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A cradle of civilization | Updated: 2020-09-25 13:55
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Researcher Zhong Lina learned about the Yellow River that has nurtured Chinese civilization in her childhood like many compatriots.

"The Yellow River is a magic place that connects ancient China from 5,000 years ago to the present," said Zhong, who's the vice-dean of the Institute for Big Data Research in Tourism and Culture at Beijing International Studies University.

"If you want to learn about the Chinese people, do not just go to Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Visit the Yellow River, the cradle of, and witness to, Chinese history. It's a historical river, a heritage river and an ecological river.

"We hope to tell its story to more people around the world and invite people from around the globe to visit and experience its heritage and culture through tourism to encounter this ecosystem that has existed for 5,000 years."

It was midnight when she first visited the river's Hukou Waterfall. The sky was full of stars. The river roared loudly.

The waterway is 300 meters wide in Lanzhou, capital of Gansu province. But it shrinks to 30 meters and forms a beautiful waterfall when it flows through Hukou.

"This is where my ancestors first learned how to make fire, build dwellings and fight floods. The land along the river fed the tribes. Then, the tribes became a country, and the country became an empire," Zhong said.

Zhong took her son on trips along the river when he was growing up to help him learn about China's people and geography.

The river is also tied to imperial history-the Yellow Emperor's mausoleum built 5,000 years ago; the ruins of the Xia and Shang dynasties (c. 21st century-11th century BC); the Terracotta Warriors of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC); the capital of the Han (206 BC-AD 220) and Tang (618-907) dynasties in Xi'an; the capital, Kaifeng, in the Song Dynasty (960-1279); and the cities of the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911).

Zhong's former student gave up the opportunity to work in a big city and returned to her hometown in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, through which the Yellow River flows. The young woman's father had planted trees to control desertification, and she wanted to continue this work.

Zhong once flew over parts of the river in a helicopter to get a bigger-picture view.

"People are nurtured by the Yellow River. They use its resources and try to protect it," she said.

"We've dredged the river, reclaimed farmlands and restored them as grasslands."

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