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Sichuan to invest US$1.4 billion to save Qiang culture
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The quake-hit Sichuan Province would seek investment worth 9.4 billion yuan (US$1.4 billion) to save the threatened culture of the Qiang people, local authorities said on Sunday.

A total of 7.9 billion yuan would be absorbed to assist the Qiang culture protection and tourism in Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture and Mianyang City where most of the Qiang people lived.

 Two Qiang girl student from the quake-hit Sichuan Province reads a text book about the Qiang culture during a book donation ceremony held in Beijing on September 10, 2008.

Two Qiang girl students from the quake-hit Sichuan Province read text books about the Qiang culture during a book donation ceremony held in Beijing on September 10, 2008.

The information was listed on a handbook distributed at the on-going international cooperation conference held in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province.

"Sichuan would attract investment of more than 600 billion yuan from home and abroad to reconstruct the quake-hit zones in the province, said Huang Xiaoxiang, Sichuan deputy governor, at the conference which attracted commerce representatives and businessmen from more than 20 countries.

The worst-hit Beichuan County also planned to attract 1.5 billion yuan to boost its tourism.

Part of the 9.4-billion-yuan fund would be used to build an education center to preserve documents and where Qiang cultural masters would have a larger stage to pass on traditions and festivals of their people.

Sichuan would restore and build the cultural facilities, villages, ancient castles and gardens featuring the Qiang ethnic culture. The fund would also go to the exploration and development of the skills of tailoring, the arts and cooking, according to the handbook.

The Qiang people, with a history of at least 3,000 years, were famous for their unique language, customs, arts and religious beliefs. They were also known for the stone castles they live in, often three or four stories tall.

It has a population of 300,000 people, 80 percent of whom are in quake-hit areas of Maoxian, Wenchuan, and Beichuan counties.

The culture of the Qiang nationality suffered a near fatal blow from the earthquake on May 12. All the houses in Luobo village, the most ancient Qiang village of Wenchuan County, were toppled. The same tragedy also befell hundreds of typical Qiang houses, buildings and bridges in Beichuan, Maoxian, Lixian counties.

More than 30,000 Qiang people died in the quake, 40 of whom were cultural masters and experts.

(Xinhua News Agency October 27, 2008)

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