Relocating heritage sites

By Li Li
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Beijing Review, November 1, 2013
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Architectural structures donated by Hong Kong movie star Jackie Chan to the Singapore University of Technology and Design were unveiled for the first time on September 6.

An ancient wooden house is rebuilt in August 2012 at a tourism resort in Wuyuan County, Jiangxi Province, after being moved from a remote village where it was originally located [By Zheng Qingyuan]

Chan's donations, dating back to the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, include a pavilion, an opera stage and two houses. Chan bought them in the 1990s in east China's Anhui Province, birthplace of the ancient Hui school of Chinese architecture.

The four structures were shipped to Singapore in 2010, where they will be restored and used as a "clubhouse" for faculty members and students, a stage for outdoor performances and a "resting place" on the university's campus by 2015.

When Chan first announced his donation via the Internet in April, he drew a torrent of criticism from Chinese netizens, who condemned the giving away of Chinese architectural treasures to a foreign country.

In an interview with state broadcaster China Central Television, Chan defended his decision, saying it was intended to promote international cultural exchange.

"We must display some of our works of art abroad so foreigners can know about our culture," Chan said. He added that the buildings were not unique, one-off national treasures like many had erroneously assumed.

According to Chan, he chose Singapore as the new home for his collection simply because they are technologically advanced when it comes to preserving and maintaining ancient buildings and they attach great importance to the preservation of ancient architecture. Chan revealed that some local governments in China had contacted him looking to accommodate his buildings, but he rejected their offers for fear that his fame would be misused to promote commercial projects that would be developed next to the restored buildings.

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