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Western China Explores Cultural Heritage Gold

Grottoes carved out of cliffs, ancient cities standing in pastures, Tibetan Buddhist temples surrounded by snow-and-ice-capped mountains. These and other cultural and historical sites in China's vast western region are turning into money-makers for local residents.

Statistics show that tourism projects involving cultural and historical sites account for 20 percent of the more than 6,000 projects requiring investment at the on-going Investment and Trade Fair for Cooperation between Eastern and Western China. The fair opened last Friday in Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

Shaanxi, known as a "treasure-trove for relics," put forward a hot springs project which requires an investment of 180 million yuan (US$21.68 million) and a 100 million-yuan (US$12.04 million) museum project to be built for the Famen Temple, the imperial temple of the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

The province has also planned four tourism zones which highlight the cultural backdrop of the Zhou (BC11th century-BC256), Qin (BC221-BC207), Han (BC206-220AD) and Tang dynasties in Chinese history.

This northwest China province, home to capitals of 13 dynasties, annually attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from overseas and tens of millions domestic visitors.

The western region has 23 percent of China's total population and 57 percent of the national total land area. However, it only accounts for one-tenth of the national total tourism resources that have been developed.

Vice-Governor of Qinghai Province Su Sen said that Qinghai had developed a group of industries which did not feature local history, emphasizing instead the snow-capped mountains, the vast Gobi Desert, well-preserved Tibetan temples and historical sites along the ancient Silk Road.

The situation is almost the same in other western provinces and autonomous regions.

A recent survey reveals that the Tomb of the King of Western Xia Dynasty (1038-1227), located near Yinchuan, capital of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and the largest cultural site of Western Xia now still existing in China, has yet to be visited by at least 90 percent of residents in Yinchuan.

To explore tourism spots in the west, some Chinese travel agencies have organized trips that go to Maiji Mountain, famous for its grottos carved more than 1,500 years ago, the tomb of the king of Western Xia, the terracotta warriors in Xi'an, the Famen Temple and many other cultural sites in western China.

Zhou Tianyou, curator of the Shaanxi Provincial Museum of History, said that western provinces and autonomous regions are paying more attention to protecting cultural relics while developing them into tourism attractions.

Shaanxi is drafting plans for protecting the 72 mausoleums of ancient emperors before turning them into tourism sites.

(People's Daily 04/09/2001)

In This Series

Special Fund to Protect Cultural Heritages

Greater Support Pledged for Tourism Industry

Ancient Buddhist Temple Untouched by Modern Tourism

China to Better Preserve Historical Sites in Western Region



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