The Grand Canal
State Administration of Cultural Heritage
Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei Province, Shandong Province, Jiangsu Province, Anhui Province, Zhejiang Province and Henan Province
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party
This property consists of five sections of the Grand Canal across six provinces and two municipalities in China.
1. Section in Jiangsu Province
The Grand Canal is about 1,794 kilometres long, including 690 kilometres within Jiangsu Province, about two fifths of its total length. It could be divided into seven sections, of which three are located in Jiangsu Province, namely the Middle Canal Section north of Huai'an, Inner Canal Section from Huai'an to Yangzhou, and Jiangnan Canal Section south of Zhenjiang. The Canal traverses eight (Xuzhou, Suqian, Huai'an, Yangzhou, Zhenjiang, Changzhou, Wuxi, Suzhou) of the 3 cities directly under the jurisdiction of Jiangsu Provincial Government, whose river valley amounts to two thirds of the Province's total area. Jiangsu Province is regarded as the cradle of the Grand Canal. According to Zuozhuan, Fuchai, the king of Wu excavated Han'gou between the Yangtze River and Huaihe River in 486 BC after he defeated the kingdoms of Yue and Chu. The later generation wisely used the river course when excavating the Grand Canal. Till today, the sites of ancient Han'gou still can be seen in Yangzhou of Jiangsu Province. Accordingly, the history of using the Grand Canal can be traced back to 2,492 years ago in Jiangsu where the earliest section of the Canal can be found. In addition, the Grand Canal valley is also the key area where the historic and cultural heritages of Jiangsu Province can be found. To be more specific, five of seven noted historic and cultural cities at national level, three of six noted historic and cultural cities at provincial level, five of seven noted historic and cultural towns at national level, 11 of 13 noted historic and cultural towns at provincial level and one of three noted historic and cultural reserves at provincial level are situated along the Grand Canal. In addition, a large proportion of about 10,000 cultural heritages on the ground (of which 2,890 have been listed as the historic sites under protection by governments at all levels) are located at the Canal valley. Owing to the developed water system in Jiangsu, a large number of rivers can be connected with the Grand Canal. Accordingly, the tangible cultural heritages concerning the Grand Canal account for an absolutely high proportion in the province.
The Grand Valley Canal is key to the economic and cultural development in Jiangsu Province. As a transportation artery connecting south and north, the Canal played an important role in economic and cultural exchanges and development between these two regions. In the Tang Dynasty, the Jianghuai Region where the Grand Canal traverses had evolved into the central area for collecting taxes, which was typically embodied in the old saying of "nine tenths of today's taxes comes from Jiangnan". Xuzhou, Huai'an, Yangzhou, Zhenjiang, Wuxi and Suzhou are all important towns and distributing centres of materials of strategic importance and various commodities. In particular, Yangzhou had become an important port of "Marine Silk Road" in ancient China, the largest metropolis in Southeast China and one of the four greatest trade ports in the Tang Dynasty, as well as the salt and grain transportation center by water in the Qing Dynasty. Huai'an area, as a strategic port along the Grand Canal, has created a record of transporting eight million Dan (unit of dry measure for grain in China, roughly equivalent to 1 hectolitre) in a year, therefore enjoying the reputation of "transport centre of nine provinces". In the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Governor-General's Office of South River Course had been established in Huai'an area; the Governor's Office of Grain Transport by Water was set up in Chuzhou. The heads of the two offices were mandarins of the second rank in the court. Huai'an and Xuzhou were called "four granaries in the country" along with Linqing and Dezhou in Shandong Province. Wuxi was developed into a well-known and extremely prosperous cloth port, silk market and one of the four rice markets in China which gathered businessmen all over China. As early as in the Song Dynasty, Suzhou had been reputed as an oriental water city and was well-known for its prosperous economy, wealthy people and unique sceneries, which was best illustrated in the poem of "390 bridges with red handrail cross over green waters running from south to east and from south to north". In the Ming and Qing dynasties, Suzhou was the largest commercial centre in China and was known as "the largest metropolis east of the Yangtze River". The Grand Canal laid a solid foundation for the economic and cultural construction of the areas where the Canal traverses, and still has a significant impact on these areas.
