In the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), Italian merchant and explorer Marco Polo, then just 17, came to China with his father and uncle via the Silk Road.
He lived in China for 17 years and traveled to 57 cities, including Beijing, Hangzhou and Yangzhou.
The cities are recorded in detail in the newly released book "Travels of Marco Polo," which describes the civilization and prosperity of Chinese cities, mostly related to the Grand Canal of China.
The Grand Canal was then an important channel for world trade, transport and cultural exchanges, and it has left an indelible mark on the history of Chinese society.
In November last year, the Yangzhou government held the Sino-German Business Cooperation and Yangzhou Food Appreciation Conference in Shanghai.
In her speech, Dr Christine Althauser, the German consul general in Shanghai, said Marco Polo was a friendly envoy of cultural exchanges between the East and the West. Europe learned about ancient Chinese civilization from his travelogue, which aroused Europeans' yearning for the mysterious Orient.
Yangzhou has the only Marco Polo Memorial Hall in China, and it attracts many Western tourists every year.
To share Chinese culture with the world and tell the stories of the Grand Canal, Yangzhou is holding a "Marco Polo Cup" essay competition. Articles that highlight the role of the Grand Canal in social development, urban construction, cultural exchanges, transport and irrigation, people's livelihoods and ecological environment are welcome.
Articles must be original and unpublished, in Chinese or English. Images and photos are encouraged, and the word limit is between 1,000 and 5,000 words.
When submitting entries to email@example.com, label them "Marco Polo Cup" and provide author's name, nationality and contact information.
There's no entry fee but articles cannon be returned. The organizer has the copyright of editing and publishing, and can make necessary amendments.
First prize winners will be given 50,000 yuan ($7,747.7) each, with 10,000 yuan for second prize and 5,000 yuan for third prize.
The deadline for submissions is the end of July. The winners will be announced in September.