The New Panama: A Chinese Businessman's $40 Billion Plan To Dig A Canal Through Nicaragua Is Actually Going To Happen

Wang Jing (C), HKND Group chairman, arrives for a news conference in Beijing, June 25, 2013. REUTERS/Jason LeeWang Jing, a Chinese telecommunications billionaire, has the rights to build a canal through Nicaragua.

Work will start next month on a $40 billion canal connecting the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean across Nicaragua.

The project will realise a dream of Chinese businessman Wang Jing, and has attracted little else but scepticism and criticism since it began making headlines late in 2013.

But in July this year, a Nicaraguan committee of government officials, businessmen, and academics approved a 276km route from the mouth of the Brito river on the Pacific side to the Punto Gorda river on the Caribbean.

Even then, there was talk the canal was unlikely to meet environmental obligations, given the proposed route saw it bisecting Lake Nicaragua, Central America’s largest lake and an important freshwater source for the country.

But yesterday, officials said studies have determined it will have minimal impact on the environment and society, and construction will begin on December 22.

China’s HKND Group will build the canal, which will be three times longer than the Panama Canal. And some 105km of it will indeed pass through Lake Nicaragua.

“We are ready to begin,” HKND official Zhu Xiaoya said.

HKND hopes to see shipping through the canal in 2020.

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