges they’ll have a war with India.

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