The Grand Canal is Facing Death

PureInsight | April 22, 2007

[] With
pollution in China getting more severe, Chinese culture is being
damaged. The BBC quoted from an official Chinese report that the Grand
Canal north of Jining in Shandong province was almost dry and the river
bed was seriously polluted. Transportation is quite active in the
southern part of the canal, but construction damage is also causing
serious problems.  

The Grand Canal is known for being one of the earliest and largest
excavations, as well as for being the longest canal in the world. 
Excavation was started during the Spring-Autumn period that was 2400
years ago and the canal was later extended to a length of 1,794
kilometers from southern to northern China, connecting the Hai, Yellow,
Huai, Yangtze, and Qiantang rivers, passing by eighteen medium-to-large
cities in eight provinces.

There is much history associated with the excavation of and
transportation on the Grand Canal. It is closely connected to many
historic events and developments. For more than one thousand years, the
Grand Canal has been the main artery of transportation in China.

Research on the ancient canal during the Ming and Qing dynasties
describes the canal as having old piers, temples, bridges, streets,
shops, plants and prosperous markets, exactly as shown in the 'Qingming
Shanghe Tu' (The Outing on the Bian River at the Qingming Festival).
The markets and economy were highly developed along the canal's sides
during both the Ming and Qing dynasties.

However, the source behind the BBC report says that local styles and
features have been continuously changing as the cities develop, and
original local culture such as operas and other customs are
disappearing too.

The Grand Canal is now facing a pessimistic future. The authenticity
and integrity of this historic site's heritage have been partially
lost, the non-material cultural heritage is endangered.

A Chinese official said: "If attention is not paid to these problems,
the whole scenery of this historic and cultural canal will continue to
face deterioration and, perhaps, disappear completely."

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