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Canal city to lead heritage protection

Updated : 2020-07-07

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Wuxi section of the Grand Canal [Photo/IC]

More new technologies will be applied in the construction of the Wuxi Grand Canal cultural belt, according to local officials.

The Grand Canal is a vast waterway system in China, running from Beijing in the north to Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in the south. It stretches for nearly 3,200 kilometers and passes through eight provinces and municipalities.

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the canal is the longest and oldest artificial river in the world. It has played an important role in ensuring China's economic prosperity and stability, and is in use today as a major means of transport.

The section of the canal in Wuxi is 20 to 40 meters wide and 40 km long, and connects the Yangtze River in the north with Taihu Lake in the south. It is a main water transport line through the city.

More than 100 small canals have been developed around the main canal in the past 1,000 years, as the city gradually grew from an agricultural production base in ancient China into a modern industrial center.

Although the canal in many of these cities has become a mere showcase, the portion that runs through Wuxi still plays an important role in the city. The close interaction between the canal and Wuxi residents shapes the local culture, lifestyle and economy.

Wuxi started protecting old residential buildings, schools, shops, temples, ports and bridges along the canal from 1992, earlier than many other cities along the river.

Today, the city works to find out the meaning of Grand Canal culture in the contemporary era and how people can better protect it, according to Li Daoguo from Wuxi Grand Canal Cultural Belt Construction Research Institute.

The institute, established in September 2019, will carry out a series of projects covering heritage protection, environmental remediation, water system management, cultural exploration, tourism promotion and cross-regional cooperation to better protect the Wuxi section of the Grand Canal.

Wuxi will also lead the construction of a digital data base of a Grand Canal cultural belt based on the internet of things and big data, said Ying Xiaoping from Jiangnan University.

Ying said she spent her childhood beside the canal, and many Wuxi locals like her may feel homesick when visiting the waterways in the city.

As the canal is still an important transport route, it will continue to shine in the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta region, according to officials.

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