China's Grand Canal Longer than Believed

A noted Chinese historian and geographer recently challenged the generally held belief that the terminal point of the country's north-south Grand Canal is in Hangzhou, saying that it should be longer.

The Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal should start from Beijing and end at Ningbo city, instead of Hangzhou, said Prof. Chen Qiaoyi with prestigious Zhejiang University, at a recent symposium on tourism development held in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province.

Chen offered three reasons to back up his view, the first of which was that the canal was built section by section in different parts of China before it was linked together, with each section getting its own name.

Since, for instance, the section in Beijing is called the Northern Canal, while the section in northern Jiangsu province is named the Middle Canal, Chen said, and the total canal should of course comprise the Eastern Zhejiang Canal.

Secondly, the Eastern Zhejiang Canal has long been connected with the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. As early as the Song Dynasty (960-1279), businessmen from Korea and Japan traveled by sea to Ningbo, and then on to Hangzhou and northern Chinese cities via the Eastern Zhejiang Canal.

Thirdly, the canal is officially translated into the Grand Canal, which is similar to the translation of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal.

On this basis, Chen acknowledged that the Eastern Zhejiang Canal should be included as part of the grand canal with Ningbo as the southern end point of the canal.

The 1,794-km-long Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is the oldest and longest man-made waterway in the world. It stands together with the Great Wall as a magnificent and wondrous attainment of ancient China, linking the north and south by the waterway.

(Xinhua News Agency April 18, 2003) Canals