Man-Chung Tang, Chairman of the Board T.Y. Lin International, USA
IntroductionThe modernization of China began around 1976. In this vastly huge country at that time, China had only a few major bridges. The more well-known ones are, the Qiantangjiang Bridge near Hangzhou Fig. 1, which was built in 1937 (before the World War II); the First Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge, which was completed in 1957; and the First Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, which was completed in 1968. So, in 1976 there were only two major bridges crossing the Yangtze River, which is the longest river in China and divides the country roughly into two halves.
Infrastructure is the backbone of modernization, and bridges are a major element of infrastructure. Consequently, bridge construction took off as modernization and industrialization increased rapidly after 1976. However, most of the new bridges built during the first decade of modernization were relatively moderate spans, such as the 220m span Yellow River Bridge in Jinan; the 260m span Yonghe cable-stayed bridge in Tianjin; and the 170m concrete box girder, the Old Shibanpo Bridge crossing the Yangtze River, in Chongqing.