Beijing’s ‘Golden Business Card’
Beijing has more than 3,000 years of history as a city and over 800 years as a capital in different eras. As one of the world’s most well-known cities, Beijing has many different kinds of cultural heritage. According to China’s third general survey of cultural relics, there are 3,840 registered immovable cultural relics in Beijing. Of these, 126 are classified as Major Sites Protected for their Historical and Cultural Value at the National Level; seven are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven; and 216 are classified as Major Sites Protected for their Historical and Cultural Value at the Municipal Level.
In addition, ten Beijing’s intangible cultural heritage items, such as Peking Opera and Kunqu Opera have been included in UNESCO’S Intangible Cultural Heritage List. The city also is home to 126 national intangible cultural heritage items and 82 people who have carried on the traditions of these items.
In February 2014 and February 2017, when making visits to Beijing, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping put forward the requirements for protecting Beijing’s historical and cultural resources. Xi pointed out Beijing’s rich cultural heritage is “a golden business card” of the city and protecting this valuable heritage is the responsibility of the government; that Beijing’s historical and cultural resources are great witnesses to Chinese civilisation and must be carefully protected; and that when carrying out this protection, the government needs to pay attention to the overall value of Beijing’s history and culture and strengthen the city’s ancient and modern elements.
The question of how to better protect Beijing’s historical and cultural resources is of common concern to the Beijing Municipal Committee of the CPC, the government of Beijing Municipality, and the city’s residents. The answer to this question lies in the recently approved Beijing Urban Master Plan (2016–2035).
According to the Plan, as China’s cultural centre, Beijing must take the cultivation and promotion of socialist core values as its guide; make protecting its reputation as a famous historical and cultural city; take the development of the Grand Canal, the Great Wall, the Fragrant Hills and Yongding River as starting points; push forward a public cultural service system and the development of the city’s cultural innovation industry.
Residents will be pleased to know that the Plan focuses on protecting our famous historical and cultural city, further discovering its historical and cultural resources from a broad perspective, expanding and enriching its protection, and setting up a system to strengthen the protection of the city in regard to four levels, two major areas, three culture belts, and nine aspects.
“Four levels” refer to protecting the four spatial levels of the old urban area, the central urban area, the city’s administrative region, and the Beijing-tianjin-hebei region; “two areas” refer to the old urban area and the “Three Hills and Five Gardens” area; the “three culture belts” refer to the Grand Canal, the Great Wall, and the Fragrant Hills and Yongding River; and “nine aspects” include protecting and making proper use of world heritage and relic sites.
The Plan clearly stresses the protection of the old urban area, including the traditional central axis of Beijing’s layouts formed in the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644– 1911) dynasties; the protection of the Forbidden City; the restoration of the historical water system; the protection of the original pattern of road networks, and traditional quadrangle courtyards; strict control of building heights in each district; maintenance of the wide and open form of the old urban area.
Beijingers have always been proud of the city’s history and culture. Nowadays the Beijing Urban Master Plan has become a hot topic among Beijing residents, who are looking forward to seeing a world- class harmonious and livable capital with restored historic buildings, pleasing modern architecture, clean streets, lush green spaces and clear rivers. The realisation of this plan will be a new chapter for Beijing and will contribute to achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. (