2. Section in Anhui Province
The digging of Tongji Canal of the Sui-Tang Grand Canal was launched in the 1st year of Daye reign in the Sui dynasty (605 A.D). Water from the Yellow River was first introduced from Banzhu via Xingze to Bianqu Canal which was canalized in the Eastern Han Dynasty, where after it branched off the ancient Bianqu Canal and turned south-eastward when it reached Kaifeng, and then ran all the way through Shangqiu, Yongcheng, Suixi County (Liuzi), Suzhou, Lingbi, Sixian, Ancient Sizhou before it finally converged with Huaihe River after it. It has become an important passage to connect the three water systems of the Yellow River, Huaihe River and Changjiang River. Tongji Canal is 40 paces in width with imperial roads constructed and willow trees planted along the bank called "Sui Dyke" (also called "Bian Dyke"). Tongji Canal had been used by the Sui, Tang, and Song dynasties and was called Bianhe River in the Tang and Song dynasties during which dredging work had been conducted continually. About a dozen years after the Southern Song regime was established it was left to waste due to the frequent warfare, the Yellow River flood, and maintenance neglect and other causes. The total length of Tongji Canal was 650 km with 400 km newly dug watercourse. The capital supply water transportation had continued on it for about 500 years. The remaining section of the Grand Canal in Anhui Province is some 180 km of which over 130 km is within Suzhou City and over 40 km within Suixi County of Huaibei City.
Tongji Canal runs throughout Suixi County of Huaibei City and Suzhou City from Northwest to Southeast. The sites of the remains have been well preserved. According to archaeological investigation it has been proven that the canal ran into Anhui Province at Suixi County, then traverses Suzhou City all the way through West Erpu Sub-township of Yongqiao District, Urban Area of Suzhou City, Zhuxianzhuang Town of Yongqiao District, Dadian Town of Yongqiao District, continues to flow through Lingbi county throughout Changji Sub-township, Louzhuang Town, Lingxi Sub-township of Lingbi County, the county seat, Lingcheng Town, Yuji Sub-township, and threads through Sixian County via Changgou Town, Sanwan Sub-township, the county seat, Xuhe Sub-township, Caomiao Town, Xiaoliang Sub-township, and finally out to enter Sihong County of Jiangsu Province. The Canal within Yongqiao District and Lingbi County is mostly on the north side of the 303 Provincial Road where the upheaval landscape could still been found. There is still a segment of the ancient waterway which is still in function as an irrigation work. The Suzhou segment of the Grand Canal has been promulgated as a key historic site under Municipal Protection by the people's government of Suzhou city.
3. Section in Zhejiang Province
The main riverway of the Grand Canal section in Zhejiang Province has a full length of over 100 kilometres, and extends along two lines (northern line and southern line, which both ends at Gongchen Bridge in Hangzhou. Before the ancient Yuan Dynasty, the Grand Canal ran along its Southern Line, via Hangzhou, Linping, Chang'an, Xucun, Tongxiang, and Jiaxing before entering Jiangsu Province. In the late years of the Yuan Dynasty, Zhang Shicheng had the northern line of the Grand Canal extended, thus the Grand Canal traverses Tangqi of Yuhang, Deqing, Tongxiang, and Jiaxing before entering Jiangsu Province.
The Grand Canal section in Zhejiang Province had gained a considerable size as early as the Times of King Goujian of the State Yue in the Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States Period. It is recorded in historical documents that, the Grand Canal section in the State Yue ran from Huiji and Qiantang River to reach the State Wu; and the Grand Canal section in the State Wu, in the northern part of Zhejiang Province, ran from Suzhou to Shimen in Jiaxing via Lingshuidao of Baichi Ditch. In that period when the State Wu fought against the State Yue, both states had relied on the Grand Canal to convey both their corps and military supplies. In the Qin Dynasty, the Jiangnan Canel linked Jiangsu Province and Zhejiang Province. In the Sui Dynasty, there has formed a canal-based water transportation network, which was cantered at Jiaxing. Thanks to the uninterrupted construction in the Tang and Song dynasties, the Grand Canal section in Zhejiang Province has no longer been a man-made river which remained the line type, instead, it formed a crisscross riverway system, in which the Grand Canal section in Jiang-nan Region played a leader role, and up to eight branch waterways were connected. This huge riverway system connected the Jiangnan Region, and was furnished with stronger functions in terms of water conservancy and transportation. Thanks to the great help offered by the Grand Canal, the Taihu Drainage Area become the best developed part of the then country in economic and cultural terms, hence an old saying that "the whole country gets rich once the Taihu Drainage Area embraces a heavy harvest", and another saying that "the best places on earth to live in is Suzhou and Hangzhou".
