THE GRAND of By Ruby Tsao s the site of the international G20 communication, transportation, trade, economic meeting held on September 4-5, 2016, development, cultural exchange and unification A all eyes were on the of . of China since ancient times. “Heaven above, and Hangzhou below” is BACKGROUND a saying to mean Hangzhou is “heaven on earth” China is located on the eastern part of the to the Chinese. Italian traveler in the Eurasian , west of the , 13th Century marveled at its beauty and riches. stretching 6200 kilometers (3720 miles) from east Hangzhou was one of the seven ancient capitals to west, 5500 kilometers (3300miles) from north of China. Since ancient times, scholars wrote to south. It is one of the largest countries spanning poetry to praise the beauty of the famous West 4 time zones with 9.6 million square kilometers . It is well-known for its and “ land area, a population of 1.381 billion in 22 well” tea. Today, it is the headquarters of the e- provinces, 5 autonomous , 4 direct commerce giant Alibaba. Perhaps less well- controlled of , , known is its connection with China’s Grand and , plus 2 self-governing Canal, the world’s earliest and longest man-made special regions of Kong and , and waterway running from Hangzhou to Beijing. sovereignty claims over . The is another ancient mega-project on the scale of the Great and it’s still in use Its diverse landscapes range from forest today. It runs for 1766 kilometers (1104 miles), a steppes and Gobi and Taklamakan in the distance more than 10 times the length of the Suez arid north to subtropical forests in the moist Canal, and 22 times that of the Canal. It south. Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamir and has played a significant role in the Shan mountain ranges separate China from 14 countries in Central times, people used to and , speak all kinds of , , dialects. Fortunately, , , they all understand the Burma or Myanma, same written language. , , The Grand Canal served , , , to connect and unite the , North country for 1500 . and in Only in the 20th Century descending order of since Sun Yat-sen countries’ sizes—most of established the republic these countries are in 1912, Mandarin has located in areas involved been adopted as the in the “One Belt One , the Road” projects. language taught in schools. Two major —the world’s third Primitive were longest built in the ancient times. and the sixth longest Sections were built in run from different areas and in the different times before the west to densely Dynasty (206 BCE populated eastern to 220 AD). The Sui seaboard. Lanchang Dynasty (589-618) River also originates in linked the sections and Province, but began the major building runs north to south and of the Grand Canal to becomes the connect 6 administration River through the districts: Beijing, Southeast Asian Tianjin, , countries of Myanma, , and Laos, , Provinces to and Vietnam before draining into end in the south at the city of Hangzhou. It linked Sea. China’s coastline along Pacific 5 west to east running rivers —Yellow River, Hai Ocean runs 14500 km (8700 miles) long bounded River and Yangtze River, , Qiantang by Bohai, Yellow, and South China River to facilitate transport of goods, people and Seas. Topography ranges from elevation of over soldiers in war times; exchange of ideas for 8000 meters in the west dropping to the coast in cultural integration, trade for economic the east. With the Yangtze River and Yellow development contributing to a unified China. River and most running from west to HISTORY east, it’s easy to see the benefit to build the Canal As in the ancient legend of the West, running from north to south connecting existing there were also great in China. The rivers to form a vast network of waterways, the legendary Da (the Great Yu) in 2100 BC spent favored mode of transportation in ancient times. 13 years to tame the Great by dredging nine China is a mountainous country making travel rivers and building 2 canals Naiqu and Zhongqu and communication very difficult. In imperial to channel the flood waters to the sea. (Footnote: Two major rivers—the world’s third River, with royal roads along the banks of the canal. He celebrated with great fanfare in a luxury longest Yangtze River and the sixth fleet to travel to . But he over-extended longest Yellow River run from Tibetan the country’s resources. Plateau in the west to densely Some 6 million were drafted for populated eastern seaboard. Lanchang construction projects in the new capital, the Great Wall and the Grand Canal at the same time. For River also originates in Qinghai excavation of the canal alone, 2 million workers Province, but runs north to south and died (Footnote 2, Shunmin: Da Yun He, Shan , 2013, p.40). The hardship becomes the Mekong River through the and heavy taxes resulted in the downfall of the Southeast Asian countries of Myanma, to usher in the splendid Tang Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam Dynasty (618907) and Dynasty (960-1280) with a period of disunion of Five Dynasties (907- before draining into . 