What is China’s Sorrow?

Hwang Ho, or the Yellow River, is popularly known as China’s Sorrow because of its devastating floods. This remarkable stream is one of the largest rivers in the world and is the second largest in China, being second only to the Yangtze. It has its sources in Tibet and meanders 2,700 miles through northern China. Yellow River is merely a- literal translation of Chinese twang (“yellow”), and ho (“river”). The stream was so named from the fact that the water has a yellowish color owing to the presence of muddy earth in solution. Enormous quantities of infinitesimal particles of silt, known to geologists as loess, are blown by the wind into the upper reaches of the stream from the Gobi Desert country. In flood times this material may constitute as high as eighteen per cent of the volume of water. The Yellow Sea into which the Yellow River flows also has the same yellowish hue. The Chinese call the sea Hwang Hai, literally “Yellow Sea,” hai being Chinese for “sea.” China’s Sorrow, also called The Ungovernable and the Scourge of the Sons of Han, is especially destructive because it not -only overflows its banks but also changes its entire lower course. It has completely altered its outlet a dozen times or more in the last four thousand years. Silt from the loess country continually raises the bed of the river and necessitates the construction of higher and higher dikes and levees. At some points the river is more than sixty feet above the neighboring country, and embankments designed -to prevent floods actually contribute to the hazard. In 1852 the Yellow River shifted its mouth from the Bay of Haichow south of the Shantung peninsula to its ancient mouth in the Gulf of Chihli, a distance of some four hundred miles. At that time the one thousand-mile canal built by a thirteenth century emperor to connect the Hwang Ho with the Yangtze Kiang was destroyed. Owing to the swiftness of its current the Hwang Ho is almost useless for the navigation of large vessels and consequently there are few large cities on its banks.

2 thoughts on “What is China’s Sorrow?”

  1. unm i just wanted to say that “ho” is not river “he” is. I dont know what ho is and i know this cuz im chinese.

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