More funds likely to protect heritage in private hands

By Wang Kaihao ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-04-05 08:52:12

More funds likely to protect heritage in private hands

Hongcun village in Anhui province is a UNESCO World Heritage site famed for its traditional architecture. Zuo Dongchen / CFP

More funds will be mobilized to protect endangered heritage that is currently outside government domain, according to a top official of the Culture Ministry.

The move comes in the wake of related national guidelines released by the State Council, China's cabinet, in February.

The State Administration of Cultural Heritage, affiliated to the ministry, is drafting relevant rules on social participation in projects that involve privately owned cultural items, Zhu Xiaodong, director of the agency's legal department, told a news briefing last week.

How best to protect cultural relics that are in individual possession is a question that Zhu and the ministry are now trying to answer.

"Many old residences, for example, are immovable cultural relics, and it is difficult to allow public revenue for private property," Zhu says.

That aside, when the owners renovate such residences, they tend to introduce new facilities and unintentionally harm the original facades.

"Their personal incomes are usually far from enough to support huge projects," he adds.

China has inscribed 2,555 national-level traditional villages that have some 11,000 immovable cultural relics, including 6,600 traditional residences, the ministry's data show.

"The vast majority of such residences is privately owned, and it is estimated that two-thirds of them are in poor condition due to the lack of repairs over long periods," Zhu says.

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