BEIJING, May 22 (Xinhua) -- Chinese experts have called for prudence and coordination in protecting and developing the heritage of the Grand Canal, the world's longest man-made waterway.
According to a plan issued in February by the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, a cultural belt will be built along the canal's existing main river course and those used in recent history.
Wu Xiaohua, deputy head of the team that compiled the plan, said implementation should be firmly based on the concept of respecting, complying with and protecting nature.
"Efforts should be made to gradually improve water conditions of the river course after a long-term pre-phase deliberation. We must make coordinated efforts to avoid drastically changing the current water and navigation capabilities," said Wu, also deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Macroeconomic Research.
He also called for strict control on industries and industrial capacities that have negative environmental impacts along the Grand Canal.
"We should also promote the integrated development of culture and tourism based on the canal's unique cultural and tourist resources and its well-developed water and land transportation," Wu said.
Fan Zhou, director of the Culture Development Institute of the Communication University of China, said promoting culture and tourism should focus on the uniqueness of the canal culture while offering more diversified and tailored tourist services and improving infrastructure.
A smooth mechanism for coordination is also key to the work, said Wu, urging to step up coordination at the national level and establish a multi-regional and multi-sectoral coordinating mechanism.
The eight provinces and municipalities along the canal are among the most economically developed and urbanized areas of China.
Accounting for less than 10 percent of the national total land area, they held over one-third of the country's overall population and contributed nearly 45 percent to China's economy in 2017.
The Grand Canal is almost 3,200 km long in total, including the one stretching from Beijing to Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province. It has a history of more than 2,500 years. Over 1,000 km of the canal was recognized as a world heritage site in 2014.