The China study【Is Overseas Relocation The Way to Salvage China’s Ancient Houses?】

发布时间:2020-03-26 来源: 幽默笑话 点击:

  A 200-year-old greater ancient teahouse called Cuipingju in Shitai County, Anhui Province, was scheduled to be sold to a Swedish businessman for 200,000 yuan, as the owner was financially overburdened for the routine maintenance of the property. But after intensive media coverage of the deal in early July, the local government immediately identified Cuipingju as a cultural relic and the sale was canceled.
  According to Xinhua News Agency, 63-year-old Li Yikun is the ninth generation of the Li family to have inherited Cuipingju. He said he did not want to sell the ancient building, but his family could not afford to maintain it at a cost of over 2,000 yuan each year.
  “In recent years, I’ve asked the government to evaluate the historical value of this house many times, but nobody ever bothered about it,” Li complained. “My family cannot afford the maintenance fee and the government did not provide money. Since there was a foreigner who wanted to buy, I could only sell it. Though I was loath to do that, it’s better than just helplessly watching it collapse.”
  Anhui, especially its southern part, used to be a thriving business area, so wealthy business people built many elegant buildings in the Chinese classical style, many of which remain. But some ancient buildings scattered in villages are now on the brink of collapse without funds for repairs, as they have not been listed as cultural relics suitable for protection.
  The Cuipingju case is not the first. Yinyutang, an ancient residential house formerly located in Huangcun Village, Xiuning County in Anhui, was sold to U.S. buyers after more than seven years of planning. In 1996, Nancy Berliner, now the Curator of Chinese Art and Culture at the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts, saw Yinyutang while traveling in south Anhui. The house stood empty, and on a return visit, she learned that it was for sale. Coincidentally, the Xiuning government was looking for a U.S. cultural institution with which to form a cultural exchange. By the fall of 1997, the Peabody Essex Museum had incorporated the relocation of Yinyutang into its expansion plans. More than $125 million was spent to transport the 700 wooden pieces, 8,500 bricks and tiles and 500 stone parts to the United States.
  Yinyutang was built in the 17th century by a rich businessman whose family name was Huang. Since that time, eight generations of Huang’s offspring lived there, according to Chu Xiaohua, Director of the Xiuning County Culture Bureau. Chu said that based on the prevailing standards, Yinyutang could not be listed as a cultural relic. So without funds for protection and maintenance, the building would eventually collapse if it were not sold.
  But recently, a local nongovernmental research institute raised about 10 million yuan and is planning to build a replica of Yinyutang on the site of the original house and also gradually repair all ancient buildings in the village.
  Some people argue that China does not have the capital and technology to protect all its cultural relics, and more seriously, that many Chinese don’t cherish their cultural heritage. As a result, they said it is apposite to hand over cultural relics to those who know how to cherish and protect them, even though they are foreigners. But opponents contend that Chinese have the responsibility to protect the things left by ancestors and should not hand them to foreigners.
  
