Editor's note

In the run-up to the 19th Communist Party of China National Congress, we would like to highlight a series of key projects and advanced technologies of national importance, showcasing the country's huge improvement and relentless efforts at innovation.

New high-speed train debuts on Beijing-Shanghai route

Two new bullet trains hit the tracks on June 26 on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway.

The line is the nation's busiest high-speed link, carrying on average some 505,000 passenger trips
a day.

At a naming ceremony at a maintenance facility in Beijing's Daxing district on Sunday morning, Lu Dongfu, general manager of China Railway Corp, said the new trains would be called "Rejuvenation".

The word rejuvenation has been widely employed by the central leadership to refer to its goals of achieving the "great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation". Prior

to the new trains, all of the country's bullet trains carried the designation "Harmony".

The new trains were developed mainly based on China's railway standards and technologies and
were designed to be better adapted to China's environment and rail transportation patterns, Lu

They travel at a speed of about 350 kilometers
per hour, though their maximum speed is 400
km/h, according to designers at the China
Academy of Railway Sciences.

High-speed rail network transforms social landscape

Over the last few years, China has demonstrated its competitive edge in high-speed rail technology.

China has built the world's largest high-speed rail network and is home to some 60 percent of the
world's high-speed railway network.

Its bullet trains run in various climates, ranging
from tropical to alpine conditions, as well as across
various geological and geomorphic conditions. And,
in the global context, China-made high-speed trains
sport bargain price-tags.

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Yangtze water refreshes regions in myriad ways

The thirsty eastern and northern regions of China received 10 billion cubic meters of diverted Yangtze River water as of June 9 - enough to fill Hangzhou's West Lake, in Zhejiang province, 700 times.

The South-to-North Water Diversion Project, one of the world's biggest, has also played an outsized role in other ways, like improving the environment and promoting pollution control, according to the project's construction committee.

"The project has brought tremendous benefits to society, the economy and the environment," the committee said in a statement.

The first phase of the central route, which has been channeling water 1,276 kilometers from Danjiangkou Reservoir to Beijing since 2014, has brought more than 2.28 billion cu m in total, helping to support social and economic growth, said Pan Anjun, a spokesman for the Beijing Water Bureau.

"Beijing's water resources have risen from an average 100 cu m per capita to 150 cu m last year," he said.

The diverted water now accounts for 73 percent of the capital's daily water supply and is pumped to 11 million people, according to the committee, which is under the State Council.

Construction on the grand project of delivering water from the Yangtze basin started on the eastern and central routes in 2002. The first phase of the eastern route was completed in 2013, followed by the first phase of the central route in 2014.

The two long diversion channels have delivered 10 billion cu m of water as of June 6, and served over 93 million people in 33 cities in the arid regions of Beijing, Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Henan, Shandong and Jiangsu, the committee said.

70% of Beijing tap water comes from Yangtze

More than 70 percent of the tap water in Beijing's main urban areas comes from the Yangtze River, thanks to a huge water diversion project that was designed to ease water shortages in the north.

Beijing has received 2.28 billion cubic meters of Yangtze water since the south-to-north water diversion project began pumping water into the city in December 2014, Beijing Waterworks Group said in a report Saturday.

It said the project had increased Beijing's water
supply capacity to 3.72 million cubic meters a day, ending the water shortage the capital experienced every every summer.

Before Yangtze water diverted to Beijing, the city's daily supply capacity was 3.2 million cubic meters
at most and water sources, mainly from
underground, were susceptible to calcium and magnesium salts.

At least 11 million people in Beijing have benefited from the water diversion project so far, according to Beijing Waterworks Group.

"Residents in high-rise apartment buildings used to suffer water crunches in summer. On some of the worst days, there was no water for cooking or washing," said Fang Yajun, chief of the water authority in Tongzhou District, east Beijing.

"Their problems will soon be solved, with a new waterworks that will open this summer to supply 200,000 cubic meters of water daily," he said.

The new waterworks in Tongzhou District, the city's "subsidiary administrative center," is fed by Yangtze water and will double Tongzhou's daily supply capacity, said Fang.

Among the 2.28 billion cubic meters of Yangtze water pumped to Beijing since the end of 2014, about 1.58 billion cubic meters has gone to water supply companies. The rest is stored in reservoirs or used as groundwater, river and lake supplies.

