the Grand Canal's Application for the World Cultural Heritage
 
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Section in Anhui Province
2008-7-22 9:35:29ĦĦHits2005

    The digging of Tongji Canal of the Sui-Tang Grand Canal was launched in the 1st year of Daye reign in the Sui dynasty (605 A.D). Water from the Yellow River was first introduced from Banzhu via Xingze to Bianqu Canal which was canalized in the Eastern Han Dynasty, where after it branched off the ancient Bianqu Canal and turned south-eastward when it reached Kaifeng, and then ran all the way through Shangqiu, Yongcheng, Suixi County (Liuzi), Suzhou, Lingbi, Sixian, Ancient Sizhou before it finally converged with Huaihe River after it. It has become an important passage to connect the three water systems of the Yellow River, Huaihe River and Changjiang River. Tongji Canal is 40 paces in width with imperial roads constructed and willow trees planted along the bank called "Sui Dyke" (also called "Bian Dyke"). Tongji Canal had been used by the Sui, Tang, and Song dynasties and was called Bianhe River in the Tang and Song dynasties during which dredging work had been conducted continually. About a dozen years after the Southern Song regime was established it was left to waste due to the frequent warfare, the Yellow River flood, and maintenance neglect and other causes. The total length of Tongji Canal was 650 km with 400 km newly dug watercourse. The capital supply water transportation had continued on it for about 500 years. The remaining section of the Grand Canal in Anhui Province is some 180 km of which over 130 km is within Suzhou City and over 40 km within Suixi County of Huaibei City.

    Tongji Canal runs throughout Suixi County of Huaibei City and Suzhou City from Northwest to Southeast. The sites of the remains have been well preserved. According to archaeological investigation it has been proven that the canal ran into Anhui Province at Suixi County, then traverses Suzhou City all the way through West Erpu Sub-township of Yongqiao District, Urban Area of Suzhou City, Zhuxianzhuang Town of Yongqiao District, Dadian Town of Yongqiao District, continues to flow through Lingbi county throughout Changji Sub-township, Louzhuang Town, Lingxi Sub-township of Lingbi County, the county seat, Lingcheng Town, Yuji Sub-township, and threads through Sixian County via Changgou Town, Sanwan Sub-township, the county seat, Xuhe Sub-township, Caomiao Town, Xiaoliang Sub-township, and finally out to enter Sihong County of Jiangsu Province. The Canal within Yongqiao District and Lingbi County is mostly on the north side of the 303 Provincial Road where the upheaval landscape could still been found. There is still a segment of the ancient waterway which is still in function as an irrigation work. The Suzhou segment of the Grand Canal has been promulgated as a key historic site under Municipal Protection by the people's government of Suzhou city. 

    The section of Grand Canal in Anhui Province is a magnum opus of human creative genius which has duly acknowledged the intelligence and power of the ancient Chinese labor people to change and make use of the nature, providing a unique witness for the great civilization of the Sui, Tang and Song dynasties, the grandeur and majesty of the great Tang prosperity and the economic boom of the Northern Song Dynasty. As an artificial canal, the docks on it and the presumable buildings on the Sui Dyke reflected the technological level of man at that time.

    As for the Section in Anhui Province, the exterior form and designs, the material and substantiality, the usage and functions, tradition, technology and managerial system, as well as the orientation and location of Tongji Canal site are all authentic and creditable. The records on historical books and archives of the past dynasties, the archaeological investigation and the discovery and significant archaeological excavation of cultural relics along the line in recent years have provided more proof for its authenticity. The site of Tongji Canal has its integrity, that is, it has the indispensable factors of the universal value in section (i) (iii) (iv). With a total length of 650 km and a total width of nearly 200 m (including the bank), it is large enough in terms of its scale to fully represent and materialize the characteristics of the value of a cultural heritage. Now it is suffering from the negative effect of the development of modern cities and small town construction campaign. Tongji Canal site is well preserved for the moment as the governments at different levels are aware of the negative effect it is suffering from and are taking measures to actively strengthen the protection of it.


The World Cultural Heritage Joint Bidding Office of the Grand Canal , all rights reserved (2007-2008)
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