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  • A curiosity stream dot com slash real life floor China is on the rise and has been for the last several decades.

  • Economically speaking, Even just half a century ago, in the early 19 seventies, the Chinese GDP per capita was on a par with Molly and Haiti at just over $100 while today it is surpassed countries like Russia and is over $10,000 a 100 fold increase.

  • Further, the economy in total ranks second in the world, behind only the United States in terms of overall nominal GDP.

  • This incredible increase in the Chinese economy has brought about unprecedented levels of prosperity and new economic visions, such as the Belt and Road initiative, which is aimed at investing globally to increase trade and develop a 21st century version of what was the old Silk Road.

  • As part of this economic vision, China has engaged something like 138 countries and 30 international organizations, and provided funding for large infrastructure projects across the world like ports Railways and Mawr.

  • One specific piece of this vision is what is known as the Maritime Silk Road, which covers the sea route from China stretching across the South China Sea over the Indian Ocean towards Africa and on through the Suez Canal, reaching Europe through several main ports on the Mediterranean.

  • Essentially, it's a complimentary initiative to the main portions of the initiative aimed at investing in fostering relationships with other countries while ensuring that Chinese goods can be supplied globally.

  • But if we zoom in on Europe specifically, we can see two ports.

  • The China has focused on more than most the Greek port of Kira's and the Italian port of Trieste.

  • Here, China has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into infrastructure and improvements, hoping to increase capacity and ensure that Chinese goods are able to be delivered all across Europe.

  • But there's just one problem.

  • Although these ports do grant access to Europe, it's still a very long truck or train ride across the continent from them to reach other major cities and towns.

  • Not to mention that trucks and trains are not nearly as efficient as boats, and neither are planes.

  • For that matter of course.

  • If you do wish to continue sailing by ship to reach the rest of Europe, geography does offer you another option, but it does require a slight detour rather than heading straight inland towards the heart of Europe To report like Trieste A, your ships may instead turn east through the Turkish Straits, passing through the Dardanelles and on through the bosphorous before entering the Black Sea.

  • From here, ships can continue sailing up along the coast and into the mouth of the Danube River, which will grant your ships access to much of Europe through cities like Belgrade, Budapest, Vienna and Regensburg.

  • Further, with the completion of the Rhine Danube Canal in the early 19 nineties, ships can move along this route even further than before and reach all the way up to the North Sea of desired with access to Europe's largest port in Rotterdam.

  • But what if you could pass through the Danube and all of the cities and ports alongside it through maybe a more direct route?

  • Well, this is exactly what China, as well as several other countries in the European region, are exploring as a direct route to the Danube from the Mediterranean sea would provide an incredible benefits.

  • It turns out there are actually two paths being considered for this proposed shortcut.

  • Option one would connect the Danube to the Aegean Sea near Greece by using to existing rivers the Morava River, which runs through Serbia, and the Vardar River, which runs through north Macedonia, and on into Greece, by connecting these rivers via canal and widening the river.

  • At some points, there would be a clean path all the way from Thessaloniki on the coast of the Aegean Sea, all the way up to just east of Belgrade on the Danube River.

  • Of course, this option doesn't come without its challenges, as much of the river would be required to be widened and cleaned up.

  • You see today much of the river is quite narrow, which would prevent the passage of many cargo ships.

  • And according to European canal standards, the minimum depth must be at least 4 m, and the total width of the canal must be at least 28 m, meaning that although this route could make use of the existing rivers, there would still be a lot of work to do to allow full on cargo ships to pass through in a similar manner.

  • Option to would be to connect the Danube through to the Adriatic Sea near Venice.

  • This routes, although still being considered, is admittedly a bit tougher to traverse from a geography standpoints, the proposed channel would run up through the northern part of Italy and connect through the Austrian Alps via an 88 kilometer long tunnel that would then pass through Germany up through to near Passel, where access to the Danube would be granted.

  • This route, like the previous one, would be approximately 700 kilometers in length and make use of smaller, existing river stemming from the Austrian Alps.