960). During the Five Dynasties, Hangzhou, located in the state of , was the only city 1. Wu Shunming: Da Yun He (The Grand Canal), that escaped destruction in the battles to unify the Huang Shan Shu She, 2013, p. 2). The Great Yu country in the . established the first dynasty Xia (2205-1766 BC). North of the Yangtze River was prone to Ever since, succeeding dynasties continued to frequent floods from Yellow River. Driving on build, expand, dredge and repair canals for the the highway built on the banks of the Canal from transport of grain and raw material and for flood Hangzhou to Beijing, one can see that the level of control. canal water is higher than the ground level on the other side on sections of the highway. Over the years, the Grand Canal has contributed to water conservation, , besides the functions of transportation facilitating economic development, trade and cultural exchanges between the north and south. The Grand Canal runs along important of Beijing, Tianjin, , Yangzhou. The ancient Grand Canal was built in 486. , Suzhou and Hangzhou. Actually, these cities were The most extensive work was done in the created because of the Canal. Construction Sui Dynasty (589-618). Emperor Sui Wendi materials were transported through the Canal for ordered excavation of the Grand Canal to building the capital Beijing during the facilitate shipping of grain and materials from the Dynasty (1298-1368) and (1368- rich south to the capital Xi’an in the north. In 605, 1644). Emperor Kanxi (16621723) and Emperor Emperor Sui Yangdi moved the capital to Qianlong (1736-1796) of the and enlarged the Grand Canal, one to (1644-1911) each made 6 trips from Beijing to link Yellow River, one to connect to the Yangtze . There are rows of willow trees waving gently along the banks of the Canal. The traffic and commerce brought prosperity to cities along the way. Points of interest include , , parks, gardens and private homes. Overnight canal cruises are available in Life along side of grand canal sections of the Canal from Hangzhou to Suzhou and the south of the Yangzte. In 2014, the Grand Wuxi; and Suzhou to Yangzhou. Generally, Canal became a UNESCO world heritage site. cruises are expensive. To save time and money, one can have a taste by taking a 30 minute ferry SOUTH-NORTH WATER DIVERSION PROJECT in Hangzhou for 3 yuan (about 45 cents) in an air- The Grand Canal is also the eastern route conditioned boat from Wulinmen Wharf to the of the South-North Water Diversion Project. historic Gongchen built in the Ming Water from the Yangtze River drawn into the Dynasty in 1631, connecting the east and west Canal in Jiangsu Province brings 14000 cubic banks of the Canal. Modern high rise buildings square feet of water through under are forbidden along the Canal in Hangzhou. Yellow River going downhill to near Residences with compatible designs, pavilions, Tianjin. Construction of the eastern route began trees and willow trees line the banks. in December, 2002. It has been delivering water to Tianjin and Beijing since 2012. The central Hangzhou is near the of Qiantang route runs from , a of the River. The of Six Harmonies was built in Yangtze River, to Beijing and Tianjin. The 970 as a symbol to tame the powerful Qiantang western route connects 3 Yellow River tributaries River tides where the River meets the ocean. Its to the arid regions of Qinghai, , , nine floors are nearly 60 meters high, an ancient , and . It is not skyscraper. The top floor beacon served as the uncommon to see draught in the north and lighthouse for night time navigation. The tides are flooding in the south at the same time. The water the most spectacular around the Mid-Autumn diversion projects bring relief from chronic water Festival. The opens to the shortage in the north before flowing to the Pacific as well as for Ocean. The 22 mile long irrigation of farms. from Ningpo to Shanghai, one of the longest trans-oceanic , completed in 2007, is a CANAL CRUISES modern engineering marvel. Today Hangzhou is Today, the a top-ranked tourist destination, a vibrant center Canal is still a busy of innovation, rich with history, culture and waterway to natural beauty. transport bulk materials. The HIGH SPEED TRAIN Chinese like to plant With the advent of the high speed train, willow trees on the there is no need to take the slow boat in China for banks of rivers and travel. It’s easy to visit cities on the Canal route The Pagoda of Six Harmonies covering Hangzhou, Suzhou, Wuxi, , Yangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin and Jining— the Canal’s northernmost city in Shandong Province near ’ hometown . The fast train is spacious and comfortable. It takes only 45 minutes from Hangzhou to Shanghai and 25 minutes from Beijing to Tianjin. A train leaves the station every 10 minutes between Shanghai and Beijing. The trains run from city center to city center, often connected with subways, avoiding traffic jams to and from airports far from city centers. This is the favored mode of transportation today. ### Ruby Tsao, born in China, went to Taiwan with in 1949; received from National Taiwan ; awarded full scholarship from an international foundation to study in the US, received MS from the University of Michigan. she has served as President of General Resource Technology, Inc. and treasurer of Tsao Foundation -both organizations to promote utilization and research of renewable resources technology developed by her husband Professor George Tsao. Her interests include travel and writing. She writes on history and culture in the hopes to promote understanding of China for better US-China relations.