Beijing, Hangzhou pioneer canal revitalization
Hangzhou News   2021-11-16 14:16   Source:China Daily

Beijing will continue to take the lead in protecting the Grand Canal and boost its cultural and economic presence, a senior official said at the Beijing Hangzhou Dialogue in October.

The 2021 China Grand Canal Cultural Belt Beijing Hangzhou Dialogue was held in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province, from Oct 21 to 23.

At the event, Beijing and Hangzhou, two cities at the northernmost and southernmost ends of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, vowed to play a bigger role in jointly advancing the Grand Canal Cultural Belt.

The two cities initiated the dialogue mechanism in 2019 to exploit new opportunities from the Grand Canal, which has a history of more than 2,000 years.

The annual dialogue event gathered officials, experts and business insiders in order to communicate ideas on how to protect, exploit and develop the canal and how to increase the international influence of the Grand Canal Cultural Belt.

The 2021 dialogue event, with the theme "The Age-old Canal Taking Us to Common Prosperity", highlighted the pioneering role of the two cities in advancing the Grand Canal Cultural Belt, boosting cultural, ecological and socioeconomic development along the canal, and striving to further the cause of high-quality development and common prosperity.

At the opening ceremony of the 2021 Beijing Hangzhou Dialogue, Mo Gaoyi, head of the Publicity Department of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, said Beijing will put the Grand Canal Cultural Belt high on its agenda to build the city into a national cultural center.

"Beijing will prioritize the protection of the canal while we further tap into its potential and utilize its resources to revitalize the age-old Grand Canal in our times," he said.

Beijing has blazed a trail in China by establishing a mechanism for promoting the construction of the Grand Canal Cultural Belt.

The mechanism features both overall and detailed plans, including a long-term blueprint, midterm action plans and annual reviews. Over the past three years, a total of 88 key projects have been carried out in this regard.

The city government has unveiled two development plans: the first one is an implementation plan for the protection, inheritance and utilization of the canal's cultural values, while the other one is a construction plan for building a Grand Canal-themed national cultural park.

The second document, titled "Construction and Protection of Beijing Grand Canal National Cultural Park", was released by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform on Oct 9.

The construction of national cultural parks involving cultural landmarks, including the Great Wall, the Grand Canal, the Long March and the Yellow River, is a major public cultural services project mentioned in the country's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25).

The Construction and Protection of Beijing Grand Canal National Cultural Park plan, in this sense, is a comprehensive guideline for Beijing to target its efforts on the coordinated development involving the canal.

The plan sets up three implementation milestones in the next five years.

By 2021, efforts should be made to lay a solid foundation for the construction of the Grand Canal National Cultural Park, with the Tongzhou section of the canal open to navigation and a management mechanism of the park established.

By 2023, progress will be made in coordinating the protection and utilization of cultural resources along the canal and the national cultural park will be fundamentally completed.

By 2025, the park will become a new cultural landmark in Beijing. The Grand Canal, with its cultural resources put under protection and ecological conservation along its banks significantly improved, will embrace stronger cultural and tourism influence.

Cities along the canal by then will welcome further coordinated or integrated development.

The Beijing section of the Grand Canal, a valued asset to Beijing, is a river full of cultural resources, ecological values, social benefits and economic potential.

Beijing will therefore continue to take more concrete actions to bring out the best in the canal.

Author:YUAN SHENGGAO  Editor:Wang Jian