The Grand Canal section in Zhejiang Province is endued with enviable geographical conditions, rich water resources, a widespread riverway network, and peaceful waterways. An old saying goes that "the section of the Grand Canal in Zhejiang Province has clear water and a bed that requires no dredging at all". Even now, this section is still playing a significant role in terms of water transportation, with an annual cargo handling capacity of over 00 billion tons. The cultural heritages along the Grand Canal section in Zhejiang Province include banks, revetments, wharfs, piers, narrow riverways, mounds, dykes, sluice valves, water separating frusta, bridges, villages, towns, city walls, mansions, monuments, personages' graves, various kinds of architectural establishments, customs building of modern times, churches, industrial and mining enterprises, and public infrastructure facilities, etc. In particular, the main riverway winds for hundreds of kilometers, and is flanked with piers, wharfs, bridges, dams, sluice valves, villages, towns and city walls. Sha-qing Valve and Luofan Ting have been important water conservancy facilities from the Sui to the Qing Dynasty, and were administered by officers sent by the then Imperial Palace; besides, mansions were built up to receive business travellers and individual tourists. Along the Grand Canal, there were originally myriad bridges, only over 100 of which still exist today. Among them, the three major representatives are Gongchen Bridge, Guangji Bridge and Changhong Bridge. Furthermore, the thin-pier and thin-arch bridges are unique in Taihu Drainage Area, where the soil is softer than that elsewhere, and demonstrate the great craftsmanship and wisdom of local labourers and technicians, by virtue of their outstanding economical efficiency and impressive beauty. Besides, there have formed a galaxy of towns and cities along the banks of the Grand Canal, which ever housed the largest density of population nationwide. Even nowadays, there have existed a number of towns and cities each with a history of hundreds/thousands of years, such as Hangzhou, Huzhou and Jiaxing, which are famous historic and cultural cities; and Xitang, Wuzhen and Xinshi, which are historic and cultural reserves. In fact, you could enjoy the almost intact production and living scenes in these splendid towns along the banks of the Grand Canal, plus their rich farm produces and nice handicrafts, such as embroidery, brush pen, paper fan and many others. Furthermore, there has been a time-honoured Dragon Boat Contest, which is held annually to salute immortals, whose existence is long believed by locals, and another customary event "Naocanhua", which are deemed now intangible cultural heritages of great value. To sum up, the Grand Canal is a world-renowned project of significance, and a symbol of the country's overall strength, as well as a great wonder in proof of the humankind's recreation of the natures; meanwhile, it has propelled the reunification, social and economic development of the country, the advancement of science and technology, and cultural prosperity.
4. Section in Henan Province
The Henan Segment of the Grand Canal during the Sui and Tang dynasties (also called "the Jing-Hang Grand Canal) runs through Luoyang, Zhengzhou, Kaifeng, Shangqiu, Xinxiang, Anyang and other places in Henan Province of the People's Republic of China. It covers cultural remains and relics such as Luoyang City during the Sui and Tang dynasties, the Hanjia Granary, Xingyang Ancient City, Dongjing City of the Northern Song, Suiyang City of Shangqiu, the Ancient Canal of Shangqiu. The following is a brief introduction:
Luoyang City was the eastern capital for the Sui and Tang Periods and had served as another national political, economic, and cultural centre next only to Xi'an city. It is very hard to find any contemporary capital site at home or abroad which could rival this city in its grandness of the city site, its majesty of the constructions, its richness of the cultural significance, and its lengthy history of continuous use, which in turn make this city a very important material evidence in the study of Chinese history and Sino-foreign exchange history in the middle ages.
Hanjia Granary was a royal granary for the collection of grain land taxations of the prefectures and counties east to the capital. Its history could be traced more than 500 years back all the way through the three dynasties of the Northern Song, Tang and Sui. In the Sui-Tang period, the water-transported grain supply to Luoyang via the canals in the South of the Lower Reaches of the Changjiang River and Tongji Canal was in most cases to be stored in Hanjia Granary.
