Meaning of PIEN CANAL in English

Wade-Giles romanization Pien Ho, Pinyin Bian He canal running northwest-southeast through Honan, Anhwei, and Kiangsu provinces of China. In medieval times the name was given to several different canals that connected the Huang Ho (Yellow River), north of Cheng-chou in Honan, with the Huai River, and thus via the old-established Shan-yang Canal to the Yangtze River at Yang-chou, in Kiangsu. The terrain in the region is so flat and the drainage system so impermanent that no major engineering works were involved, apart from the manpower needed to excavate new channels. The canals made considerable use of existing waterways, which were widened, linked, and canalized. The eastern section of the canal, from the Huang Ho to the region of modern K'ai-feng (Honan), was constructed as early as Han times (206 BCAD 220), possibly before, and was known as the Lang-tang Canal. The Han Canal, known in later times as the Old Pien Canal, ran southeastward from K'ai-feng as far as modern Shang-ch'iu (Honan) and then ran eastward to pass through the gap in the southward spur of the Shantung Hills at modern Suchow in Kiangsu. There it joined the Ssu River, which flows into the Huai River above Ch'ing-chiang (Kiangsu). The New Pien Canal was built in 605 by the emperor Sui Yang Ti of the Sui dynasty (581618). It followed the old canal as far as Shang-ch'iu (Honan) but then flowed southeastward through Yung-ch'eng (Honan) and Su-hsien (Anhwei) to Ssu-hung (Kiangsu), where it joined the Huai above Hung-tse Lake in Kiangsu, which was very much smaller in the 7th century. The New Pien Canal was constructed on a much larger scale than its predecessors. The whole length of the canal was followed by a post road and lined with willow trees; the canal itself had regular anchorages and guard stations. A million corve labourers were mustered for its construction and worked under terrible conditions, leaving a legacy of disaffection with the Sui government. In 610, with the construction of the Yung-chi Canal, joining the Huang Ho to the region of modern Peking, there was a direct transport link from the Yangtze River basin to the north of the North China Plain. As it grew increasingly dependent upon revenue and grain supplies from the Huai and Yangtze region, the T'ang dynasty (618907) developed this canal system still further during the 8th century. Under the Pei (Northern) Sung (9601127), when the capital was moved to K'ai-feng, the canal became even more important, and by the 11th century the volume of traffic on it was probably about three times that in T'ang times. In the early 12th century, however, with the division of China between the Juchen (Chin; 11151234) in the north and the Southern Sung (11271279) in the south, the canal was abandoned. When, under the Mongols (12061368) and the Ming dynasty (13681644), the unity of the empire was restored, the political centre was transferred to Peking (known to the Mongols as Ta-tu) and a totally new north-south canalthe Grand Canalwas built. The old east-west link between the Huang Ho and the Huai River lost its importance. In the late 1960s, however, a New Pien Canal was constructed, as a part of the water-conservancy project for the Huai River basin. The New Pien Canal scheme was initiated in 1966 and completed in 1970, with 450,000 labourers working on it for four successive years. Altogether some 155 miles (250 km) long, it takes the canalized upper waters of the Tuo and Kuo rivers, via the canalized course of the Sui-dynasty New Pien Canal, through a new channel 85 miles (136 km) long, roughly following the course of the T'ang-period Pien Canal, through Ling-pi (Anhwei), Ssu-hsien, and Ssu-hung, and thus into the Hung-tse Lake. Although designed as a flood-control project, the canal also provides transport facilities for the area on the borders of Honan, Anhwei, and Kiangsu and is used for irrigation.

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