Protection of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, which stretches 1,794 km from north to south, should begin immediately, said Chinese political advisors.
"Along with the protection, we should strive to make the canal listed as a world heritage," said a proposal signed by 58 members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
The proposal, submitted to the ongoing annual session of the CPPCC National Committee, compares the significance of the Grand Canal to that of the Great Wall.
"There are two gigantic projects in China's ancient construction history: the Great Wall and the Grand Canal, which is the longest man-made canal in the world," said the proposal.
The canal began to be built more than 2,000 years ago and became a major north-south artery of traffic about 1,400 years ago, linking five natural rivers.
Liu Feng, a political advisory who first put forward the proposal, said that with drastic political, economic, cultural and social progress in China, the canal is a best witness to China's long history and civilization.
"As the canal's traditional role is being replaced by modern means of transportation, we need to start protection work immediately to prevent relevant relics, ecological conditions and natural scenes from disappearing quickly," said Liu.
As the canal passes through several administrative areas, the central government should coordinate the formation of an overall protection mechanism, he said.
"After protection work is done, we may apply for its world heritage status in five years," said the proposal.
(Xinhua News Agency March 12, 2006)