Xingyang Ancient City used to be the starting point of the Grand Canal, i.e. Honggou Canal in the Warring States Period. It was no other than this watercourse that had been adopted to mark the division of the country in the famous Chu-Han War. It was made the location of Xingze County in the Sui and Tang periods. The other segment of Tongji Canal introduces water of the Yellow River from Banzhu (in the northwest of present Xingyang) to join Bianshui River via here.
Dongjing City has been a very important capital city in the ancient Chinese history. After 68 years' construction and maintenance of nine emperors of the Northern Song regime, Dongjing City had emerged as an international metropolis "with a population up to a million and magnificence unparalleled across the lands under heaven". The several major watercourses for the capital supply transportation inside the city, especially Bianhe River, constitute the main lines of the Grand Canal.
Suiyang City of Shangqiu was first constructed in the 6th year of Zhengde period in the Ming Dynasty (i.e. A.D. 1511). The city wall was constructed with bricks enwrapped in rammed earth and its circumference amounts to 4,355 meters. The Sites of Suiyang Ancient City of the Han and Tang dynasties, Nanjing City of the Song Dynasty and Gui'de Prefecture City of the Yuan Dynasty have all been submerged by the moat water in the south city. It was a very important commercial city along the Grand Canal.
As one part of the Grand Canal during the Sui and Tang dynasties, Ancient Canal of Shangqiu had become a cultural relic to link Dongjing City and Nanjing City, the two political, economic and cultural centres. The riverbank is made up of rather hard pitchy brown soil with the mud-and-sand silted riverbed. And the bottom is very smooth owing to the continuous wash of the water. China wares and copper coins of the Sui and Tang periods have been unearthed from the silt on the lower level of the waterbed while cultural remains of the Song Dynasty have been excavated from the upper part.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
The Grand Canal is well known in the world as a great water conservancy project, and it is an outstanding masterpiece of the human beings. This property, in the capacity of a man-made project globally known for its integration of water conservancy and transportation functions, has been a vivid reflection of the Chinese people's accomplishments in water conservancy, bridge erection and architectural establishments, etc; and also demonstrated the country's skills in organizing, planning and administrating the important projects. Besides, this property has virtually facilitated the development of the country's eastern part, and influenced the formation of China's political and economic layout, as well as boosting the cultural exchanges between the country's south and north, and east and west. As a matter of fact, the Grand Canal had has its values manifested not only in the engineering realm, but much more in its influences on China's social, political, economic and cultural developments. Meanwhile, this property has served as invaluable evidence to research into these realms.
According to different situations of the eight sections of the Grand Canal, they conform to different criteria from (i) to (vi). Among them the sections in Shangdong Province and Anhui Province both conform to criteria (i)/(iii)/(iv), while the section in Zhejiang Province conforms to criteria (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v), and the section in Henan Province conforms to criteria (i)/(ii)/(iii)/(iv)/(vi).
1. Section in Shandong Province
The section in Shangdong Province lies in the middle of the Grand Canal, and is a hub of transportation as well as the centre of cultural communication between the South and North. If this section Canal was unblocked, the whole route would be. So this part is the key junction of the Grand Canal. In Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasty, the organizations in charge of the Grand Canal were all located here, which was regarded as the difficult and important point of the canal management. Therefore, after this section of Canal was opened, many sluice gates were built in the main course. In order to guarantee the water transportation, the auxiliary Canal-aiding projects of Wenhe and Sihe Rivers Canal were built in Yuan Dynasty; Nanwang Water Project which used water facilities to adjust the water flow of the canal so that transport could e controlled. All of these are of great scientific, historic and artistic value. Especially for Nan Wang Water Project, in the beginning of the Republic of China, Fang Weiyin, an American expert in water conservancy, said with admiration, "This project can be regarded as a great works in the 4th or 5th century at the beginning of engineering. And it is the achievement of wisdom and improvement of ancient people. At the sight of it we have to have boundless respect and admiration." On either bank of the Canal, there are many humane landscapes and inscriptions closely connected with the Grand Canal, which are of profound cultural connotation, such as the inscription "Da Yuan Xin Kai Hui Tong He Ji". In a word, the section in Shangdong Province is a very important part of the Grand Canal. And its value applies to criteria (i), (iii) and (iv) for being listed in the World Cultural Heritage.
