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Can 2.7-billion-yuan 'love' move tourists?

(People's Daily Online)

15:14, September 25, 2012

(Xi'an Evening News/ Wang Chengxi)

As the first long narrative poem in Chinese literary history, Southeast the Peacock Flies tells the love tragedy between Jiao Zhongqing and Liu Lanzhi, and presents the young couple's reasonable desire for true love and free marriage.

Huaining County, where the classic love story took place, plans to spend 2.7 billion yuan building itself into the "Chinese capital of love" through the Southeast the Peacock Flies Cultural Industry Base Project. The conceptual plan for the project has passed experts' evaluation.

Local governments should have drawn a lesson from the failure of the "Hometown of the Butterfly Lovers" project, and be more cautious about building fake historical sites. However, Huaining decided to spend a staggering 2.7 yuan building the "Chinese capital of love" against the general trend. Here a question arises: Will the "Chinese capital of love" fail like the "Hometown of the Butterfly Lovers?"

The Butterfly Lovers is the only Chinese folk tale with great worldwide influence. It tells the tragic love story of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, and has been circulated for more than 1,460 years. The two lead characters have become household names in China, and their love story is hailed as a masterpiece through all ages. Since ancient times, countless people have been moved by the love tragedy between Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, the Chinese equivalent of Romeo and Juliet.

Southeast the Peacock Flies is less popular and influential than the Butterfly Lovers. Runan County, the hometown of the Butterfly Lovers, was listed among the first batch of China's national intangible cultural heritage (ICH) as early as 2006, while Southeast the Peacock Flies is only a provincial ICH item in Anhui.

Given the failed investment in the more popular and influential "Hometown of the Butterfly Lovers" project, Huaining should have drawn a lesson from it and studied the feasibility of the "capital of love" project in a scientific manner. Who would take responsibility if the "capital of love" project failed too?

Although the conceptual plan for the cultural industry base project has passed experts' evaluation, it does not necessarily mean scientific decision-making, nor can it dispel public doubts and worries. Huaining's revenue budget was only nearly 1.6 billion yuan in 2011, and it would take the county almost two years of its revenue to build the "capital of love." Is such expensive "love" really necessary?

Great love is not necessarily expensive. We do not know how many people will visit the "Chinese capital of love" to experience the eternal love, but it is certain that a city can rely on its history to attract visitors. However, it must have its own soul and charm, and rely on its current status to maintain visitors. By then, Southeast the Peacock Flies will be just icing on the cake.

We hope the "Chinese capital of love" will not become a failure like the "Hometown of the Butterfly Lovers." The Huaining county government will end up a laughing stock if it carries out the project in an unscientific manner only in pursuit of political achievements.

Source:The Beijing News , author:Chen Qiang.

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