China and Russia linked by new bridge

The span of a key new bridge between China and Russia has been completed, with the road link across the Amur River set to open in April 2020.

The two sides were joined on 31 May, according to Xinhua, China’s state news agency.

The new bridge connects the Russian Far East city of Blagoveshchensk with Heihe in northeast China. The two cities face each other across the broad river, which is known in China as the Heilongjiang.

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At present they are linked by ferries in summer and a floating bridge, on the surface of the river, in winter.

Communist China and the Soviet Union – of which Russia was the largest component – established diplomatic ties seven decades ago.

A bridge was first proposed by China and Russia in 1988, but construction did not begin until December 2016.

The bridge is 4,213 feet, over three-quarters of a mile, long. It is a key link between the two nations’ highway systems. Along with the associated new roads, the total cost is around 2.5bn yuan (£285m). Russia is paying 70 per cent.

Because of the extreme winter cold, the steel girders have been made to withstand temperatures of minus 60C.

The news agency said: “As China opens its door wider to the world, the two cities see more vibrant people-to-people exchange and trade ties.”

For travellers to the region, it will open up more possibilities to combine the most interesting areas of Siberia with little-visited northeast China – including the prospect of skiing in the People’s Republic.

In addition, easy access to China could make the region an interesting side-trip from the Trans-Siberian Railway between Moscow and Vladivostok. Blagoveshchensk is on a branch from the main line.

Blagoveshchensk’s airport has just been renamed along with dozens of others, following a presidential decree by Vladimir Putin.

The city’s airport is now named after Nikolai Muravyov, “the count of the Amur River”.

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