Guangzhou begins work on its fourth subway line
Guangzhou has broken ground on its fourth subway line and announced that it is going ahead with plans to build three more lines - even as the central government announced it was suspending subway construction lines in 20 cities.
'We are not only speeding up construction of the third and fourth lines but also preparatory work for the fifth, sixth and seventh lines. I believe construction will begin in the not too distant future,' Guangzhou Communist Party secretary and mayor Lin Shusen said.
Mr Lin said the speedy construction of the subway network was essential to Guangzhou's aspiration to become a modern metropolis.
Guangzhou Metro Corp general manager Lu Guanglin, in an interview with Guangzhou Daily, said he had not received notification from the central government to put subway construction on hold.
State media said the new subway, running 11.1 km from Science City to Nansha island in the south, would be completed in 2006.
The subway will serve a new university that is being built on Nansha to meet Guangdong's need for more skilled workers.
The reports did not give costs for the subway, built by Guangzhou Construction Group No 3, but Subway No 1 cost 12.3 billion yuan (HK$11.6 billion).
Mr Lin said the city's investment in its subway network was justified by Guangzhou's economic growth. 'Relying on our ability in terms of capital, planning, design, construction and operation, we have reached a stage of sustainable development,' he said.
Guo Yanhua, the head of the Guangzhou Academy of Social Science's urban and modernisation studies centre, said she believed the timing of the central government's announcement and Guangzhou's subway launch was coincidental. On Monday, the State Development and Planning Commission announced a freeze on metro construction affecting 20 cities.
'Guangzhou has had a detailed plan of its subway development for a long time,' she said, adding she did not think the city government was snubbing the central government.
'The central government has banned subway construction in some cities because they do not have the financial means to construct and operate subways. Guangzhou is a different case,' Ms Guo said, adding Guangzhou's population of 10 million justified the subway plans.
'Subway No 1 was funded by the government. The government will continue to finance subway construction with the help of funds from transfer of land rights and private investment while greater localisation will bring down the cost of subway construction,' Ms Guo said.
Guangdong party secretary Zhang Dejiang has called on Guangzhou to develop itself into a metropolis to serve the region and extend its influence into Southeast Asia.
The city would be helped in meeting this goal by an advanced subway network, Ms Guo said.
Beijing and Shanghai each have two subway lines.