A month ago, a Nicaraguan committee approved Chinese billionaire Wang Jing's project to create The Nicaraguan Canal. With a planned capacity to accommodate ships with loaded displacement of 400,000 tons (notably bigger than The Panama Canal), the proposed 278-kilometer-long canal that will run across the Nicaragua isthmus would probably change the landscape of the world's maritime trade.
"The project is the largest infrastructure project ever in the history of man in terms of engineering difficulty, investment scale, workload and its global impact," Wang told reporters, adding that with regard the project's financing, which is around $50 billion, Wang seems quite confident, "If you can deliver, you will find all the world's money at your disposal."
Worried about conservation? Don't be: "We have 100-year concession rights, we will be responsible to ourselves, and we are there to build, not to destroy," explained Wang.
In the mountains and rivers of Central America, work on one of the world's largest infrastructure projects is progressing as planned, driven by Chinese billionaire Wang Jing.
The Nicaragua Canal, which is about four times the length of the Panama Canal, will connect the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean upon its completion. The project is estimated to cost $50 billion.
"Our canal lock is 15-meter-thick, hard steel. Imagine its size. [It'll be] the world's largest," the 41-year-old Wang said.
The Nicaragua Canal project is just one of many giant infrastructure projects commenced by Chinese around the world.
There are at least another five megaprojects that are currently being planned or under construction, including the $32 billion China-Pakistan economic corridor and the $1.7 billion Baltic Pearl Project, according to media reports.
Wang's company secured a 50-year concession for the canal and an extension right of another 50 years.
Panama Canal competitor?
Wang said the Nicaragua Canal will be able to accommodate ships with a displacement of 400,000 tons.
Wang dismissed speculation that the canal he is building would become a competitor to the Panama Canal.
"The Panama Canal won't fit my clients' ships. After expansion, they can only accommodate ships up to 150,000 tons. But our canal offers an alternative route for those sailing across the Panama Canal," he said.
"The world's leading shipbuilders have already commenced research projects to design and build ships especially for the Nicaragua Canal," Wang said.
Analysts said that currently ships with a displacement of 400,000 tons mainly carry crude and bulk cargo such as minerals, coal, and grains, but as trade develops, larger ships could be a trend.
Financing the $50 billion?
"If you can deliver, you will find all the world's money at your disposal," Wang said, adding that he will raise the money through combined measures of cross-shareholding, bank lending and debt issuance.
Wang estimates that his company could collect several billion US dollars worth of tolls on an annual basis, but he urged investors not to lose sight of the bigger picture.
"The canal would bring huge benefits to the world's seaborne trade. It will make large-scale, low-cost, high-efficiency trade possible, unlocking trade demand between the East and the West," Wang said.
"The continuously growing Chinese economy and a rising Latin America underpin a growing global maritime transport volume," Zhang Yongfeng, a Shanghai-based shipping expert, told the Global Times Monday.
For the locals at Nicaragua, a key concern has been the man-made canal's environmental impact, particularly on the Nicaragua Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Central America.
"We have 100-year concession rights, we will be responsible to ourselves, and we are there to build, not to destroy," Wang said.
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Time to print some more Yuan...
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Wang concludes... when asked "Does digging a canal in the "backyard of the US" not bug you?"
"No - Free, prosperous maritime trade benefits everybody, including the US"