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Beijing's axis joins history to the future

By Cheng Yuezhu | China Daily | Updated: 2024-01-13 10:05
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Li Shan, a first prize winner at the competition's short video section, jumps on a hopscotch game she designed, themed on Beijing's Central Axis. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Competition inspires people of all ages to share their perspectives on the line that divides east and west in the capital's downtown, Cheng Yuezhu reports.

Nine-year-old Cheng Dede has lived in central Beijing all her life, and moved from just north of the Forbidden City to near the Drum Tower. Both are key heritage sites along Beijing's Central Axis, the core of Beijing that runs 7.8 kilometers from south to north.

Dede is passionate about traditional Chinese culture, including architecture, music and food.

So, when she saw a notice of the 2023 Competition for the Transmission and Promotion of the Beijing Central Axis, a contest calling for people of all ages to tell their stories about this part of Beijing's heritage, she thought she could give it a go.

While the Central Axis contains profound historical and cultural significance, she decided to simply tell the story of her own family and her perspective as an ordinary primary school student.

At the competition's award ceremony, hosted on Sunday at the Capital Museum in Beijing, Dede, along with her mother, grandmother and brother, gave a presentation that combined speech in both Chinese and English, a performance of hulusi (the cucurbit flute) and singing.

They told of connections with Beijing's Central Axis that span three generations, beginning with Dede's grandmother, who grew up in a small village in Jiangxi province and harbored a longing to see the Tian'anmen Square with her own eyes. Dede's mother fulfilled her wishes and came to study and work in Beijing. Now, Dede and her 6-year-old brother have been able to frequently visit the heritage sites for as long as they can remember.

"At school, I learned that my family has always lived near the Central Axis of Beijing, and the Central Axis is a physical corridor that connects history and the future," Dede says.

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