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Temple of Heaven Cultural Circle to Emerge
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The government of Chongwen District in Beijing is committed to building the Cultural Circle of the Temple of Heaven, in order to develop the economy while preserving local characteristics, as the capital city advances the strategy of "accelerating the development of South Beijing" in preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games, said the 2007 Chongwen government work report.

As one of the central districts of old Beijing, Chongwen boasts immense historical and cultural resources within its area of 16.46 square kilometers.

The Temple of Heaven is a world cultural heritage site located at the center of the district and attracts attention from both home and abroad. The Corner Tower of the city wall of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the Embrasured Watchtower over the Front Gate, the Yongding Gate Tower, and the Zuoan Gate Tower, situated to the northeast, northwest, southwest and southeast corners respectively of the district, form a square city pattern.

Statistics show that there are 105 historical and cultural relics in the district, with cultural tourism resources occupying 47.2 percent of its directly usable land.

With the Temple of Heaven as the center, a cultural circle has taken initial shape in Chongwen. The district displays a unique blend of the traditional and the modern, which accords a significant character to the cultural circle of the Temple of Heaven and further enhances its appeal.

Three functional areas

Chongwen District will focus on constructing three areas with distinct industrial functions - the Front Gate cultural innovation industrial area, the Longtan Lake sports industrial park area, and the south-central axes modern commercial area, Party Secretary of Chongwen District Li Xiaoguang said.

The cultural circle will therefore be able to showcase Beijing as an ancient capital with modern cultural industries.

As many old houses in the Front Gate area have fallen into disrepair over the years, a large number of cultural relics and historical sites scattered in these residencies are in great peril.

This has prompted the Chongwen district government to launch a large-scale renovation project. More than 12,000 residents have been moved out of the area, while numerous hazardous structures have been repaired.

While improving the living conditions of local people, the district government always gives priority to protecting the historical appearance of Beijing by adhering to three "completely" principles, that is, completely carry out the program of protecting the historical features of the Xianyukou and Front Gate(Qianmen) areas, completely salvage and protect the existing cultural relics and valuable buildings in the Front Gate area, and completely rescue the hutongs (lanes, alleys) and shops of long standing in the Front Gate area.

After the residents in the cultural relics protection area were relocated, experts were able to meticulously inspect the historical heritage sites and set down individual protection programs.

This practice strikes a balance between protection of cultural relics and improvement of living conditions, and has earned high praise from both the municipal government and experts.

The principle of balancing protection and development will continue to guide the next stage of the renovation project in the Front Gate area. The construction style of the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and early Republic of China (1912-1949) will be resumed along the Front Gate avenue, and a street of stores selling long-standing reputed brands will be built. The infrastructure in the area will also be modernized.

According to an initial layout, the northern part of the Qinian Multi-Cultural Street, which lies to the east of the Front Gate cultural innovation industrial area, will see the construction of a series of modern buildings such as luxury hotels, an international auction center and a cultural innovation industrial base for youngsters. In the southern part, an ancient group of buildings, including the Qinian Park and the second-phase construction of Baigong Lane, will accord a strong historical character to the street.

The Longtan Lake sports industrial park is the first of its kind in the country, developed on the combined themes of sport and leisure. The park will set up the China National Sports Museum, the Beijing Juvenile Activity Center, the Beijing International Sports Exchange Center, and the Sports Star Avenue, all in the area where the General Administration of Sport is situated. Great importance will be attached to sports competitions, the sale of sports equipmentas well as sports-related leisure and entertainment activities.

The goal of the park is to form a sports leisure and entertainment center, as well as a sports business exchange center. A sports sector headquarter base and a sports R&D (research and development) base are also on the cards.

Meanwhile, the south-central axes modern commercial area will be composed of a cloisonn cultural corridor and a fashion design R&D center. The former will rely on the reputation of cloisonn products made by Beijing Enamel Plant to forge a traditional handicraft R&D base and a cloisonn culture communication base, while the latter will focus on the design, establishment and promotion of costume brands in the hope of building a trade platform for international brands as well as an industrial base for innovation in costume design.

(China Daily March 9, 2007)

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