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Central Government Invests Heavily in Relic Protection in Tibet
New renovation projects at the Potala Palace, Norbulingka Park and Sagya Temple mark the beginning of yet another chapter in the central government’s efforts to protect cultural relics in Tibet. Over the past two decades, the central government has worked vigorously to protect Tibet’s cultural and historical relics through an investment of over 300 million yuan (about US$36 million). This has provided for the renovation of over 1,400 Tibetan temples, cultural relics and sites of religious activity.

Rinchen-Tsering, director of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Bureau of Cultural Heritage, said that Tibet has always been heralded as a treasure-trove of China’s cultural and historical relics. Most are collected by and stored in temples. Since the 1950s, the central government has paid considerable attention to the preservation of these cultural and historical relics. As early as June 1959, the Management Commission for Tibet’s Cultural and Historical Relics, Documents and Archives was established. Since then it has been responsible for both collecting and protecting many of Tibet’s cultural relics, archives, ancient books and historical records.

During the same period, various specialist working-groups were sent to carry out field surveys on prominent cultural and historical relics in such places as Lhasa, Xigaze and Shannan.

Nine sites including the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Ganden Monastery, Tibetan King’s Tomb, the site of Resistance to British Aggression at Zongshan of Gyangze County, and the Guge Kingdom site, were listed on China’s first schedule of key sites of historical and cultural importance where were placed under state-level protection.

In 1965, the regional government set up the Cultural and Historical Relics Management Commission to oversee preservation work throughout Tibet. At this time they placed 11 key sites of historical and cultural importance under regional-level protection. These included Little-Jokhang temple, Rezhen Temple, and Chubu Monastery. Some of these relics were renovated at that time. Even during the “cultural revolution” period (1966-1976), the then Premier Zhou Enlai personally instructed special protection measures for key cultural relics such as the Potala Palace.

In the 1980s, the Tibet Autonomous Region promulgated a series of rules and regulations for the preservation of cultural relics. These included a notice on intensifying protection of cultural heritages, provisional regulations on the management of dispersed cultural relics, regulations on the management of cultural relics, and the regulations concerning the protection of Potala Palace.

Over the last two decades, the central government has invested over 300 million yuan (US$36 million) to renovate over 1,400 temples and open these to the public. Particularly in the period from 1989 to 1994, China allocated 55 million yuan (US$6.65 million) as well as a significant amount of gold and silver to renovate the Potala Palace. This has represented a level of investment unprecedented in the history of cultural and historical relic preservation in China.

In May 1994, the World Cultural Heritage Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization assigned experts to conduct a field survey on the completed renovation of the Potala Palace.

They agreed that the work was up to an advanced international-level standard, calling it “a miracle in the history of ancient building preservation” and “a significant contribution not only to Tibetan culture but also in the wider field of world cultural preservation”.

Later in December 1994, the World Heritage Commission unanimously agreed to list the Potala Palace in the World Heritage List on account of its cultural value and the effort expended in its preservation. By the end of 2001, Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka Park had also been listed.

In the following three years, another 100 million yuan (US$12.1 million) was committed to build the Tibet Autonomous Regional Museum. This modern facility is on a site occupying 52,479 square meters. Its floor area total 21,000 square meters.

Starting from scratch in the 1950s, Tibet has built up a large pool of preservation professionals. More than 270 specialists are now working on the cultural relics and in archaeology, and 95 percent of them are Tibetans.

(china.org.cn by Alex Xu, July 23, 2002)

China Invests Heavily in Protecting Tibet's Relics
Maintenance of Major Heritage Sites in Tibet Under Way
Tibetan Relics Well Preserved
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