Yuanmingyuan symbolizes our humiliation, don't profit from it

11:30, January 27, 2010      

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"With the upcoming Spring Festival, the first Yuanmingyuan Park (Old Summer Palace) royal temple fair will take place in the park. Fun activities and performances, including prayers by the royal family and the palace cockfighting, will be held."

How could this piece of news be true, if you know Yuanmingyuan is a place symbolizing national humiliation and grief? I guess it's for the sake of money. Sure it is. This temple fair is sponsored by a company in cooperation with some government department, because they believe "cultural heritage is an important business resource".

In recent years, a shortage of funds for heritage preservation and low salaries for the workers have become reasons for raising ticket prices at ancient cultural sites. Yuanmingyuan is a symbol of humiliation since it was ruined 150 years ago. Such humiliation always urges us to work hard and reinvigorate our nation.

However, some people don't think this way. In today's society, business practices are more and more pervasive. People often think about what they can sell for money and how to make money.

"Why do you keep mentioning the historical shame? Why don't you take advantage of large tracts of open land? What's the use of the empty talk about shame when you can make a lot of money?"

Today, many people hold such views.

I wonder how Chinese people in other places will look at us if they know we are eating, drinking and merry-making at such a place that is symbolic of national humiliation and suffering. On one hand, we are relentlessly tracing Yuanmingyuan relics plundered by imperialists; on the other hand, we are cockfighting, eating and drinking in the park. How will it hurt the national feelings?

If there is no basic principle, we'll be carried away by desires. Today, if Yuanmingyuan is allowed to hold a temple fair; tomorrow it may have playgrounds, and the day after tomorrow children playing in the park may feel bewildered if you ask them the question: "Who burned down Yuanmingyuan?"

The Zhejiang Hengdian Group once announced that they would start a new garden project called Hengdian Yuanming New Garden, but their project stopped amidst protests. Indeed, Yuanmingyuan is a Chinese national treasure, and individuals, small groups or local governments have no right to turn it into a moneymaking tool.

(Excerpts of commentary that appeared on qianlong.com on Jan 21.)

Source: China Daily
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