Water channels running from the upper reaches of the Pearl River to Guangdong Province, Hong Kong and Macao are to be upgraded this year to boost economic cooperation.
Work will be accelerated to improve links in the Pearl River-Xijiang River economic belt and among provinces and regions along the river, according to Li Yongheng, deputy director of the Pearl River Administration of Navigational Affairs.
"Departments are studying how to allow large cargo vessels to reach the river's upper reaches after the water channels are expanded this year," he said on Monday.
"This will help reduce transportation and production costs, and raise efficiency, benefiting economic cooperation and development along the river."
The Pearl River runs through Guangdong, Yunnan, Guizhou, Hainan, Fujian, Jiangxi, Fujian and Hunan provinces as well as the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Hong Kong and Macao.
More than 8 billion yuan (.24 million) was invested in infrastructure construction along the river and its tributaries in 2017. Most of the money was used to build ports and transportation hubs and expand water channels.
Li said this year's investment will be the same, if not higher.
The freight volume on the Pearl River reached 906 million tons in 2017, up 8.7 percent year-on-year. It's the first time it has surpassed 900 million tons, he added.