Nicaragua canal: Will China build rival to Panama Canal?

Nicaragua canal would require $40 billion and 11 years to complete. Nicaraguan president Ortega hopes to get congress to approve Chinese plan for Nicaragua canal this week.

For centuries, tycoons and adventurers alike have dreamed of building a canal through Nicaragua between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and riding a boom in international trade to new riches. Up until now, however, all comers were forced to admit defeat when faced with the sheer challenge of building a man-made river through dense, hilly jungle.

Canal proponents say the waterway could create 40,000 construction jobs and essentially double the per-capita gross domestic product of Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in Latin America. The government plans to grant the Chinese company a concession for 100 years.

Just as the Panama Canal was a projection of growing U.S. power at the start of the 20th century, the Nicaraguaproject already reflects China‘s influence and financial clout around the world. Another Hong Kong-based company has been operating port facilities on both ends of the Panama Canal.

The Nicaraguan canal’s construction would mark the end of a long push that began at least as far back as the 19th century when U.S. industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt won the right to build the waterway but gave up amid political turmoil.

Just as the Panama Canal was a projection of growing U.S. power at the start of the 20th century, the Nicaragua project already reflects China‘s influence and financial clout around the world. Another Hong Kong-based company has been operating port facilities on both ends of the Panama Canal.

The Nicaraguan canal’s construction would mark the end of a long push that began at least as far back as the 19th century when U.S. industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt won the right to build the waterway but gave up amid political turmoil.

In big ways, the proposed waterway outmatches the challenges of building the Panama Canal, which took 10 years and cost the lives of about 5,600 workers. According to the 2006 project details, Nicaragua’s canal would have to be more than three times longer than Panama’s, which cuts through Central America’s narrowest point.

Full article: Nicaragua canal: Will China build rival to Panama Canal? (Christian Science Monitor)

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