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Grand ambitions for ancient canal

By Cao Yingying | China Daily | Updated: 2020-09-29

Beijing, Hangzhou working together to explain and promote contemporary value of historic waterway that connects them

The second Beijing-Hangzhou Dialogue on the Grand Canal was held in the capital on Wednesday, as the two cities look to strengthen their cooperation in protection, inheritance and utilization of the Grand Canal culture belt.

Part of the Grand Canal built during the Sui and Tang dynasties (581-907), the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal connects southern and northern China and features a wealth of historic and cultural heritage, and it continues to be a means of transportation, irrigation and flood control.

The Beijing-Hangzhou Dialogue was initiated last year. The two cities are taking turns to host this annual event, which is aimed at promoting the construction of the Grand Canal cultural belt and exploring a new model of regional cooperation and cultural development.

At the opening ceremony of this year's event, Du Feijin, head of the Beijing Publicity Department, said the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal Dialogue is an important initiative to bring together the wisdom and strength of cities along the canal.

To better promote the construction of the Grand Canal cultural belt, Du suggested that the two cities enhance their understanding of the Grand Canal culture and make efforts to protect and repair the canal and explain the contemporary value of the Grand Canal culture.

An initiative to develop and share the Grand Canal culture was proposed at the opening ceremony of the event, which highlighted the protection of the Grand Canal.

There are more than 450 national intangible cultural heritage sites along the canal.

The organizing committee of the event called for regional coordination to build a Grand Canal cultural community and promote the development of culture and tourism along the canal.

The Grand Canal was listed as a world heritage site in 2014, which has enhanced its international influence. With a more open and inclusive attitude, one of the initiative's goals is to help the canal go global.

This year's dialogue has strengthened the exchange with the World Historical and Cultural Canal Cities Cooperation Organization, which signed an agreement with the Beijing, Zhejiang and Hangzhou governments as well as China News Service to establish a cooperation framework in a bid to promote the protection, inheritance and utilization of the Grand Canal culture.

Representatives of other canal cities and experts on canal research delivered speeches via videos at the opening ceremony.

David Edwards-May, president of Inland Waterways International, said he was inspired with China's strong awareness of the canal's cultural significance and the country's practices in its protection and preservation.

"The canals are an invaluable natural resource but they require work to maintain and develop," he said.

The Beijing Bureau of Culture and Tourism and its counterpart from Zhejiang province signed another agreement on the opening day to complement each other's cultural resources in a bid to boost high-quality development of one another's tourism industries.

A third agreement was inked by Bank of Beijing and Bank of Hangzhou during the forum. The banks jointly issued financial products related to Grand Canal culture, the first of its kind for the two cities. The move is expected to enhance cooperation between the cities and advance the construction of the Grand Canal cultural belt, officials said.

In addition, the event, held on Sept 23-27, also featured picture and book exhibitions on the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal and other activities. The event's co-organizers included the Information Office of the Beijing municipal government.

caoyingying@chinadaily.com.cn

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Representatives of the information offices of Beijing municipal and Zhejiang provincial governments, the Hangzhou city government and the World Historic and Cultural Canal Cities Cooperation Organization sign an agreement over the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal preservation, protection and promotion during a recent dialogue held in Beijing. CHINA DAILY

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Ancient books collected at the Zhejiang Library in Hangzhou are displayed at the Beijing-Hangzhou Dialogue on the Grand Canal on Wednesday. CHINA DAILY

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A staff member introduces an ancient porcelain vase to a foreign visitor during the event. CAO YINGYING/CHINA DAILY

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