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China has been an agriculture-based country since ancient times. The stable development of agricultural economy is the foundation of social stability and the livelihood of the masses, as well as the basis for imperial regime and its financial income. It is in this connection that the imperial governments over the ages had pooled a large number of experts and a tremendous amount of resources into the enterprises of river regulation and water conservancy, expecting to stabilize agricultural production and national economy, so as to maintain social order and stability. After occupying the central plains, the Manchus extended the economic tradition of agriculture-based economy of previous dynasties. As it continued to absorb the flood control experiences of its predecessors, the Qing government was able to develop more mature knowledge of flood control, as well as innovated and improved techniques in disaster prevention and river engineering.

River engineering is a general term for government-initiated projects in regulating river courses, such as the construction of dams, the excavation of irrigation channels, the reinforcement of dikes, and river dredging. The infrastructures to be constructed would include dams, dikes, fascines, gates, culverts, slopes, and life-saving piles. As for maintenance, the infrastructures would undergo minor repair every three years, medium repair every five years, and major repair every ten years. Routine maintenance was implemented on an annual basis as well. Moreover, urgent repair would be made in case of emergency.

The National Palace Museum is home to a rich collection of Qing cartographical and archival materials generated for purposes of river engineering. Apart from such written records on the regulation of the Yellow River, the Huai River and the Canal, as well as those addressing the dredging of the Hongze Lake and the construction of the Qiantang River, the collection features many fine engineering drawings specifically made by local governors to accompany their reports to the emperors on the process of river engineering. Intended in the past for the exclusive review by the emperors, these materials are now showcased in the present exhibition to allow the audiences an opportunity to get to know the important achievements of the Qing dynasty in river regulating and engineering.

The presentation is made up of three sections: "Famous Rivers and Lakes," "Measures in River Regulation," and "Famous Governors in River Regulation." The first section focuses on the locales of waterways, and on view are the maps of the courses of the Yellow River, the Huai River, and the Canal, as well as the Hongze Lake, the junction between the Yellow and the Huai Rivers where regulating measures were implemented during the Qing dynasty, and the Qiantang River in the province of Zhejiang, so as to present an overview of the landforms of famous rivers and lakes of the Qing. The second section focuses on events, and several instances of river regulation of the Qing dynasty were highlighted to illustrate the regulating strategies brought up by Qing emperors and officials when facing river floods. The third section focuses on individuals, introducing famous governors who successfully implemented river regulation measures in the Qing Dynasty, so that the visitors may recognize their contributions to river engineering and their efforts in advancing flood control techniques.