The south portion of the Grand Canal is still being used for economic and social development around the Yangtze River Delta. (File Photo)
The Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, the largest ancient canal in the world built in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), is still an important waterway for transporting coal from China's north to south.
Ships often caused serious traffic jams on the canal in recent years, and it took some boats several days to pass certain junctions. In the next few years, the central government together with local governments along the canal will invest a huge amount of money to reconstruct the canal and inject new life into it.
The south portion of the canal is still being used for economic and social development around the Yangtze River Delta.
Currently the navigable sector of the Grand Canal is 883 kilometers, stretching from Jining, Shandong Province, to the Sanbao Shiplock in Hangzhou. Where 1000-ton-class ships can pass its Jiangbei (north of the Yangtze River) section, while 500-ton-class ships are navigable in its Jiangnan (south of the Yangtze River) section. The annual handling capacity of harbors in Xuzhou, Wuxi, Suzhou and Hangzhou along the canal has each reached 30 million tons. It is estimated that the total transportation volume of the canal will reach 280 million tons in 2020.
Increasing transportation volume and narrow watercourse have gradually made the canal overloaded. Other factors like weather, hydrology and ship size make the canal easily jammed. The Ministry of Communications has planned to dredge the south portion of the canal in hopes of alleviating the transportation pressures.