2. Section in Anhui Province
The section of Grand Canal in Anhui Province is a magnum opus of human creative genius which has duly acknowledged the intelligence and power of the ancient Chinese labor people to change and make use of the nature, providing a unique witness for the great civilization of the Sui, Tang and Song dynasties, the grandeur and majesty of the great Tang prosperity and the economic boom of the Northern Song Dynasty. As an artificial canal, the docks on it and the presumable buildings on the Sui Dyke reflected the technological level of man at that time.
3. Section in Zhejiang Province
The section in Zhejiang Province conforms to criterion (i) through (v). As for criterion (i), the Grand Canal is a masterpiece showing the humankind's spirit of creation, and has ever had a huge influence on the development of water conservancy and transportation technologies. When it comes to criterion (ii), the Grand Canal, and its related water conservancy facilities, bridges and architectures, have demonstrated the systematic, multi-disciplinary, scientific and technological accomplishments made by the Chinese people in terms of history, art, science and technology, and also had a profound and long-lasting impact on these fields. It conforms to criterion (iii) while the building of the Grand Canal has exercised a huge and profound influence on the security and reunification of the Chinese nation, economic development and growth, innovation and advancement in science and technology, cultural fusion and prosperity, and in particular on the positive evolution of civilization in China. Thus, it has been a cultural heritage of enormous value and an emblem of the Chinese nation. As for criterion (iv), the Grand Canal is an outstanding architectural establishment or an exemplary project with its own characteristics, and a symbol of important engineering achievements of the human being during a certain period of time (from 486 B.C to 611 A.D.). Finally, the Grand Canal holds a rather high universal value in terms of social and economic factors that have outstanding universal value, which conforms to criterion (v).
4. Section in Henan Province
As for the section in Henan Province, Luoyang City during the Sui and Tang dynasties is in an important position of the middle-age city history and had a significant influence on the city construction in other areas. The city has a grand scale and strict layout design with perfect city functions. In the Sui and Tang periods, it was the central terminal for the Grand Canal. The stone-laid riverbank found on the riverbed of Luohe River inside the city, the remains of Tianjin Bridge and the large-scale irrigation facilities in the Luonan New District all witnessed the booming days of the Sui-Tang Grand Canal. It well meets the criteria (ii),(iii) and (iv).
The dock handling water transportation excavated southeast to Hanjia Granary verified that the head segment of Tongji Canal of the Sui-Tang Grand Canal had very close relationship with Hanjia Granary. The carved bricks, several hundreds of large-scale grain cellars and the carbonized grains of several hundred thousands of grams found in the granary have offered very important original material for the study of the storage technology and management system of large-scale official granaries in the Sui and Tang periods while providing proofs for the booming water transportation brought by the Grand Canal during the Sui and Tang dynasties. And this conforms to the criteria (iii) and (iv).
Xingyang Ancient City was built in the Warring States Period and served as the Sanchuan prefecture site in the Qin Dynasty and consequently became one of the important battle fields in the Chu-Han War. There lay Honggou Canal and ancient waterway of the Tongji Canal in the southeast of the city. There was the largest Han iron-smelting site of the country outside the west city wall, out of which the highest and largest iron-smelting furnace of that contemporary world was unearthed right here. This has qualified it for the criterion (ii).
Dongjing City of the Northern Song occupied a very important position in the history of ancient Chinese capital development in terms of its city scale, forms and layout. The cultural content of the city site represented the highest level of Chinese economic, cultural and technologic development then. Many significant historical events and scientific achievements took place or had been created here. Thus this project satisfies the criteria (i),(ii),(iii),(iv) and (vi).
Suiyang city of Shangqiu used to be the alternative capital of the Northern Song capital Dongjing and another important political, economic and cultural centre along the canal. The crowded numerous shops and stalls inside the city made it a city with extremely prosperous commerce. The existing remains of the ancient city ranked among the few well-preserved integral cities of the Ming Dynasty. This enables this project to pass the criteria (ii) and (iv).
The ancient canal of Shangqiu holds an important position among the ancient waterways of the Grand Canal during the Sui and Tang dynasties. There are dock remains and several sunken ships inside the watercourse. Besides, a great number of relics such as China wares, tri-colored glazed potteries, copper coins, etc. have been excavated as the original material evidence which verifies the Sui-Tang and the Northern Song Grand Canal had run through Shangqiu. This qualifies the project for the world cultural heritage according to the criterion (iii).
