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The Taiwan Strait Tunnel Project is an undersea tunnel or bridge proposed primarily by the Chinese government to link Pingtan in China to Hsinchu in northern Taiwan. It forms part of the "7 longitudinal 7 latitudinal" expressway plan proposed in 2004. However, the project has never been considered realistic because of its staggering cost, technical difficulties, dubious economic benefits, and risks to Taiwanese national security. At nearly 150 km, the proposed tunnel would be nearly 3 times the length of the Channel Tunnel across the English Channel. In addition to the cross-strait tunnel, the Chinese government envisions four other tunnels, between Hong Kong-Macao-Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Zhuhai, Dalian-Yantai, Shanghai-Ningbo, and Guangdong-Hainan. The project also includes the construction of bridges in areas that have technical problems with the rock and soil. Construction has begun on the first tunnel in Xiamen, Fujian. The 9 kilometer tunnel of which 6 of the kilometers is under the sea, is expected to be completed in the year 2010. [1]

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Planning

In April 2007, a feasibility seminar was held by traffic association of Fujian Province and Taiwan Chinese road association to discuss the project. The meeting explored structures, technologies and research endeavors for the “passway”. Scholars and experts are still considering many engineering, technical, and construction issues for both sides of the Taiwan Strait.[2] There has been no substantial progress in the cross-strait tunnel project since this seminar.

Socioeconomic impact

While its proponents in Beijing envisage the project as boosting economic ties between Taiwan and China, the Taiwan Strait Tunnel Project is generally thought not to be a financially viable project due to its likely astronomical costs and technical difficulties. Moreover, the tunnel's potential for aggressive military use remains a concern to Taiwan.

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