Nation leads the way on heritage protection

By XU WEI | China Daily | Updated: 2022-08-04 08:34
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Murals are copied at the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang, Gansu province. CHEN BIN/DU ZHEYU/XINHUA

Greater emphasis

Over the past decade, Xi has issued more than 100 important instructions on protecting cultural relics. He has also presided over a series of top leadership meetings called to deliberate on key policy documents aimed at safeguarding cultural heritage.

"Historic culture is the soul of a city, and we must protect the historic and cultural heritage of a city in the same way that we cherish our own lives," Xi told officials in Beijing during a fact-finding trip in 2014.

He highlighted the need for the city, one of the world's ancient capitals, to ensure the sound preservation of its rich cultural heritage during the urban development process.

As part of the city's overall plan up to 2035, which was issued in 2016, the capital will no longer tear down its old urban areas and hutong, or alleyways, and give greater priority to the preservation and rejuvenation of ancient towns.

In February, Li Qun, head of the National Cultural Heritage Administration, wrote in an article that China has placed unprecedented policy emphasis on boosting the protection and use of cultural relics and enabling various sides to play a part in conserving cultural heritage.

He said the heightened policy emphasis has helped the nation better learn about the origins, development and achievements of Chinese civilization and the contributions made by the nation to humankind.

According to the National Cultural Heritage Administration, the number of museums in China reached 6,183 this year, a rise of 60 percent on the total in 2012. The number of cultural heritage items placed under State protection has more than doubled since 2012, with the nation adding eight world cultural heritage sites during this period.

The central government has allocated funding of more than 100 billion yuan over the past decade as part of broader efforts to improve cultural heritage protection.

China now boasts nearly 767,000 immovable cultural heritage sites, 56 world cultural heritage venues and 36 national archaeological parks.

Fan Jinshi, an 81-year-old archaeologist who has devoted her life's work to studying the ancient Dunhuang culture, has met with President Xi five times.

The president first greeted her in 2013 at a meeting honoring role models, where he immediately recognized Fan and described her as an expert on Dunhuang cultural studies.

Dunhuang, home to the Mogao Grottoes UNESCO World Heritage Site in Gansu, was the first stop on Xi's four-day trip to the province in August 2019, when he visited an exhibition of cultural relics and academic works, and presided over a symposium with experts from the Dunhuang Academy.

He encouraged scholars, including Fan, to explore the philosophy, humanistic spirit, values and ethnic codes of Dunhuang culture and reveal the cultural spirit of the Chinese nation.

In an interview with People's Daily, Fan said researchers at the Dunhuang Academy were overjoyed by Xi's visit. The president told them that preserving cultural relics in Dunhuang and researching them would require lifelong efforts, and he hoped the researchers would view their work as a long-term career.

Xu Subin, deputy director of the International Research Center for Chinese Cultural Heritage Conservation at Tianjin University, said the nation is now among the leading countries in terms of the emphasis it places on preserving cultural heritage.

The significance given to this issue by the top leadership has boosted the morale of those involved in safeguarding and researching cultural heritage, she said.

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