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Relaunching the Grand Canal city of Yangzhou

Reporter: Julian Waghann 丨 CCTV.com

08-17-2014 19:02 BJT

A group of international fashion models were in the ancient Chinese city of Yangzhou last week as global ambassadors, celebrating and promoting the Grand Canal's new status as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
 
The group comprised 20 fashion models in porcelain blue, symbolizing the precious cargo that used to be shipped in and out of Yangzhou.

A group of Global Ambassadors for the Grand Canal

A group of Global Ambassadors for the Grand Canal

They came from all corners of the world, from Russia, Poland, Greece, the Philippines and China. Their aim is to get the world reacquainted with Yangzhou.

Yangzhou has a history of 2,500 years. It used to be the richest city in China, a major trade and transportation hub, and the center of China's salt production.

Yangzhou became prosperous with its salt monopoly. And during the Tang Dynasty, more than a thousand years ago, the city provided almost half the empire's entire tax revenue.

The city lies at a strategic position along the Grand Canal. And for centuries, merchants and visitors came from near and far along China's Grand Canal, to roam the narrow streets of Yangzhou.

With the Canal now listed as a World Heritage Site, Yangzhou is looking to capitalize and revitalize itself.

A group of Global Ambassadors for the Grand Canal

Global Ambassadors for the Grand Canal

"This year, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage is going to improve the monitoring and management of the Grand Canal at multiple sites. This will further help with the protection of the Grand Canal. A new Yangzhou Grand Canal Protection book and map are in the works right now, and they'll reflect the new preservation policies of the canal as a world cultural heritage site. Residents will continue to see improvements in water quality, as well as new roads and lighting along the canal," said Jiang Shili, deputy director of Grand Canal Nomination Office.

As well as being an important transport hub, Yangzhou was once one of China's cultural capitals. Opera thrived here, an early precursor of Beijing opera. The city's jade, lacquerwear and paper-cutting all had their own unique styles.

There is no cargo on the canal now, but the city's artistic culture lives on.

The Grand Canal made Yangzhou a prosperous city and an important cultural hub in China in its heydays. Today, with the Grand Canal as a World Culture Heritage site, Yangzhou is a now a city on the world map, but how can the locals benefit from it?

The old streets are now filled with small souvenir shops, boutiques and restaurants. Store owners say they have already seen a difference since the Grand Canal gained its new status.

Local residents also say they are enjoying the renewed interest in their city.

A group of Global Ambassadors for the Grand Canal

A group of Global Ambassadors for the Grand Canal

A group of Global Ambassadors for the Grand Canal

A group of Global Ambassadors for the Grand Canal



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