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How to protect China's valuable historic villages

By Zhang Zhidan (People's Daily Overseas Edition)

08:26, May 07, 2012

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

No more than 5,000 historic villages left in China

Not all villages are historic villages. A village must meet four criteria to be considered "historic," according to Feng Jicai, chairman of the Chinese Folk Literature and Art Association (CFLAS).

First, it must have a long history, which remains an important part of the lives of its residents. Second, it must have a relatively complete layout and well-preserved public facilities such as streets, temples, stages, bridges, wells, and steles. Third, the village's intangible cultural heritage must be protected well. Fourth, it must have distinctive regional characteristics.

Li Yuxiang, a photographer focusing on historic villages, believes that of the hundreds of thousands of villages in China, only about 3,000 to 5,000 villages can be considered "historic."

Liao Ben, vice chairman of the Chinese Writers' Association, said that traditional villages featuring Han culture, the integration of Confucianism and the traditional Chinese family system, and the integration of living environment and natural and cultural elements represent a complex cultural space, and had long been dominant in China. They still have significant influence on the cultural thought of Chinese, the Confucian cultural circle in Asia, and Chinese communities Worldwide, and are extremely valuable and nonrenewable cultural resources.

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numamandla at 2012-05-07124.210.129.*
It is ambivalent for the villagers to preserve their historical heritage while living modern lives as those in urbanization. Why do they have to be entrenched in an inconvenient life to protect historical heritage?It is necessary to provide them with something substantial for income and to be proud of. Touristic approach must be helpful.

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