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China achieves a quantum jump

China has become the first country in the world to establish photon entanglement at a distance of more than 1,200 kilometers, paving the way for ultrasecure, long-distance quantum communication.

In July, Beijing and Vienna will try to conduct the world's first cross-continental video call using Micius, the world's first quantum communication satellite launched by China last year. It will take more than a decade for such technologies to reach the public, scientists said.

By beaming photons-individual particles of light-between Micius and two receiving ground stations-the Delingha station in Qinghai province and the Lijiang station in Yunnan province, Chinese scientists have shown that these photons could remain entangled despite the stations being more than 1,200 kilometers apart.

This distance is 10 times greater than similar tests done on the ground, which are usually conducted using fiber optics or in open air and are susceptible to interference, according to findings published in Science, an international journal.

"This is the first major scientific discovery of
Micius, and it proves the feasibility of
satellite-based quantum communication," said Pan Jianwei, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the chief scientist of the quantum satellite project.

"It will also provide reliable technological support
for research in other fundamental science fields like relativity and quantum mechanics," he added.

Quantum entanglement is a phenomenon in which two or more entangled particles can affect each other simultaneously regardless of the distance between them.

Spacecraft undocking a success

China's Tianzhou 1 cargo spacecraft has begun a three-month independent flight after detaching from the Tiangong II space laboratory on June 21, according to the China Manned Space Agency.

The undocking sequence started at 9:17 am and
lasted about 30 minutes. Tianzhou 1 now operates
in an orbit nearly 390 kilometers above the
ground, the agency said in a news release.It said
the cargo craft will continue to carry out
experiments and tests in space science and
spaceflight technology during the solo flight. It
will also place a miniature satellite into orbit. At
the end of the independent flight, Tianzhou 1 will
dock with Tiangong II for a third time and conduct

a third in-orbit refueling operation for the space lab, the agency said, noting that the third docking maneuver will be executed with fast autonomous docking systems.

Tianzhou 1, China's first cargo spacecraft and the country's biggest spacecraft built to date, was launched at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province on April 20. It is 10.6 meters long and has a diameter of 3.35 meters. Its maximum
liftoff weight is 13.5 metric tons, enabling it to
carry up to 6.5 tons of supplies, according to the China Academy of Space Technology, the developer.

Tiangong II has been in space since mid-September and carried two Chinese astronauts from mid-October to mid-November. It is now unmanned.

The two spacecraft docked on April 22 and
remained connected for two months, during which time they performed an undocking and redocking
test, two refueling operations and a number of scientific and technological experiments, the agency said.

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In the deep ocean, China stands out

From extracting methane from the bottom of the sea to exploring trenches with submersibles, China is pushing forward technology and research on all fronts to unravel the mysteries of the deep.

Jiaolong, China's manned submersible, took its
final dive in the Yap Trench on June13,
completing the third stage of the country's 38th
oceanic expedition.

The craft reached a depth of 6,681 meters at 10:15
am, carrying three people. It returned to the mother ship-Xiangyanghong 09-at about 5 pm.

The Yap Trench is at the southern tip of the Mariana Trench-the deepest valley in the ocean-about 200 kilometers southwest of Guam. The Mariana's deepest section drops 11 km below the surface; the Yap's deepest is 8.5 km.

Jiaolong has made five dives in each trench since the third stage of the expedition began on May 16.

Missions in these dives include taking photos and videos of sea creatures and geography, as well as collecting samples of seawater, sediment, rocks and deep-sea life to understand the trench's geochemical and biological environment.

Studying the samples can tell scientists about how the trench was formed, said Chen Xinhua, chief scientist for the expedition's third stage. The biological samples also have great research value in fields such as deep-sea biodiversity, ecosystems and biogeography.

The dives also provide an opportunity for comprehensive testing of systems on Jiaolong.

The 38th oceanic expedition, which began on Feb 6, has been the longest and included the most missions yet for Jiaolong. The first of its three stages took place in the Indian Ocean for 59 days; the second was in the South China Sea for 34 days.

China leads the pack

Though still 15 years from commercial use,
so-called combustible ice and its successful
mining in China is seen as a breakthrough
toward a global energy revolution.

