Island strives for balanced development

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In addition, music and arts are rooted in the island's culture, creating potential to develop relevant cultural industries, Huang said. The island has the country's largest piano and music organ museum.

In order to diversify the local culture on the island, Xiamen recently introduced exhibitions from the Palace Museum, mostly artifacts made in other countries.

In May, the Gulangyu Island Gallery of Foreign Artifacts from the Palace Museum was opened in a building that used to be a medical and nursing school in order to display 219 sets of such cultural relics.

Xiamen was one of five ports opened to foreign countries in the 1840s after the government of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) lost the First Opium War. A number of buildings were constructed for diplomats from countries including the UK and Germany.

The gallery was the first trial by the Palace Museum to work with local governments to display cultural relics outside Beijing. It is also one of the key elements in Gulangyu Island becoming a world cultural heritage site. Exhibitions were from countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan, mostly from the 18th and the 19th centuries.

The gallery's director, Ren Wanping, said relics on display will be rotated. For example, textile items will be changed every three months. Most of the exhibitions are fragile and hard to transport, making it more difficult to move the artifacts from Beijing to Xiamen.

The Palace Museum followed operational rules and worked with local police to get them on the island, Ren said.

"The Forbidden City has little space to exhibit all these beautiful artifacts. Our gallery displays foreign-made ones to show different cultures from many countries. Gulangyu Island has been a place where Chinese and foreign cultures have met and converged," said Wan Xiufeng, director of the exhibition department in the gallery.

Wan said visitors can see items in diverse categories such as porcelain, lacquer painting, calligraphy, textiles and technical equipment. Many of them are displayed for the first time, he said.

"People may have an impression that China was cut off from the outside world in the Qing Dynasty, but our country had much more frequent cultural exchanges with other countries than the stereotype. Through these exhibitions, we can see how different cultures from the East and the West met in our country," Wan said.

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