  • However, being that this route would require an extremely long tunnel 88 kilometers long, it would be incredibly difficult.

  • But it, like the first option, would save a massive amount of time for future cargo ships as opposed to going through the Black Sea route, for example, while considering the first option, the distance from the Aegean Sea to Belgrade via the Black Sea and along the Danube is roughly 1900 kilometers.

  • Compare this to the distance that you would take through the canal, which would be somewhere around 1000 kilometers from the middle of the Aegean Sea to Belgrade.

  • Therefore, ships entering the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal from Asia, like Chinese cargo vessels, would each be saving around 900 kilometers of transportation time to major European ports and cities like Budapest, Vienna and Rotterdam.

  • If this canal existed and on an average sailing speed of 10 kilometers an hour, that would be the difference in nearly eight days of sailing, normally versus just over four days with the canal.

  • Now, of course, you would have to add in some extra time for canal locks and possibly some traffic.

  • But you get the point.

  • It would save a massive amount of time and also be way more efficient, which ultimately will save the Chinese a lot of money.

  • On the average, a European class five bars, with a length of 109 m and a width of 11.4 m can transport about 2000 tons of goods at a time.

  • In order to transport that same amount of goods overland, you'd either need 82 trucks or 42 train cars.

  • Boats and barges are simply more efficient than any land based transportation method.

  • They require significantly less crude operate, take up way less resource is and are much more environmentally friendly, too.

  • And while you might think, why hasn't this been thought of sooner?

  • Well, it actually has.

  • You see, the origins of connecting the Danube to the Mediterranean in this fashion could be traced all the way back to the 18 forties, when the idea was originally discussed in 19 oh seven, the United States actually established an engineering commission to perform a study of the proposed paths that could connect the Danube to the Mediterranean and determine if a canal could be reasonably built.

  • But after a few, let's say, turbulent geopolitical events in the area over the course of the 20th century.

  • Like the Balkan wars of 1912 1913 the first World War, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Second World War, the Cold War, the collapse of Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav wars of the 19 nineties, the project was eventually put aside.

  • The past century has been infamously chaotic for the Balkans, and chaos breeds fear and uncertainty, which are things that outside investors generally don't appreciate.

  • Even today, a project like the canal from the Aegean up to Belgrade would be complicated by numerous modern geopolitical factors.

  • For example, the first option for canal would have to begin in Greece, an EU member state, and run through north Macedonia and Serbia before entering the Danube, both of whom are non EU member states.

  • Serbia's relationship with Kosovo has been the primary factor and them never being able to join the European Union.

  • While historically, both Greece and Bulgaria have blocked north Macedonia from being able to join either, With all of these countries, be capable of working together to build one of Europe's largest canals and further on, How would Turkey feel about all of this?

  • For thousands of years now, the city of Istanbul and previously Constantinople, has been located at one of the most strategic locations on the planet at the entry point between the black and Mediterranean seas, which has given the city and whoever controls it immense power and influence over both regional and world affairs.

  • If the Chinese helped to fund a canal from the Danube to the Aegean, it would effectively give ships moving between the seas or between the Danube in the Mediterranean, an easy way to circumvent the Bosphorous for the first time in human history and radically alter the geopolitical reality of the area forever.

  • It would inevitably diminish the strategic location of Istanbul, and as a consequence, Turkey might not end up being too happy about it.

  • However, as China looks to expand her influence abroad and influence in global geopolitics, we can expect high dollar infrastructure projects like this to happen some way or another at some point in the future.

  • And despite the projects projected $20 billion price tag, it would it be too surprising seeing the thing actually get built anyway sometime in the next few decades.

  • Since the project is both technically feasible with modern technology and certainly economically justifiable from the Chinese and probably European perspectives to it may be the best time since 19 oh seven to look at altering the geography of the Balkans for economic gain.

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China's Insane Plan to Dig a Canal Across the Balkans

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/02/23
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