Chinese researchers have explored some 210,000
cubic meters of combustible ice trapped in frozen
crystals in the South China Sea in the 30 days
since a test drilling and production operation in
early May. Daily production reached 6,800 cu m.

It will be another energy revolution, led by China following the US shale revolution, reshaping the global energy mix, said Li Jinfa, deputy director of China Geological Survey, which is under the Ministry of Land and Resources.

Reserves of gas hydrate, as combustible ice or flammable ice is known, in the South China Sea are estimated at 80 billion metric tons of oil equivalent, he added.

The ministry said it would formulate policies to encourage participation in the exploration of various types of combustible ice, while aspects including exploration block delineation, granting of licenses for mining, mining registration and development will be given priority to pave a path for commercialization of the frozen fuel.

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Bridge overcomes technical challenges

Builders of the massive Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge-which, when completed, will be the world's longest bridge over water-overcame one of the most complex challenges ever to confront engineers.

The Y-shaped span, which will link the three cities, incorporates the latest engineering technology and design, enabling the structures to withstand a magnitude 8 earthquake, a super typhoon or a strike by a cargo vessel weighing 300,000 metric tons.

Engineers were confronted with complex geological and topographical conditions, taking into account prevailing winds and tidal forces.

From an artificial island near Hong Kong International Airport, the structure runs west to another artificial island off the eastern shore of Macao, a distance of 55 kilometers, 20 times the length of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. The new bridge will also connect to a town being built on a reclaimed land in Macao.

A journey by land, which can take up to four hours, will be shortened to as little as 30 minutes once the bridge is completed, according to official projections.

The bridge, which is expected to be put to use by the end of this year, is actually a series of bridges and tunnels crossing the Pearl River estuary-30 km above water, 7 km of underwater tunnels and a number of artificial islands.

The major section will provide a dual three-lane expressway to handle traffic up to speeds of 100 km/h. The total bridge width is 33.1 meters, with two 14.25-meter tunnels and a vertical clearance of 5.1 meters.

Infographic: Bridging the past and the present

From world's oldest stone arch bridge to the world's longest cross-sea bridge, China has a tradition of building great links.

Beipan River Bridge opens in Southwest China's Guizhou province by the end of last year. The structure, which soars 565 meters above a river, becomes the world's highest bridge.

Now, let's look back at China's long history of building grand bridges through the infographic.

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Array could help solve cosmic puzzle

Observatory being built in Sichuan to discover what makes gamma rays tick.

Imagine an explosion that can release 10 times the energy the sun radiates in its 10-billion-year life. It's called a hypernova, one of the brightest and most powerful stellar events.

Scientists suspect such an explosion would produce a large amount of cosmic rays, highly energetic particles blazing across the universe at close to the speed of light. These cosmic bullets pack so much energy they can cause electronics problems in satellites, planes and other devices on Earth after traveling for billions of years.

First discovered in 1912, cosmic rays continue to baffle scientists as to exactly where and how they are made. But China is spending more than 1.2 billion yuan ($176.53 million) to build the world's largest cosmic ray observatory for gamma ray astronomy to crack this mystery, and possibly to learn how to recreate the high-energy particles on Earth.

The installation is called Large High Altitude Air Shower Observatory-a 136-hectare telescope array spreading across Haizi Mountain in Daocheng county, Sichuan province. It consists of more than 6,300 detectors and 12 telescopes, and is located 4.4 kilometers above sea level, making it one of the highest cosmic ray observatories in the world.

Construction of the roads and basic groundwork around the observatory started last year, and work on the detectors is set to begin this year, said Li Kunpeng, the senior engineer for the project from the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of High Energy Physics. By the end of next year, 25 percent of the observatory will be operational and able to receive data. The entire project is scheduled to be finished by about January 2021.

The observatory will be the world's most sensitive detector of ultrahigh-energy cosmic gamma rays carrying more than 10 trillion electron volts-a
unit of energy-and is able to detect charged
cosmic rays up to 10 quintillion (1 followed by 18
zeros) electron volts. This scale dwarfs the energy
level from the sun's cosmic rays, which is typically
measured in millions and up to billions, said Cao
Zhen, the project's chief scientist.

"Ultrahigh-energy particles could be the remnants and messengers of major cosmic events that could have happened billions of years ago in distant galaxies," he said, adding that they are a million times stronger than the most energetic particle created by the world's most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.

