Ban Gioc–Detian Falls
Ban Gioc – Detian Falls (Vietnamese: thác Bản Giốc, Chinese: Détiān pùbù, Bǎnyuē pùbù 板約瀑布, 德天瀑布) is a collective name for two waterfalls on the Quây Sơn River (Chinese: Guichun River, 归春河), that straddle the international border between China and Vietnam; more specifically located between the Karst hills of Daxin County, Guangxi, and Trùng Khánh District, Cao Bằng Province. The waterfall is 272 km (169 mi) north of Hanoi.[Ref 1]
Over thousands of years the waterfall has eroded its crest and slowly moved upstream. It currently appears to be two waterfalls most of the time but when the river is swollen due to summer rains can form one fall again.
In Vietnamese, the two falls are considered as two parts of one waterfall with the sole name Bản Giốc. The two parts are thác chính (Main waterfall) and thác phụ (Subordinate waterfall). Chinese texts sometimes name both falls from the Détiān falls on the Chinese side.
The waterfall drops 30 m (98 ft). It is separated into three falls by rocks and trees, and the thundering effect of the water hitting the cliffs can be heard from afar.[Ref 2]
It is currently the 4th largest waterfall along a national border, after Iguazu Falls, Victoria Falls, and Niagara Falls. Somewhat nearby is the 1000m long by 200m wide Tongling Gorge (tōng líng dà xiá gǔ 通灵大峡谷 "Tongling Grand Canyon") in Jingxi County (jìng xī xiàn 靖西县), Baise City (bǎi sè shì 百色市) of Guangxi, accessible only through a cavern from an adjoining gorge. Rediscovered only recently, it has many species of endemic plants, found only in the gorge.
The waterfalls are located in an area of mature karst formations where the original limestone bedrock layers are being eroded. Numerous streams spring from underground fissures along the lower levels of the area. The waterfalls have multiple drops, from bedrock layer to layer, which shows the multiple depositions of sediments of different hardness which formed the terrain over millions of years.
The river has been a natural demarcation between tribes, clans and peoples since prehistory. As modern civilization has increased in complexity, the river and the waterfall have historically been used as the boundary between two ancient provinces and after the independence of Annam, as an international border. The Qing Empire and French Indochina more exactly determined the border following their treaty in the 19th century. Where the river was chosen as the border, the international standard of using the center of the watercourse defined the extent of each empire. In addition 500 markers were placed along the land border. Following the 1999 treaty between the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the People's Republic of China, over 1000 additional markers were placed and more accurate measurements were made. Ban Gioc–Detian Falls have been a landmark and their complete posssession has interested dictatorial regimes. Confident governments have by treaty shared the beauty and harmony of the waterfall.
Impact on industry and commerce
The waterfalls increase the quality of life for people who live within the sound of the falls. A road running along the top of the falls leads to a stone marker that demarcates the border between China and Vietnam in French and Chinese. 20th century disputes could not be resolved where inaccuracies in documents, maps and descriptions that were made in the 19th century became difficult to universally comprehend. The disappearance or inaccurate replacement of markers and landmarks from time to time, and the varied patterns of transportation, settlement and land use from generation to generation, and the successive administrative differences throughout periods of war and strife led to both Vietnam and China understanding that exactly defining the border would increase prosperity in the long term.[Ref 3]
Disputes regarding the border demarcation at this location were settled in 1999 Viet Nam-China Treaty on Land Borderline. Additional talks were held as late as 2009 to clarify the treaty. However, there are minor controversies regarding the border demarcation around the Falls that are generally caused by lack of knowledge about the particulars of the treaties and the international norms they comport with. Dating from the rhetoric of turbulent times, an old rumor is that the entirety of the falls belonged to Vietnam, and that the stone tablet had been moved there improperly some time during or after the brief Sino-Vietnamese war of 1979. Another false assertion was that the falls were not documented in any Chinese texts until recently; the falls have been described in various ways for thousands of years. To the southeast, the border dispute also along the Sino-Vietnamese border also included Nam Quan Gate (Ải Nam Quan) which some Vietnamese claimed as well. But the official Vietnamese expert diplomatic understanding was that the border was south of the gate at a missing border marker. Historically, Nam Quan Gate served as the entry point between Vietnam & China, and gained a local perception that it was also the border demarcation (hence there's also a Vietnamese historical saying from after the unification of French Indochina, that Vietnam stretched from Cape Cà Mau to Ải Nam Quan).
The commercial focus of the area directly around the falls will likely remain tourism.
There are two directional aspects to transport at a waterfall: (1) portage along the river's course; and (2) fording or rafting across the river. Ban Gioc–Detian Falls was one of the crossing points for the Chinese Red Army during the brief Sino-Vietnamese War. Rafts are currently used to boat tourists closer to the falls and return them to their dock of origination.
Preservation of the resource may require future cooperation between the local communities by use of a perpetual joint oversight committee.
Movies and television
A number of Chinese movies of various genres have used the waterfalls for location shots, on-location sets for action sequences, and romantic backgrounds. Many popular movie stars photographs, poster artwork and personal copies of the films can be purchased from concessionaires near the waterfalls.
There have been some songs written about the waterfall.
There have been a number of pen and ink drawings of the falls from both the Vietnam and Chinese viewpoints. Some of the earliest were made when the area was part of one large province under an early Chinese dynasty.
The few Western tourists who have visited the falls enjoy the natural views and sounds. The waterfalls are visited by many people from China and Vietnam every year, being a shared natural treasure. The preferred Vietnam route is via Hanoi. The preferred China route is via Jingxi County. Many people have had enjoyable visits which they have recounted.
- "Vietnam Destinations: Ban Gioc (Cao Bang)". Archived from the original on 17 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-12.
- "Cao Bang - the land of mountains and water". Retrieved 2007-02-13.
- Vietnamese Embassy: On the settlement of Vietnam-China border issue vietnamembassy-usa.org
- 韩欣 中国名水 (Han Xin, Famous Waters of China) 2005 Volume 2 "德天瀑布位于广西南宁地区边陲大新县,在中越边境交界处.归春河上游,瀑布气势磅薄、银瀑飞泻.三级跌落,蔚为 ... 夏季,德天瀑布和板约瀑布会连在一起,应该是整个德天风景区一道最为奇特的景观。它们浩浩荡荡地飞奔而下,像是凭空而降的一支巨大的 ..."
- "Top 10 most beautiful Chinese waterfalls". China Central Television. Retrieved 2011-11-12.
- Vietnam and China's land demarcation itinerary
- The implementation of Vietnam-China land border treaty: bilateral and regional implications. Do Thi Thuy 5/3/2009 PDF
- Han Nam Quan 3 (English)
- "In Westminster, an Internet Bid to Restore Viet Land" Los Angeles Times
- Interview On Territory And Territorial Waters - General
- Asia Finest Discussion Forum > Ai Nam Quan - An example of communist sellout of Motherland
- https://catbirdinchina.wordpress.com/category/asia/china/guangxi-zhuang-autonomous-region/detian-waterfall/guichun-river/ Catbird in China: Detian Waterfall
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