An astronomic investment to build the inter-oceanic waterway to rival the Panama Canal is back on the discussion table between Nicaragua and China.

The South China Morning Post, on October 29, reported:

A top-level Nicaraguan delegation — headed by the president’s son — traveled to mainland China and Hong Kong last week to discuss what could be the world’s largest waterway project.

The 21 politicians, academics and leading businessmen were hosted by HKND, the Hong Kong-based developer established only last year, which has been tasked by the Nicaraguan government to build a $40-billion canal through the Central American country.

Laureno Facundo Ortega Murillo, the son of Nicaragua’s president Daniel Ortega, led the group, which travelled to Beijing, Wuhan, Xuzhou, and Hong Kong.

In June of this year, President Ortega, signed a deal for the ambitious canal project with Wang Jing (shown), CEO of Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. Ltd. (HKND), a mysterious new Chinese company that claims to be privately owned and independent of the Chinese government.

“I am 100 per cent certain the construction will begin in December 2014 and we will finish in five years in 2019,” Wang was quoted as saying in a July 30 report in London’s Telegraph. However, within a few days of that rosy prediction, the project was engulfed in controversy and uncertainty, as opposition coalesced in Nicaragua over concerns that the project was being rushed through without proper feasibility and environmental studies being completed. The 178-mile route that Wang has announced as the path for the waterway is actually one of six proposed options, each of which has its own engineering, economic, social, and environmental challenges. Nicaraguan opponents — including prominent Sandinistas — were angered that Wang had jumped the gun and announced a specific route as a done deal, causing a political backlash against Leader Ortega, including street demonstrations and denunciations in the national legislature.

“We are in a special moment in China and in Nicaragua,” said delegation member Francisco Telemaco Talavera Siles, president of the National Council of Universities. “We are starting a new historical phase that is going to see closer relations,” he told the South China Morning Post. “This project opens [up] the possibility of closer relations with the government and people of China.”

The dream of a canal through Nicaragua has captured the minds of men for generations and Nicaragua was a top contender to the path that was eventually selected in Panama. How the Nicaraguan canal — if and when it is completed — would impact the competitiveness of the Panama Canal (which is undergoing a multi-billion-dollar expansion and update) is the subject of much debate.

Source: The South China Morning Post News – High-powered Nicaraguan canal delegation quietly visits mainland China