In the long history of the feudal society of China, Kaifeng played a vital role. During the Northern Song Dynasty, Kaifeng became a worldwide metropolis. The important reason was that the Grand Canal, which was excavated during the Sui Dynasty, became the main transportation artery for the political and military center of the north and the economic center of the south. Furthermore, Kaifeng was located at the center of the Grand Canal, which made it the capital of the later Northern Song Dynasty. The Northern Song Dynasty was called “the canal-centered era.” The development of the canal caused a series of major changes in the society of the Northern Song Dynasty that were different from the previous ones, which directly led to the transportation revolution, and in turn, promoted the commercial revolution and the urbanization of Kaifeng. The development of commerce contributed to the agricultural and money revolutions. After the Northern Song Dynasty, the political center moved to the south. During the Yuan Dynasty, the excavation of the Grand Canal made it so that water transport did not have to pass through the Central Plains. The relocation of the political center and the change in the canal route made Kaifeng lose the value of connecting the north and south, resulting in the long-time fall of the Bianhe River. Kaifeng, which had prospered for more than 100 years, declined gradually, and by the end of the Qing Dynasty, it became a common town in the Central Plains. In ancient China, the rise and fall of cities and regions were closely related to the canal, and the relationship between Kaifeng and the Grand Canal was typical. The history may provide some inspiration for the increasingly severe urban and regional sustainable development issues in contemporary times.
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