隋朝大运河 The Grand Canal
The Grand Canal
China's major rivers, such as the Yellow River and the Yangtze River, all flow from west to east into the ocean. There was long felt a need for a waterway to facilitate transport from north to south and vice versa. Several attempts to build a north-south canal had been made, but had been only partially successful. Finally, the stretches of the canals that had been dug earlier were joined up, and the Grand Canal came into existence.
The work was started by Emperor Yangdi (605-618 AD) of the Sui Dynasty. The Grand Canal took several million workers about six years to complete. Some natural rivers and lakes were also included in the project. The Grand Canal was originally some 2,000 km long, and the width of the water surface was from 30 to 70 m. The canal reached Zhuojun County (in today's Beijing) in the north, and extended to Yuhang (today's Hangzhou) in the south. It was connected with big rivers like the Haihe, the Yellow River, the Huaihe, the Yangtze River and the Qiantang. The canal flows through Hebei, Shandong, Henan, Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. The opening of the Grand Canal played a very important role in promoting the economic and cultural development of the whole country and in maintaining political unity. Emperor Yangdi traveled to the south along the canal, accompanied by a vast fleet of ships some 100 km long.
In the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368 AD), the canal was further dredged and extended to become the main north-south communication waterway.
Today, China is planning to restore the Grand Canal, not only for the convenience of transportation between the north and the south, but also to transfer water from the south to the north to solve the problem of water shortage in the north.