Shanghai’s Seaward Expansion Environmentally Dangerous – China Youth Daily

A commentary translated by CDT from China Youth Daily:

Shanghai plans to build a new town out of nowhere, well, actually in the sea. This project, situated at the north part of Hangzhou Bay, is expected to house 50,000-80,000 people on 65,000 square kilometers of reclaimed land. In 2006, Shanghai finished a “seashore new town” that took three years and 40 billion yuan to complete, on a 133-square-kilometer area which is five times the size of Macau, nearly half of which was land reclaimed from the sea.

Shanghai is not alone. With the tightening of land reserves in China’s urbanization boom, one city after another along the coast has started their expansion campaigns into the sea. However, experts caution that the consequences of wild sea encroaching may be fatal: serious ecological degradation, disrupted seashore climate and fishing stock, and a deficit in the marine disaster prevention of primitive seashores.

Japan already learned its lesson. In the 1960s and 1970s, the island nation had a severe shortage of land and started a wave of land reclamation into the sea. From 1945 to 1975, Japan reclaimed 118,000 hectares of land, or two Singapores. But the seaward expansion came at a loss of 39,000 hectares of seaside wetland and an increased marine pollution. The sea water lost its self-flushing capacity and there were a lot of red tides. Shrimp and many fish species died out.

China had its own lesson as well. In west Shantou, Guangdong Province, soldiers and students marched into the sea in 1962, reclaiming more than 10 square kilometers of land and turning the land into a military-cultivated farm. Only three years later, a grade 12 typhoon swept through Shantou and stories-high tides rushed over the levee and killed 500 people, taking back the land that had just been created. [Full Text in Chinese]


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