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China intensifies efforts to protect ancient canal
( Xinhua )

BEIJING - China is moving to better protect its 2,500-year-old Grand Canal by encouraging public donations and banning unnecessary construction in the area.

The Ministry of Culture publicized a set of regulations to protect the Grand Canal on Friday, and it will solicit public opinion for one month on the website of the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council.

The government encourages individuals and organizations to participate in the preservation of the Grand Canal, according to the draft regulations.

Individuals and organizations can set up funds for protecting the canal through donations and fundraising, according to the draft regulations.

Cultural heritage authorities at both the national and local levels should honor those with outstanding performances, according to the draft rules.

Besides flood control, channel dredging, water conservation facility maintenance and water diversion projects, the draft bans organizations and individuals from launching construction projects in preservation areas of the Grand Canal, which include the canal, its surrounding historic sites, streets, villages and towns.

The regulations are expected to be put into effect in September after the government makes final revisions based on public suggestions.

The main waterway of the Grand Canal, the longest artificial waterway in the world, starts in Beijing and passes through several provinces in north and east China to reach Hangzhou in east China's Zhejiang Province.

The oldest sections of the 1,776-km canal were built 2,500 years ago, and they were linked together in the Sui Dynasty (581-618). Part of the canal is still in use today.

The government is applying for world heritage status for the Grand Canal.

The State Administration of Cultural Heritage previously said it was a tough task to protect the environment along the Grand Canal, as it has been threatened by sand digging, garbage dumping and construction projects.


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