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Puzzlement hits 10 historic Chinese towers' road to World Cultural Heritage

(People's Daily Online)

08:24, November 12, 2012

Tengwang Pavilion in Jiangxi Province.(file photo)

Ten local governments in China originally planned to file a joint application for the World Cultural Heritage status for 10 famous ancient towers within their jurisdiction, but had to put off the plan due to lack of consensus, according to information from the 2012 China Famous Ancient Towers Mayors Forum and Ninth Annual Famous Ancient Towers Convention held in Changsha, Hunan province, from Nov. 2 to Nov. 4.

10 historic towers of profound cultural significance

The joint application plan was proposed by the China Famous Ancient Towers Protection Committee. The 10 historic towers include Yueyang Tower, Yellow Crane Tower, Tengwang Pavilion, Penglai Pavilion, Guanque Tower, Daguan Tower, Yuejiang Tower, Tianxin Pavilion, Zhonggu Tower, and Tianyi Pavilion.

Most of the 10 famous towers were rebuilt in modern times, so many people consider them unqualified for the World Cultural Heritage status. The protection committee's head Zou Luzi explained that most of China's famous ancient towers are wooden constructions, and have undergone renovation or reconstruction. However, these towers still have profound cultural significance.

Zou's view was echoed by Professor Gu Jiang, deputy managing director of Nanjing University's National Cultural Industry Research Center. Many famous ancient towers have to be renovated. The most important thing is that they retain their historical, artistic, and cultural value, Gu said.

Heritage application is reasonable but management is deficient

There are comments that the application of the Ten Towers for inclusion in the List of World Heritage is only aimed at looking for leverage for price increase.

Gu said the application in itself is understandable and that the criticism from public opinion actually points to the management malpractices after the application.

Gu said the application plays an important role in enhancing the cultural and spiritual philosophy and quality of the local area and its opening-up level and international influence and even China's overall cultural level and soft power. But many scenic spots act in a shortsighted manner and care only for the income increase of the local department.

He suggested that the local area should not solely rely on the scenic spot to obtain economic benefits after the success of the application but should look for foothold in long-term sustainable development. The management department should carry out overall planning and provide more humane services for tourists, so as to drive the industrial chain in the surrounding area and cultivate the cultural services industry. After that, subsidies can be given to the scenic spots through transfer payments.

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