China uses almost half the world's steel and about half of the world's cement/concrete. These engineering wonders are just some of the things that have been built with all the material.
1. The Three Gorges Dam — World's Biggest
The Three Gorges Dam is the world's biggest hydroelectric dam. It is the biggest concrete structure in the world too. It cost about 56 billion US dollars to build. The dam's hydroelectric power plants became fully operational in 2012 and can produce 22 gigawatts of power.
The dam is in the Three Gorges region, and the 600-kilometer (380-mile)-long "reservoir" that stretches to Chongqing has become a favorite sailing region for cruise ships. See the huge dam and amazing scenery on a Yangtze cruise.
2. The Shanghai Tower — World's Second Tallest Building
The world's second-tallest building opened in 2015. The Shanghai Tower, at 128 stories or 632 meters (2,073 feet) tall, dwarfs the Shanghai World Financial Center next to it.
To cope with Shanghai's deep, sandy river delta soil and typhoons, the tower has 70-meter (200-feet)-deep concrete piles and a spiraling cylindrical shape. It will be a showcase of 21st century engineering. To save energy, the tower is built like a thermos bottle with an outer skin consisting of two glass facades. Mitsubishi built the world's fastest elevators.
See Shanghai's modern wonders on a Shanghai tour.
3. The World's Grandest Bullet Train System
Another great modern engineering wonder of China is the high-speed train system. There are presently (in 2013) about 13,000 kilometers (8,000 miles) of high-speed train tracks laid. Bullet trains are planned to criss-cross the country and provide cheap, comfortable, and convenient transportation.
The longest line is the 2,230-kilometer (1,390-mile) Beijing–Hong Kong line (the final 106 kilometers from Guangzhou to Hong Kong are to be completed in 2016). The new line is about the distance from London to Russia, or about the distance from New York to Colorado, for comparison.
The trip takes 8 hours, and the price is economical: about 140 USD. The seating is comfortable and simple, like an airline cabin. Let us help you book tickets.
4. Space Travel
In 2012, China was the third country to send people to their own orbiting platform. In 2003, they were the third country to send astronauts into orbit.
In 2012 China launched more rockets into space than the US did. A lunar mission to send an unmanned probe is planned for 2014.
Hong Kong Space Museum is one of the many great family things to do in Hong Kong.
5. Shougang Iron Works Blast Furnace
To supply steel for China, the world's largest blast furnace at Caofeidian, Tangshan, can make 5 million tons of steel a year, worth 12 billion RMB, not even 1% of China's 700-million-ton annual steel consumption.
6. The Qinghai–Tibet Railway
In 2006 the Qinghai-Tibet Railway connected Tibet, China's last province to have a railway, to the national rail network. The highest railway in the world (highest elevation 5,072 meters or 16,640 feet), with the highest station and highest tunnel, is one of the greatest feats in modern Chinese history.
Experience this modern wonder and Tibet for yourself on our Tibet Discovery Train Tour.
7. Empty Cities
It is said that "20 new cities are being built every year in China". Though a lot of the new construction is becoming occupied, many large areas remain largely empty, such as Zhengdong New Area in Zhengzhou (reputedly "China's largest ghost city"), Ordos in Inner Mongolia, and Chenggong, Kunming. Aerial photographs of many new projects show big developments with almost no cars!
For example, the New South China Mall in Dongguan that was built in 2005, was once known as the largest mall in the world, but it is mostly empty. The BIGGEST BUILDING IN THE WORLD, the New Century Global Center in Chengdu, eclipses all other malls, and is faring better, though China's malls are looking at 30% vacancy in 2014. Housing prices are quickly rising in China, but this surely can't continue with such huge overbuild?
Other Modern Chinese Wonders
In Beijing: Beijing International Airport, the Bird's Nest, the Water Cube, the Beijing CCTV Building, the Beijing Great Wheel …
In Shanghai: The Maglev, the Oriental Pearl Tower, the World Financial Center, Port of Shanghai — the world's largest container port, with the world's largest bridge crane …
Elsewhere: Taipei 101, the ICC, Canton Tower, the Hangzhou Bay Bridge, Bailong Elevator …
And so the list goes on and on...