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Suzhou cheers for its new World Heritage sites

( chinadaily.com.cn )

Updated: 2014-06-25

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China’s Grand Canal, the longest artificial waterway in the world, was included on the UNESCO World Heritage list on June 22. Among the listed heritages, four ancient waterway branches and seven cultural heritage sites are located within Suzhou.

Suzhou is cheering for the good news, believing that such a success will benefit local residents and canal protection and development. Zhou Dengliang, 77, lived near the Grand Canal when he was a child. Zhou remembers many boats and cargo ships traveling back and forth on the canal in the past. It has made great contributions to Suzhou’s economy, while at the same time, posed threats to the environment.

Fortunately, the municipal government has taken measures to protect the Grand Canal, for example supporting silt removal in the canal, which has made the water clearer. Additionally, more trees and grass have been planted to provide a green environment along the canal.

Baodai Bridge in Suzhou is one of the Grand Canal heritage sites added on June 22. Chen Xinnan, 48, grew up in Xiatian village, not far away from Baodai Bridge. According to Chen: “Everyone is excited about the news. Just think that a World Heritage site is so near to us!” The prosperity around Baodai Bridge in the 1980s is still alive in Chen’s memory. “At that time, there was traffic near Baodai Bridge, and many tourists traveled here on holidays.” However, traffic reform later made it less convenient to travel here. As a result, the number of tourists gradually declined.

Thanks to Suzhou Metro Line Two, whose terminal station is South Baodai Bridge, traffic to Baodai Bridge thrives again. Chen says most of the tourists traveling here are elderly people who seek nostalgia around Baodai Bridge.

Suzhou is also considering how to protect and develop the Grand Canal better in the future. Historian Shen Lansheng suggests that a water bus route can be developed to relieve the traffic pressure of Suzhou. In addition, more tourism products integrated with Grand Canal culture will be developed to attract more tourists to Suzhou.

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