"By studying their origin and how they accelerate, we will have a better understanding of the early days of the universe, and, if possible, we can emulate their acceleration mechanism for research, leading to new discoveries beyond the limits of our current equipment," he said.

Nation launches first space-based X-ray telescope

On June 15 morning, China launched a cutting-edge space telescope, the Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope, which is designed to help scientists better understand the universe, according to project insiders.

The HXMT, jointly developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the China Academy of Space Technology, blasted off at 11 am atop a Long March 4B carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China.

The satellite is the nation's first space-based X-ray observatory. With a weight of nearly 2.5 metric tons, the HXMT will be in operation for at least four years in a low-Earth orbit at an altitude of about 550 kilometers, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, which oversees China's space programs.

The administration said the HXMT carries four scientific devices-three X-ray telescopes and a space environmental detector.

Zhao Jian, a space program official at the administration, said the HXMT will help scientists study the activities of black holes and neutron stars as well as X-ray radiation.

The satellite will also enable engineers to explore ways of using pulsars as benchmarks for a new-generation space navigation technology that they are developing for spacecraft, according to Zhao.

China has launched three science satellites-the Dark Matter Particle Explorer Satellite, Shijian 10 microgravity experiment satellite and Micius quantum experiment satellite.

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Rising to a tunnel's challenge

When work began on the Dazhushan Tunnel, the plan was to finish it in five years. That was in 2008-and construction crews are still digging.

Unexpected difficulties mean the 14.5-kilometer tunnel, a critical juncture on the Dali-Ruili Railway in Yunnan province, is now scheduled for completion in 2021, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The tunnel runs through six faults in the Hengduan Mountains on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. It would have been beyond imagination to build on the earth fractures 20 years ago, said You Hongsheng, a spokesman for No 4 Company of China Railway First Group Co, which is digging the tunnel.

In August 2009, immediately after the first drilling began at one of the six fault lines, a 20-centimeter crack appeared in the operating face. The crack continued to widen as mudrock gushed out, filling a space 200 meters long and 6 meters high in about five hours.

"We failed to predict the fragility of the fault," said Jiang Dong, a construction manager at the site. "It is just like drilling into a piece of bean curd. The mudrock started to flow into the tunnel as we worked."

Jiang said the problem was later solved by building a wall to stop the mudrock flow and grouting the flow until it became solid. "Then we dug through the solid part to carry on with the project."

An estimated 140 million cubic meters of water have been pumped out of the tunnel over the past nine years of construction work.

In addition to the day-to-day operating challenges, the geologic complexity of the area where the tunnel is located has made working conditions extremely tough for workers.

In most parts of the construction site, it's quite humid, with the temperature in the hole at around 37 C. Workers had to alternate in two-hour shifts to continue through the day.

Some workers have left the project because of the rough working conditions and the extended construction time. Others, however, stayed put and were determined to hold their ground until the tunnel's completion.

When the Dali-Ruili Railway is complete, it will take a train just five minutes to run through the tunnel. Few passengers will know that it took 13 years to build.

Tibet less remote as world's highest road tunnel opens

Builders on November 10, 2016, finished work on the world's highest road tunnel on the Sichuan-Tibet highway.

The tunnel passes through the main peak of Chola Mountain which is 6,168 m above sea level, shortening the time from Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, to Nagqu in Tibet by two hours, and avoiding the most dangerous section on the highway.

The tunnel, with two lanes in each direction, has been under construction since 2012. It will open to traffic in 2017.

The current 40-km precipitous mountain highway in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Garze takes over two hours to traverse, with dangers from avalanches and rockfalls not to mention the extreme cold and low oxygen level.

Built at a cost of 1.15 billion yuan ($170 million), the 7-km tunnel only takes ten minutes to go through.

The highway will be able to accommodate 4,000 to 5,000 vehicles a day, as compared with around 1,500 before.

"It has been the most difficult tunnel that China Railway ever built," said Yao Zhijun, chief engineer of the project.

Built in 1951, Sichuan-Tibet Highway was China's first highway in Tibet. There are now two more major highways--the Qinghai-Tibet highway and Xinjiang-Tibet highway.

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Published: July, 2017

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