CHINA HERITAGE QUARTERLY China Heritage Project, The Australian National University ISSN 1833-8461
No. 28, December 2011


Redesigning the Lake: a Chronology (2001-2011) | China Heritage Quarterly

Redesigning the Lake: a Chronology (2001-2011)

This outline chronology offers an overview of official efforts during the last ten years to redesign West Lake. It also notes dates, events and historical figures that feature in this issue of China Heritage Quarterly. Links to the relevant items (marked [⇒]) are provided throughout the text. Click here to see the full chronology.—The Editor

West Lake Redesigned, 2001-2011

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Fig.1 Recasting West Lake: 'Lively in the South' (南旺). (Source: tourist pamphlet)

Fig.2 Recasting West Lake: 'Tranquil in the West' (西幽). (Source: tourist pamphlet)

6 September 2001, a meeting of the Hangzhou municipal government approves the 'West Lake Westward Expansion' (Xihu xijin 西湖西进) plan proposed by Zhang Jianting 張建庭 and his colleagues. Ten projects along the southern edge of the lake are given priority

July 2001, work on rebuilding the Academy of Ten-thousand Pines (Wansong Shuyuan 萬松書院) to the south of West Lake commences. A temple during Tang period it became a major academy in 1498 during the Ming. Various noted Confucian scholars lectured there; it is also noted for its association with the famous Qing poet Yuan Mei (袁枚, 1716-97), a native of Qiantang

2002-2004, an overall strategy approved and realized with the aim of creating a West Lake scenic zone that is 'busy in the East; lively in the South; tranquil in the West; refined in the North and stunning in the Centre' (dong re nan wang xi you bei ya zhong liang 東熱南旺西幽北雅中靚)

1 February 2002, the Ninth Party Congress of the Hangzhou Municipality is held and during the meeting plans for the redevelopment of West Lake are approved. Thereafter, the West Lake South Periphery Integration Project (Xihu nanxian zhenghe gongcheng 西湖南线整合工程) is launched. It covers an area of over fifty hectares, and some twenty-seven per cent of the road surface area around the lake. The project joins the disparate major parks long the eastern and southern shores of the lake, eliminated entry fees and ticket sales to create the 'Lake Scenic Belt' (shili huanhu jingguandai 十里環湖景觀帶). It is argued that this gives contemporary expression to the old saying that West Lake is 'misty hills on three sides with a city on the fourth' (san mian yunshan yi mian cheng 三面雲山一面城).
As a result during 2002, the 'South Line' of West Lake is constructed joining up all of the lakeside parks and walkways on the east and southern shores of the lake (including the Liulang 柳浪, Yongjin 涌金, Ertong 兒童 and Changqiao 長橋 parks). During this year Qingzhao Pavilion (Qingzhao Ting 清照亭) is built near Qingbo Gate (Qingbo Men 清波門) to commemorate the poet Li Qingzhao (李清照, 1084-1155) of the Southern Song. An couplet at the pavilion reads: 清高才女,流離詞客;照灼文壇,點染湖風.

29 September, electric tourist buses that circle West Lake are introduced. A round trip is 13.5 kilometres

1 October, the 'South Line' is opened to the public and during the National Day holiday 1.29 million tourists visit

28 December, construction work starts on a traffic tunnel along the eastern littoral of the Lake. This and other new tunnels opened to the public the following year

2003, work commences on creating the Master Yang Causeway (Yang Gong Di 楊公堤) along with new scenes of West Lake. At Meijia Wu 梅家塢, the home of Dragon Well tea, a memorial to Premier Zhou Enlai is built in acknowledgement of his contributions to West Lake and the local tea industry.

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Fig.3&4 Recasting West Lake: 'Refined in the North' (北雅). (Source: tourist pamphlet)

Construction of the Master Yang Causeway involves relocating over 150 households and work units and the demolition of numerous structures, but eventually it increases the expanse of the Lake by one sixth, to 6.4 square kilometres. This is approximately the size it was in the late-Kangxi reign period three hundred years earlier.

This year the Qian Family Temple (Qian ci 錢祠) located on the eastern shore of West Lake is opened to the public. The temple, which is primarily a museum, commemorates the founders of Hangzhou, and Qian Liu, the King of Wu-Yue who attempted to tame the tidal bore. The first temple celebrating the Qian family was built in the Northern Song. Also in 2003 the despised Beauty-Phoenix at West Lake Park One is replace by a large stone inscribed with the words 'Hangzhou West Lake' in the hand of the Qianlong emperor

30 March, 'Impression West Lake' (Yinxiang Xihu 印象西湖) a Las Vegas-esque song and dance extravaganza directed by the film-maker Zhang Yimou 張藝謀 starts a season in the northwest corner of West Lake

April, work on 'West Lake World' (Xihu Tiandi 西湖天地) designed by international consultants is complete. This dining and entertainment zone on the eastern shore of West Lake between the old Yongjin Gate and the Dahua Hotel was previously a walled compound occupied by party-state officials. Many of their large private homes are converted into restaurants and cafes, including Starbucks and Haagen Daaz outlets

8 September, musical fountains are start operating off the eastern shore of West Lake. The feature Chinese show tunes and a light display

10 September, various statues positioned in the Lake parks are unveiled. They include a statue of Marco Polo. Another statue set up in 1954 to commemorate China's support for Korea against the United States remains in situ

Fig.5 Recasting West Lake: 'Stunning in the Centre' (中靚). (Source: tourist pamphlet)

2004, the 'North Line' of West Lake is completed, including Bei Shan Road and fifteen historical and cultural properties. Also in this year, Wu Song's Tomb (Wu Song mu 武松墓) near to Xiling Bridge built in 1924 and demolished in 1964 is rebuilt with reference to old photographs. At this time the courtesan Su Xiaoxiao's tomb and the Pavilion of Admired Talent are also restored

2005, the plan to refurbish the Two Causeways and Three Islands (Liang di san dao 兩堤三島;兩堤:蘇堤、白堤;三島:小瀛洲、湖心亭、阮公墩) is completed, as is the building of the West Lake Museum

2006, the Six Scenes of Dragon Well (Long Jing Liu Jing 龍井六景) are completed. Also this year, following various investigations it is decided to reintroduce 'Boat Girls' (chuanniang 船娘) to act as guides to the Lake for visitors willing to pay the tariff. Twenty young women are employed who are supposed to be able to speak about the Lake and its history in Chinese and three foreign languages

20 May, Master Ji whose tome is at Running Tiger Spring is listed as part of West Lake's intangible cultural heritage

27 August 2007, following an involved process of popular nomination and expert consultation, another set of 'New Ten Scenes of West Lake' (Xihu Xin Shijing 西湖新十景) are announced at the Ninth West Lake Expo. They are: 靈隱禪蹤、 六和聽濤、岳墓棲霞、 湖濱晴雨、 錢祠表忠,萬松書緣、楊堤景行、 三台雲水、 梅塢春早、 北街夢尋 (or, in simplified characters: 灵隐禅踪、 六和听涛、岳墓栖霞、 湖滨晴雨、 钱祠表忠,万松书缘、杨堤景行、 三台云水、 梅坞春早、 北街梦寻).

17 November 2008, following successful appeals to Chinese Party leaders John Leighton Stuart's ashes are buried in Hangzhou, forty-six years after his death. He had wished to be interred on the campus of Yenching University (now Peking University), which he established

24 June 2011, West Lake is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as the 'West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou, comprising the West Lake and the hills surrounding its three sides' [⇒]