LIV­ING IN AN AN­TIQUE

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

work on looks like a bis­cuit that had fallen from the sixth floor. That’s the sort of con­di­tion they are in be­fore we start restora­tion works,” said Zhang.

“It’s un­de­ni­able that we are mak­ing a liv­ing from them, but there is noth­ing wrong. What we are do­ing now is def­i­nitely bet­ter than leav­ing them to crum­ble,” ar­gued Zhang, in re­sponse to crit­ics that the houses lose their roots af­ter they are dis­man­tled and shipped around.

In 2012, the govern­ment of Suzhou, Jiangsu prov­ince, in­tro­duced a se­ries of new reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing the pro­tec­tion of old houses and vil­lages, al­low­ing pri­vate cap­i­tal to be in­vested in his­tor­i­cally im­por­tant sites.

Ac­cord­ing to Yu Feng, vice-chair­man of the Col­lec­tion As­so­ci­a­tion Club in Yiwu, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, there were no poli­cies per­tain­ing to the sale and re­sale of an­tique houses prior to the re­lease of th­ese reg­u­la­tions. He added that as long as a house was not listed by the lo­cal or cen­tral govern­ment as a pro­tected relic, it would be up for grabs to the tens of thou­sands of col­lec­tors.

Yu, a lo­gis­tics mag­nate from the city that is home to the world’s largest trad­ing cen­ter of small com­modi­ties like zips and socks, called an­tique houses “an ul­ti­mate item for any Chi­nese col­lec­tor”, as it makes for the per­fect place to house the an­tique porce­lain­wares, fur­ni­ture and paint­ings col­lected.

How­ever, oth­ers have ar­gued that the thriv­ing house-col­lect­ing mar­ket is ac­tu­ally ac­cel­er­at­ing the demise of th­ese an­tique build­ings, see­ing as to how col­lec­tors ac­tively search for old homes to knock down and re­build. This is aided by the fact that the res­i­dents of th­ese old homes, most of whom strug­gle to make ends meet in life, would usu­ally be more than happy to trade their homes for much-needed cash.

GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY PHOTOS BY

Many parts of the Ahn Luh Zhu­ji­a­jiao ho­tel were re­stored us­ing the ma­te­ri­als from an­tique col­lec­tor Qin Tongqian's pri­vate col­lec­tion.

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