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4月15日环球时报英文版《Out with the old in with the fake 》

发表于 2012-4-18 12:54:00 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式

Out with the old in with the fake

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Global Times | April 15, 2012 21:08
By Liang Chen

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The reconstruction of Beijing’s Yongdingmen gate at the south end of the city’s central axis was completed in 2004. Photo: CFP
Even though Zhang Wei has spent the past decade pushing for the preservation of the remaining historic sites of old Beijing, he was not at all happy when the municipal government announced its largest restoration project aimed at reviving the majesty of the city's central axis.

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Six construction projects using iconic Chinese architecture are slated to begin this year, but Zhang believes the plan is poorly thought-out and is only designed to capitalize on local history and culture by luring tourists to the sites.

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Beijing has long been renowned for its ancient architectural wonders, but much of it has been lost in recent generations.  Its city wall, built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), was mostly demolished to make way for the Second Ring Road after the founding of the People's Republic of China partially in an attempt to wipe out remnants of the disgraced feudal past. More recently the city's drive for modernization has wrecked vast areas of the city's old downtown.

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目前城市规划是将新建筑“做旧”以弥补过去的错误的做法是行不通的。老北京网(oldbeijing.org)创建人张巍表示:“他们要建造的仿古建筑不是真正的历史文化古迹。老房子被毁,新建筑不可能如老房子般承载历史。” 他曾经用照片记录了北京城那些曾经布满了古色古香,由古代达官贵人居住的四合院而如今已经迅速消失的胡同。
Now the city plans to build new buildings that will look old, which Zhang says are attempted fixes for past failures that won't work. "They're building replicas that won't be cultural relics at all. The old buildings have been demolished, while the newly-built ones will carry no historical weight," said Zhang, who founded the website Old Beijing (oldbeijing.org) and has created a photographic record of the city's fast disappearing hutong, where many officials of the imperial court lived in quaint courtyard homes.

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The project is part of the city's ambitious plan to apply for recognition of its central axis as a UN World Cultural Heritage site.

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With an annual restoration budget of 1 billion yuan ($158.80 million) - almost as much as the city spent over the last 10 years combined - the rebuilding plan has caused a public outcry as many residents are questioning the lavish spending on "fake" cultural heritage.

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Reconstruction won't aid recognition

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The restoration plan announced by the municipal government in late February calls for six new construction projects mainly along the city's central axis, which runs through the heart of the capital and stretches 7.8 kilometers from the city gate known as Yongdingmen located in the south to the Bell Tower near the North Second Ring Road. It also includes new construction at the Forbidden City, the Imperial Ancestral Temple and Zhongnanhai, the former imperial garden that includes an inner-city lake.

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由清华大学建筑系教授吕周带领的专家组正在撰写联合国世界文化遗产认定的申请文件。Lü Zhou, a professor of architecture from Tsinghua University, is now heading an advisory group that will write the official application for recognition as a UN World Cultural Heritage site.

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Lü said the rebuilt gates won't be mentioned in the city's application.

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"The most important thing for designation as a world heritage site is to be faithful to history. It is just a replica after you rebuild it, as it is no longer what it was," Lü told the Global Times.

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"The rebuilding of the gates won't help the application," he said.

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The debate over if and how to replace the ancient city sites that have been lost has raged for decades.

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The local government and conservationists have been in disagreement for months over whether to rebuild the Di'anmen gate near the north end of the central axis. The gate was demolished in 1955, when the campaign to demolish the old city wall and gates was at its height.

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The plan has now been aborted after studies showed that rebuilding the towering city gate at its original location would create additional traffic chaos during construction.

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The rebuilding of old Beijing has earned the support of architects like Luo Zhewen, who believes the projects will allow "people today to experience the feel of the past."

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Many other experts, however, oppose the rebuilding plan.

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"We cannot go back to the old days anymore. The top priority of preservation of cultural heritage is not to make fake antiques, but to protect existing ones," Lü said.

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Restoration failures

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Over the past decade, the Beijing government has spent at least 1 billion yuan on restoration and renovation of historic architecture, but a number of projects never met expectations.

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The renovation of Qianmen Dajie, a traditional commercial street just south of Tiananmen Square was supposed to bring back traditional Beijing, but with sky-high rents mostly famous international brands, such as Starbucks, Zara, Haagen-Dazs and Rolex have opened shops in the area. The jaw-dropping rent of 30-60 yuan per square meter per day means few of Beijing's traditional brand stores can afford to open shop.