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
1. Section in Shandong Province
In the case of the Section in Shandong Province, when the Grand Canal from Beijing to Hangzhou achieved all line run-through, governors and temporary governors in charge of water in Yuan Dynasty began to set their office in Jining, and that was the beginning of central government organization water transport handling official business in Jining. The fourth year of Yanyou (1317 A.D.), Kuo Kai, the eunuch administering water transport, was stationed in Jining, building the Jinkouba Dam, damming water into the Canal from the Sihe River, and supervising water transportation. The 6th year of Zhizheng (1346 A.D.), the government sent governors from Shandong and Henan to Jining. The 11th year of Zhizheng, Jia Lu, the Minister of the Board of Works, came to Jining as the general envoy to take charge of the river flood-prevention work. In Ming Dynasty, the river premier, river governor, river manager, general governor of water transportation, and the imperial inspector etc., called general governor in short, were officially appointed by the imperial government as the supreme administrative organization of the Grand Canal. The 9th year of Yongle (1411 A.D.), Song Li, the Minister of the Board of Works came to live in Jining to administer the river. He set up government office managing the river; In Qing Dynasty, the water transport organization followed the pattern of Ming Dynasty when Shun Zhi was the Emperor. In Kang Xi's time, there were some new systems, but the classification of the government offices was the same as in Ming Dynasty. The river general governor office was built on the former site where Song Li once built his. Lin Zexu, the famous Opium-smoking Prohibition Movement leader, national hero, was appointed to be the general governor of the river in Jining in the 11th year of Dao Guang (1831 A.D.). As is investigated, from the early time of Qing Dynasty to the 28th year of Guang Xu (1902 AD), when the water transport was suspended; there were 119 governors assigned by the court, 101 of whom filled the post, and nearly half of them were first-rank officials. There's no doubt that Jining is the capital of the Canal. After the People's Republic of China was founded, the local government of Jining carried through the Act of maintaining the canal by cleaning up the silt in 1958. In 1985, the local government declared the passage of the ancient Canal in downtown Jining as preservation of cultural relics. In 1992, Jinkouba Dam and Nan Wang Bifurcating Dragon Temple were made to public as provincial preservation of cultural relics of Shandong. In 2002, Jining Cultural Relic Administration Bureau and Jining Constructing Committee had delimited the protection range and the construction controlling land to the ancient Canal of urban area. And it was brought into Jining city construction plan.
The Grand Canal in Jining is not affected by the disadvantage of territorial industrialization and urbanization. The large enterprises along the Canal have been moved out. In addition, the government has frequently carried out the silt-clearing. There is no contamination at all. The Jining Cultural Relic Administration Bureau insists on the principle of the preservation of cultural relics. The government has repaired and protected the Jinkouba Dam, the Bifurcating Dragon Temple, Nanyang Sluice gate, the stone wall dike of the ancient Canal, Huiyuan Sluice gate and Huitong Bridge. The style and features of the ancient Canal's has been kept as it was, which gives impression to its authenticity and completeness.
2. Section in Anhui Province
As for the Section in Anhui Province, the exterior form and designs, the material and substantiality, the usage and functions, tradition, technology and managerial system, as well as the orientation and location of Tongji Canal site are all authentic and creditable. The records on historical books and archives of the past dynasties, the archaeological investigation and the discovery and significant archaeological excavation of cultural relics along the line in recent years have provided more proof for its authenticity. The site of Tongji Canal has its integrity, that is, it has the indispensable factors of the universal value in section (i) (iii) (iv). With a total length of 650 km and a total width of nearly 200 m (including the bank), it is large enough in terms of its scale to fully represent and materialize the characteristics of the value of a cultural heritage. Now it is suffering from the negative effect of the development of modern cities and small town construction campaign. Tongji Canal site is well preserved for the moment as the governments at different levels are aware of the negative effect it is suffering from and are taking measures to actively strengthen the protection of it.
3. Section in Zhejiang Province
The section within Zhejiang Province has been recorded in detail in documentation since the Han Dynasty, and also preserved in good conditions, thus being still in use nowadays. Besides, a galaxy of river banks, revetments, dams, sluice valves, wharfs, and bridges have been preserved in good conditions, so have large ancient street blocks in Wuzhen, Xitang and Nanxun Towns. Moreover, a lot of cultural heritages and historical buildings have been well preserved in Hangzhou, Jiaxing and Huzhou. Along the banks of the Grand Canal, there have been excavated a large number of cultural heritages, which provide strong evidences for scientists, sociologists, historians and many other scholars to engage in the research into water conservancy, architectures, bridges, settlements, economic history, cultural history and technical history, etc. This section in Zhejiang Province has its main riverway preserved in its entirety; and a number of auxiliary water conservancy facilities are well preserved and still in operations. Besides, those settlements, towns and villages, and cultural heritages emerging along the banks of the Grand Canal have been preserved in part, thus forming a cluster of cultural heritages of great values.
