Asian Waters— China’s Busy Bohai Sea Region


                       China’s Bohai Sea Region (NASA)

                          by David Parmer

Viewed from space, the Bohai Sea region could be seen as an emerald dragon penetrating the Asian landmass. And that impression of power and energy is certainly borne out at ground level. The Bohai sea, the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea is said to be one of the busiest seaways in the world. Whatever is happening in North China or will happen in North China is connected with the Bohai Sea.

640px-Seaways_Plan_for_the_Bohai_Sea.svg.png                                  (Map: Wikimedia)

To the north and east of the Bohai Sea is the Sea of Japan, to the south is the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea. The sea (and until recently often referred to as a “bay”) has its opening through the Bohai Strait which runs between the Liaoning peninsula on the north and the Shandong peninsula on the south.  The Bohai Sea is the ocean outlet for North China and West China, and is the commercial hub known as the Bohai Sea Economic Zone, which could be thought of as stretching west, past Beijing all the way to Inner Mongolia and as far north as China goes. The Bohai Sea is bordered by Shandong, Liaoning,  and Hebei provinces and by the municipality of Tianjin. Prominent cities include Tianjin, Tangshan, Yantai and Dalian.



A variety of industries make the Bohai Sea region the powerhouse of North China that it is. These include fisheries, shipbuilding, transportation, hydropower, salt making and oil and gas. Oil fields include Shengli, Suizhong 36-1and Gudao. In addition, several rivers flow into the Bohai Sea including the Yellow ,Hai, Liao and Luan.

Development of the region is not confined land: a plan has been put forward to build the world’s longest (123km) undersea tunnel connecting Dalian on the Liaoning peninsula to Yantai on the Shandong peninsula. This would cut travel time from eight hours to just under one hour. Construction costs and technology are under discussion but all indications suggest that the plan is a go for the not so distant future.

With so much development and constant traffic it is understandable that there are environmental concerns for the Bohai Sea area. Negative impacts that have been cited include pollution in Bohai Bay, loss of wetlands and a decrease in fish catches. These notwithstanding, it looks like the Bohai Sea and its surrounding area will only increase in importance to its region and to the overall Chinese economy.