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In a push to revive the city's ancient glory, Beijing also rebuilt Yongdingmen in 2004, despite fierce debate among experts. The original gate had been demolished in 1957 and many experts felt the replica was but a poor imitation.

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Zhu Zixuan, a professor of architecture from Tsinghua University who participated in the rebuilding of the gate, said he has mixed feelings about the reconstruction even though the new gate appears to be an exact replica.

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"The new gate doesn't merge with the local environment, as it is surrounded by colossal structures, such as highway overpasses, which makes the gate look tiny and small. It's lost its magnificence," the 85-year-old architect told the Global Times, adding that the restoration came at too high a cost.

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"Residents around the area were relocated, and the community culture the gate had fostered was lost."

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Hutong protector Zhang Wei believes the "rebuilding issue" in Beijing has also provided an unique opportunity for corruption.

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"The contractors can benefit a lot more from building new, fake cultural relics than restoring the old ones," Zhang said.

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Building replicas of historic sites has also put pressure on local finances. To make way for the rebuilding of the former ancient structures, an estimated 200,000 residents in Dongcheng district will have to be compensated for vacating their homes over the next 20 years.

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The municipal government has not released detailed information on the specific number of people to be moved.

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"A lot of money has to be spent on the removal and relocation of the local residents. How can the new replicas support a vibrant community after the residents have all been moved?" asked Professor Zhu.

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Zhu said the local government should focus on improving people's livelihoods and renovating the old residential areas and historic sites, rather than chase them out and tearing the old buildings down.

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Back to the past

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Even though China's Cultural Relics Protection Law bans the rebuilding of heritage sites if they have been destroyed, cities all across China are rebuilding those that have been demolished to make way for modernization.

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Many local governments envision the reconstruction projects as a sure way to fill their coffers with tourist money. In Datong, Shanxi Province, the government recently launched a massive campaign of rebuilding several temple towers that were long ago burned or demolished.

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In 2009, the Luoyang government rebuilt two halls of the emperor's palace and a statue of one Buddha that was originally built during the rule of Wu Zetian, the only woman emperor in the Chinese history. These buildings had been burned to the ground by revolutionaries in Tang Dynasty (618-907).

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Nanjing of Jiangsu Province spent 700 million yuan in 2007 to recreate the Jiangning Weaving and Fabric Manufacturing House which was depicted in the classic novel Dream of Red Mansions.

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While all the projects were designed to pay back their initial investment, many people worry they will turn into white elephants and fail to attract paying visitors.

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Most governments don't release data showing how much they spend on the reconstruction work.

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"The authorities can't be faulted for wanting to attract investment and rebuild iconic sites as part of their urban landscape, but they should be more transparent as to the costs," said Xie Chensheng, an advisor to the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

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"Protection and renovation of original sites should be the priority," said Xie.

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In Beijing the public outcry over the reconstruction plans has also been fueled by the continuing demolition of other old buildings, most notably the siheyuan, or traditional courtyard homes, many of which are dilapidated.

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A large number of siheyuan in Beijing have been bulldozed in preparation for real estate or city infrastructure projects in recent years.

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According to the third national cultural relics census conducted by the State Administration of Cultural Relics in late 2011, 44,000 out of a total of 766,722 registered and immovable cultural relics have disappeared.

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The central government has taken specific measures to emphasize the need to protect the country's cultural relics. From April to May, five inspection teams are to be sent to 10 provincial regions to check that the Law on the Protection of Cultural Relics is being adhered to, reported Xinhua.

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Experts are calling for stronger legislation to prevent the destruction of historic sites. "The current penalties no longer restrain the developers' pursuit of profits, and the legislative body should amend the protection law and impose harsher penalties on those who destroy historic sites," Xie said.

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[此贴子已经被作者于2012/4/18 12:59:19编辑过]
发表于 2012-4-20 14:13:00 | 显示全部楼层
No comment 无可奉告。
发表于 2012-4-18 13:08:00 | 显示全部楼层
发表于 2012-4-18 13:41:00 | 显示全部楼层

something special in china.

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[此贴子已经被作者于2012/4/18 13:41:17编辑过]
发表于 2012-4-18 13:57:00 | 显示全部楼层

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