A dragon boat race will be held on Suzhou River, once stinking for 80 years, in this largest metropolis and industrial base of east China.
Organizers here say nine dragon-boat teams from across China will compete in the 250-meter and 500-meter race, which is scheduled for September 16.
"Suzhou River is a showcase of Shanghai's efforts to control pollution and improve environment," said an official, "That's why it is chosen as the venue for the race."
The 125-kilometer long Suzhou River that streams past the city proper was once a clean river where weevers abounded. However, the city's industrialization since the 1920s turned the river into a stinking pool for the past 80 years.
Starting from 1996, the Shanghai Municipal government has injected over 20 billion yuan (2.4 billion U.S. dollars) to control pollution and improve the water quality of the Suzhou River, and the efforts have paid off.
Last year, the river stopped stinking, and citizens found fish in the river for the first time since the 1980s.
The venues selected for the forthcoming dragon-boat race are wide and straight waterways divided into three lanes, with green belts, colorful cobblestone-paved paths, fountains, pavilions and statues dotting both sides.
"It's more than a simple race," said an official in charge of the city's tourism, "More importantly, the citizens will see for themselves the changes in the river, and in Shanghai's environment. "
Dragon-boat race is a traditional Chinese sport to commemorate the Chinese patriotic poet Qu Yuan who lived in the Kingdom Chu more than 2000 years ago.
(People’s Daily 08/29/2001)