Tuesday, June 12, 2007

“It Is Like 1,000 Cities Having The Same Appearance.”

"China’s rapid urbanization has devastated the country’s architectural and cultural heritage sites, state news organizations reported Monday.

“Senseless actions” by local officials in their pursuit of renovation and modernization have “devastated” the sites, Qiu Baoxing, the vice minister of construction, was quoted as saying by the newspaper China Daily.

He said the destruction was similar to what happened during the Great Leap Forward in the late 1950s and the Cultural Revolution, from 1966 to 1976, when relics and sites of historical value were destroyed.

China’s cities have been transformed in recent years, with old neighborhoods being pulled down to make way for high-rise buildings and highways. But many historic buildings have also been destroyed.

“They are totally unaware of the value of cultural heritage,” Mr. Qiu was quoted as saying about some officials.

“This is leading to a poor sight — many cities have a similar construction style,” he was quoted as saying on the sidelines of an international conference on urban culture and city planning. “It is like 1,000 cities having the same appearance.” ...

Mr. Tong said a $130 million, five-year nationwide survey on cultural relics had been started to gain a clearer picture of their status."

Associated Press "China’s Growth Harms Heritage, Minister Warns" New York Times June 12, 2007



Chinese UNESCO World Heritage Lite Sites.

May 16, 2007

Inauguration of a World Heritage Training and Research Institute for Asia and the Pacific Region in China

The Yungang Grottoes, in Datong city, Shanxi Province

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Brief Description

The Yungang Grottoes, in Datong city, Shanxi Province, with their 252 caves and 51,000 statues, represent the outstanding achievement of Buddhist cave art in China in the 5th and 6th centuries. The Five Caves created by Tan Yao, with their strict unity of layout and design, constitute a classical masterpiece of the first peak of Chinese Buddhist art.

Justification for Inscription

Criterion i The assemblage of statuary of the Yungang Grottoes is a masterpiece of early Chinese Buddhist cave art. Criterion ii The Yungang cave art represent the successful fusion of Buddhist religious symbolic art from south and central Asia with Chinese cultural traditions, starting in the 5th century CE under Imperial auspices. Criterion iii The power and endurance of Buddhist belief in China are vividly illustrated by the Yungang grottoes. Criterion iv The Buddhist tradition of religious cave art achieved its first major impact at Yungang, where it developed its own distinct character and artistic power.

Photo credit: UNESCO via Theodora.com. With thanks.


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