historical and cultural cities


historical and cultural cities
In 1982, in conjunction with China’s Law of the PRC on the Protection of Cultural Relics, the State Council designated twenty-four ‘historical and cultural cities’. The three criteria for such a designation were (1) the degree to which those cities possessed abundant and significant cultural relics; (2) how much the contemporary city reflected its traditional urban plan and context; and (3) whether the preservation of the city in general, and its historic districts in particular, would have a positive impact on, and provide useful guidelines for, other cities. In 1986 the Council determined that thirty-eight other cities met these criteria; thirty-seven more were added in 1994, and two more after 1999, totalling (as of early 2003) 101 cities.
Designation has not automatically led to protection. Because Chinese cities have faced extraordinary challenges in the past twenty years—e.g. population influx, infrastructural upgrades, real estate development, environmental transformation—the toll taken on historic and cultural resources within cities has been extraordinary. Furthermore, there is often a lack of public awareness about either the importance of heritage protection, or the extent to which Chinese governmental authorities truly consider such protection a priority.
Although the central government provided US$18 million for protection projects in eighty cities between 1997 and 2002, demolition in the name of urban renewal continues to erode the historic fabric of many Chinese cities, thus calling into question governments’ will or ability to remedy the situation. Therefore, designation carries a certain cachet of being ‘historical’ or ‘cultural’ which sometimes translates into tourism value, and such designation can also bring monetary benefit from the government, but it still remains unclear whether most Chinese people either know, or care, that their city is historic/cultural, or not.
Chan, Jick Kong (1999). The 99 Historic Cities of China. Hong Kong: Historic City Books.
Ruan, Yisan (1995). Planning and Conservation of Chinese Historic Cities. Shanghai: Tongji University Press.
Wang, Jinghui, Ruan, Yisan and Wang, Lin (eds) (1999). Lishi wenhua gecheng baohu lilun yu guihua [Conservation Theory and Planning of Historic Cultural Cities]. Shanghai: Tongji University Press.
Wu, Liangyong (2000). Rehabilitating the Old City of Beijing: A Project for the Ju’er Hutong Neighborhood. Vancouver: University of British Columbia.
JEFFREY W.CODY

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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