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Protection of Cultural Relics
The 1990s was a period when China made the largest investment and achieved the most remarkable success in the protection of cultural relics. During that period, the special subsidies appropriated by the Central Government for the protection of cultural relics in more than 1,000 projects totaled about RMB 700 million yuan. As a result, a large number of cultural relics have been saved from destruction. Prominent successes have been achieved in the maintenance and protection of historical sites such as the Potala Palace (Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region), the Kumbum Monastery (Huangzhong County, Qinghai Province), the Kizil Thousand-Buddha Cave (Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region), the Longmen Grottoes (Luoyang City, Henan Province), the Yungang Caves (Datong City, Shanxi Province), the Mountain Summer Resort (Chengde City, Hebei Province), and the Thatched Cottage of Tang Poet Du Fu (Chengdu City, Sichuan Province), arousing great attention both at home and abroad.

Famous Historical and Cultural Cities and Ancient Villages So far, the relevant departments have appraised 99 and over 80 famous historical and cultural cities at the national and provincial levels, respectively. The protection of these cities includes both the preservation of the ancient buildings and historical sectors, and the maintenance of the planning styles and features of the ancient cities. The intact preservation of the ancient city of Lijiang in Yunnan Province and the ancient city of Pingyao in Shanxi Province, the two most successful examples, have resulted in these cities being put on UNESCO’s World Cultural and Natural Heritage List.

The ancient villages in China, a traditionally large agricultural state, are great in number and wide in distribution, which is rare in the world. Except for a few built during the Song and Yuan dynasties, most of the existing old villages date from the Ming and Qing periods. They are distributed in mountainous areas that have been economically backward and difficult of access since modern times. The natural environments and “state treasures collected by folks” — relics of folk culture, art and handicrafts — are well preserved in these villages. The Wang Family Mansion in Lingxian County, Shanxi Province, built in the Qing Dynasty, is the largest ancient folk residential complex existing in China. It has been well protected, together with some other ancient villages. Cultural relics authorities are planning an ancient village protection activity of an even larger scale. According to the plan, China will make a general survey of ancient villages and traditional dwelling houses with great cultural and artistic values, and formulate a state preservation plan.

To protect the historical and cultural heritages more effectively, in recent years Chinese government has also joined and taken active measures to carry out relevant international conventions, such as the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. So far, 28 cultural and natural heritage sites in China have been put on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List, ranking China third in the world in this respect.

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