  Beneficial for cultural relics
  
  Yan Lieshan (senior editor at Nanfang Daily): Because of media reports, the local government seemed to change its attitude all of a sudden. According to local officials who are responsible for protection of cultural relics, after authentication, the ancient house (Cuipingju) is a cultural relic with significant historical, artistic and scientific value that was not allowed to be sold freely by any organization, company or individual. But what about thousands of other ancient houses?
  It is said that China has not attached enough importance to the protection of ancient residential housing. The case in south Anhui is just an example. In quite a number of big cities, some ancient buildings of historical and cultural significance are not well preserved. For instance, some centuries-old hutongs and quadrangles in Beijing have been ruined to give place to luxury office and residential buildings.
  China is a country with 5,000 years of civilization and has many cultural relics more than 1,000 years old, not to mention those of 100 or 50 years old. So some officials do not take cultural relics seriously and they yearn for modernization, as symbolized by skyscrapers. I hope that our officials who have the right to dispose of cultural relics can realize the value of these traces of history and not sweep them away with the shovel of “modernization.”
  If we are not able to protect cultural relics, why not just sell them to foreigners instead of letting them run their course? As we all know, there is an eye-catching obelisk, 22.83 meters high, in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. The obelisk, carved with a funeral oration of the 13th century, came from Luxor. It was given by the viceroy of Egypt, Mohamed Ali, to acknowledge French archeologists’ contribution to solving the mystery of ancient Egyptian writing. Does the obelisk now only belong to France or Egypt? Actually it belongs to all human beings. This was its luck and also the luck of human civilization.
  If there is a foreigner who wants to buy and move some endangered hutongs or quadrangles in Beijing, I think it would be much better than watching them destroyed by bulldozers.
  Mu Yifei (resident of Wenling City, Zhejiang Province): It’s a pity that the ancient Anhui house cannot be sold to foreigners. I say this only because I really cherish this kind of cultural heritage.
  If Cuipingju were sold to Sweden as planned, an ancient Chinese house would be erected in the country. Isn’t that a good example to advertise Chinese civilization and raise China’s image?
  Of course, if these ancient houses can be well protected from now on, I also oppose rashly selling them to foreign countries. If the local government in Anhui can carefully maintain Cuipingju after preventing it from being sold to foreigners, I agree that we should protect it as a cultural relic. But the fact is, it’s easy to authenticate cultural relics but hard to protect them. Even in my city, a well-developed section of the coastal area in east Zhejiang Province, the government cannot provide the maintenance fee of over 100,000 yuan annually for a valuable cultural relic, not to mention Shitai, whose economy is not that developed.
  So, considering China’s national conditions, I hope that those ancient houses that have been neglected have the opportunity to be sold to foreign countries. Keeping them at home doesn’t necessarily mean loving them. That’s why I feel it’s a pity that Cuipingju failed to be sold as scheduled.
  Sincerely, I hope that in several years, the media will tell me that the ancient house, which was retained at home, has been well maintained. But I’m afraid that this ancient house, even with the tag of a cultural relic, may still remain unattended.
  Wan Yinghui (contributor to Times Business News): The fate of this ancient house is well worth pondering. We often hear late pledges of officials, like things left by our ancestors cannot be moved when a relocation project is about to be carried out. But we wonder: The ancient house has been standing there for so many years, why did the government just think of protecting it only when it was about to be sold to foreigners? After authentication, the ancient house has “historic, artistic and scientific value.” Why didn’t it draw any attention from related departments before?
  There is another question. Nobody felt regret for the damaged ancient houses there, but when some foreigners came to buy them, people became loath to sell. This is puzzling. Isn’t it better for an ancient house to be warmly welcomed by foreigners than to remain deserted?
  What’s wrong with selling the things you don’t really care about to foreigners? Under the original plan, Cuipingju would be moved to Sweden as a place for selling Anhui tealeaves. What a good idea!
  
  Do not move relics
  
  Jiang Yi (contributor to China Youth Daily): To move the ancient house or not has been widely debated. Some people believe that moving Cuipingju to Sweden would not damage the image of its hometown, but instead would help to develop local tourism and make the ancient Anhui culture and Chinese tea culture more known to the world.
  Is selling ancient buildings the only way to make the ancient Anhui culture and Chinese tea culture more known to the world? Maybe selling the ancient teahouse in Anhui to Sweden will help Swedes have a direct and visual understanding of the ancient Anhui culture in a short time, but in the long run selling ancient buildings is a short-sighted activity.
  The 200-year-old greater Cuipingju may not be old enough to be protected as a cultural relic, but in the entire ancient Anhui culture, it is undoubtedly an indispensable part. Without it, how can we talk about the history or memory of the ancient Anhui culture?
  We need to go abroad, but we also need to maintain our traditional cultural quintessence. Enhancing our reputation by selling ancient buildings will result in a loss of tradition. One day in the future, maybe our offspring will have to go to foreign countries to recall the ancient Anhui culture.
  Xi Xuchu (contributor to Yangcheng Evening News): It is our luck that our ancestors have left us a large heritage. But since we don’t know how to cherish these relics, many have disappeared or are disappearing. Once lost, this heritage can never be recovered. How many historic properties can be sold or damaged? When the historical culture is gradually taken out of the country and it finally becomes hollow, later generations can only look for history through printed words and paintings.
  Heqiyeletu (Director of the Museum of Ethnology of the Inner Mongolia University): There are fewer and fewer folk and cultural relics left in China. If we still let them go to foreign countries, we will have to study our own national culture in other countries. Isn’t it a tragedy for a nation?
  Related laws and regulations on the protection of cultural relics have to be improved immediately. Lax administration has become a major reason for the outflow of cultural relics. Some folk cultural relics are still being used today though they have existed for a long time, and some also have the characteristics of folk arts and crafts. As a result, it is hard to distinguish cultural relics from folk arts and crafts, daily utensils and production tools. Existing statutes do not contain specific stipulations on the definition and export of cultural relics. That’s why many folk cultural relics have been exported.
  
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  Editor: Zhang Zhiping

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