4. Section in Henan Province
As for the section in Henan Province, although it has witnessed more than a thousand years' historic vicissitude, its original authenticity and integrity have been well preserved. The initiation and reconstruction of all the listed six cultural relics have fairly complete and clear annals which could in turn be verified with reference to historical archives and archaeological data. There have been little changes in terms of their original appearances in comparison with the present status and structure. The process of their historical development is very clear with their corresponding historical and cultural background very explicit. The surrounding environments of the Luoyang City during the Sui and Tang dynasties and the other five ancient sites remain in their pristine status. Thanks to the underground submergence, little artificial destruction has been done, which ensures high-level integrity.
Comparison with other similar properties
The world-famous Grand Canal and the Great Wall are the two greatest projects in ancient China. They're symbols of Chinese civilization. The Grand Canal links up five river systems, the Haihe River, the Yellow River, the Huaihe River, the Yangtze River and the Qiantang River. It's the longest man-made canal, about 10 times as long as the Suez Canal, 22 times as Panama Canal. It's also one of the oldest canals in the world. With regard to the history of the Grand Canal, if we count it from 487 B.C, the year the emperor of Wu excavated the Han Ditch, it is almost 2,500 years old; If we take the get-through of Huitonghe River and Tonghuihe River as the symbol of the all line run-through from the 29th year of Zhiyuan in Yuan Dynasty (1292 A.D.) to now, it is already 700 years old. The Grand Canal has been clear of obstructions for hundreds of years, and Jining is the decisive part of it. Jining takes an important part in the communication of the North and South's economy and literature. It solves lots of problems, such as, the transportation of the cereals from South to North. The Jining passage has been preserved intact and full of accurate document records. It accords with the demands of the world's heritage-true and intact.
Compared with other world-renowned canals, such as France's South Canal, China's Grand Canal was excavated earlier, on a larger scale, and by use of more advanced techniques; besides, China's Grand Canal possesses more functions, and has cost a longer period of construction. On top of that, the Grand Canal has played a greater role in directly influencing the reunification of China, reinforcing the overall strength of China, and helping the humankind utilize the natural environment smartly and co-exist with the great nature in peace. Therefore, the Grand Canal is of outstanding value.
Taking the section in Henan Province as an example, the items listed on the Henan Segment of the Grand Canal during the Sui and Tang dynasties stand out for the unique features in their cultural diversity and historical continuity. The construction of the Luoyang City during the Sui and Tang dynasties not only integrated the design concepts of previous Luoyang City during the Han and Wei dynasties but also consulted the plan and layout of the west capital Chang'an city, thus to have laid down the bases for the Chinese capital design in the Middle Ages along with Chang'an city and have had direct influences on the Chinese city constructions in the later eras. So it is of great significance in terms of the east ancient city construction. Luoyang is both the east starting city of the Silk Road and the head of the Tongji Canal of the Grand Canal during the Sui and Tang dynasties, which is unparalleled in comparison with other cultural relics. The enormous scale of the Hanjia Granary, the astounding volume of the stored grains, the advancement of the storing technology, the strictness of the management system as well as its intimate relationship with the Grand Canal all stand alone in the history of the Grand Canal. The iron smelting site of the Han Dynasty in Xingyang Ancient City represented the most advanced technology in iron smelting of the world at that time.
Dongjing City of the Northern Song Dynasty was the most prosperous city then. There spread inside the populous city thick river networks, numerous bridges and crowded shops and stalls. Both water ways and land transportation were available. Compared with other city sites of the same period, its historical connotation is more concentrative, comprehensive, and representative. Suiyang City of Shangqiu was another political, economic and cultural centre in the Northern Song period. As to the Ancient Canal of Shangqiu, not only many important remains in close relationship with the Grand Canal during the Sui and Tang dynasties are preserved, but also a great number of cultural relics have been excavated here, which recorded and witnessed the water routes and traffic conditions of the Grand Canal over various historical periods.