Four-nation road network in gear
A PLAN for a highway network that would link Japan, South Korea, North Korea and China is off the drawing board and underway.
The highway, proposed by Japan and endorsed by the four governments, would be made up of three parts: a tunnel linking Shimonoseki in Japan and Pusan in South Korea, a highway linking Pusan to Dandong in Liaoning province, and a highway from Dandong to Beijing.
The infrastructure is expected to make Liaoning province the centre of the 'Northeast Asian Economic Circle', especially if and when economic sanctions on North Korea are lifted by the United States.
The construction of the tunnel is underway and Japanese engineers are now working out details of the design with Beijing, according to Dandong officials.
The whole project is estimated to cost more than US$20 billion, with China expected to shoulder one-fifth of the expense.
The director of the Dandong Development Zone, Yu Jinghao, said part of the highway linking Beijing and Qinhuangdao had been completed.
Mr Yu, passing through Hong Kong on his way to Japan and South Korea, yesterday said China expected to finish the section within the Chinese border - which was started last year - before 1998.
Meanwhile, freight routes linking Liaoning's main city Shenyang to Japan and South Korea will begin early next year.
'They are originally planned to open on December 20. But the agreement signed by Premier Li Peng during his trip to South Korea has brought it to a national level and therefore it takes more time,' Mr Yu said.
Liaoning has vowed to become the Hong Kong economic centre of the north, he said.
A provincial delegation to South Korea last month secured contracts worth more than $100 million, according to the vice-president of Dandong Commission of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade, Wang Yiming.