Qiantang River

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Qiantang River
Qiantang River Bridge.JPG
Simplified Chinese钱塘
Traditional Chinese錢塘
PostalTsientang River
Literal meaningRiver of King Qian's Dyke
The Liuhe Pagoda built in 1165 on the Yuelun Hill in Hangzhou during the Song Dynasty faces the Qiantang River.

The Qiantang River is a river in East China. An important commercial artery, it runs for 459 kilometers (285 mi) through Zhejiang, passing through the provincial capital Hangzhou before flowing into the East China Sea via Hangzhou Bay.

Names and Etymology[edit]

Its upper stretch near the AnhuiJiangxi border is also known as the Xin'an River (新安, "Newly Peaceful"); its middle stretch through the mountains of Zhejiang is also known as the Fuchun River (富春江, "Abundant Spring River"); and the former name of its lower stretch—the Zhe () or Crooked River—gave Zhejiang Province its name.[1]

Historically, it was first documented in the Classic of Mountains and Seas(山海经) as Zhejiang River(浙江), later in Zhuangzi(庄子)as Zhe River(淛河), and in the Water Classic(水经) as Jianjiang River(漸江水). All those names probably originate from the language of extinct Baiyue peoples.[2] In the early 18th century, the Kangxi Dictionary(康熙字典) regarded Zhejiang River(浙江) as Crooked River for its crooked lower stretch and countercurrent tidal bore.[3]

The origin of its current name, the Qiantang River(钱塘江), literally the River of King Qian's Dyke, however, has nothing to do with the King Qian of Wuyue. It previously referred to the lower stretch within the Qiantang County(钱唐县, former name of Hangzhou City) and later in the 20th century began referring to all stretches of the river.[4]


It was linked by the Eastern Zhejiang Canal to Shaoxing during the Spring and Autumn Period and to Ningbo's Yong River during the Three Kingdoms Period. It was linked by the Grand Canal to Beijing during the Sui Dynasty. Its present name derives from a major dyke constructed near Hangzhou by the Tang warlord Qian Liu, who established the Wuyue Kingdom in the early 10th century.[5]

Tidal bore[edit]

King Qian Liu shooting the tidal bore
Tidal bore at the Qiantang River

The river and Hangzhou Bay are known for the world's largest tidal bore. The oldest known tide table (AD 1056) is for the Qiantang River and may have aided ancient travellers wishing to see the famous tidal bore.[6] The tide rushing into the river mouth from the bay causes a bore which can reach up to 9 metres (30 ft) in height, and travel at up to 40 km per hour (25 miles an hour). Known locally as the Silver (or Black) Dragon, the wave sweeps past Hangzhou, menacing shipping in the harbor.

In August 2013, the tidal bore turned out stronger than expected due to Typhoon Trami, reaching more than twice its usual height as it broke on the flood barrier, sweeping it and injuring numerous spectators.

There have been attempts to surf the tidal bore. The first person to ride the Bore was Stuart Matthews from England. The 1988 record was 1.9 km by Stuart Matthews.[7] Then, in October 2007, a group of international surfers brought by Antony Colas, did several attempts, one wave being ridden continuously by French Patrick Audoy and Brazilian Eduardo Bagé for 1h10min, for 17 km. In September 2008 a group of American surfers convinced the Chinese government to allow them to surf a section of the river.[8]

In November 2013, Red Bull held the first surf competition on the river, called the Qiantang Shoot Out. The bore was considered the most unusual wave in the world for a surfing contest.[9]




  1. ^ Paul A. Cohen (2000). "Chiang Kai-Shek". The History. Columbia University Press. p. 71.
  2. ^ Li Daoyuan, Ye Yang, Chen Qiaoyi, Ye Guangting (2001). 水經注(八)江南諸水 [Commentary on the Water Classic(8):the Rivers to the South of the Yangtze] (in Chinese). Taipei: Wu-Nan Book Inc. p. 1727. ISBN 9789570414851.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ (清) 张玉书. (2015). 康熙字典. She hui ke xue wen xian chu ban she. ISBN 9787509770924. OCLC 1002846669.
  4. ^ 钱塘江志 (in Chinese). 方志出版社. 1998. ISBN 9787801222787.
  5. ^ Barmé, Germeie R. (2012), "Glossary: Tides Chao 潮", China Heritage Quarterly, No. 29, Australian National University College of Asia & the Pacific.
  6. ^ Zuosheng, Y.; Emery, K.O. & Yui, X. (1989). "Historical development and use of thousand-year-old tide-prediction tables". Limnology and Oceanography. 34 (5): 953–957. doi:10.4319/lo.1989.34.5.0953.
  7. ^ "Tsunami-Like River Tides Are Surfing's New Frontier". National Geographic. 2010-10-28. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
  8. ^ Cianciulli, Mike (2008-09-18). "China Surf Blog, Round Two: Final Day(s)". Surfline.com. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
  9. ^ "Surfing The Qiantang River in Hangzhou, China".


Coordinates: 30°22′46″N 120°41′20″E / 30.3794°N 120.6889°E / 30.3794; 120.6889