Adopt a heritage building and help save a culture

By Sun Ruisheng in Taiyuan and Li Yang in Beijing (China Daily)


An old residential building at Zhongzhuang village, Yangcheng county, Shanxi, after a renovation funded by private donations. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Idea spreads

Inspired by successful programs in counties like Quwo, the cultural heritage adoption program was officially launched across the province in 2017.

Over the past three years, 126 heritage buildings have been "adopted" by nongovernmental parties in Shanxi who have contributed 200 million yuan for the renovation work.

"We are glad to see the government has officially launched the overdue adoption program, and now it is the government that takes the initiative to bid for adopters of the cultural heritage," Liang said.

Shanxi people are happy to see more and more ancient buildings being restored and protected.

Xie Xinquan, 72, said the ancestral temple of the Xie family in his home village of Beiniuchi in Wanrong county had been renovated thanks to private donations. "The temple is important to the offspring of the Xie family to know their past," he said.

In 2018, the State Council, encouraged by the local government programs, welcomed private investors to take part in protection of cultural relics for the first time.

Without changing the cultural heritage buildings' ownership, the government has invited social organizations, enterprises and citizens to fund the renovation of cultural relics. The government supervises the renovation projects and provides professional guidance for the work.

Experts argue a big gap remains when it comes to funding the restoration of county-level historical relics, as there are a large number of them in poor condition.

Sun, the Quwo county official who started the adoption idea, thinks it is only a makeshift solution, as local governments lack the funds to renovate the heritage buildings themselves.

"Without proper maintenance, some buildings might collapse in two to three years," Sun warned.

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