Wonderful Beijing Stories
Beijing has more than 3,000 years of history as a city and over 860 years as a capital. It is filled with many cultural remains and historical monuments. These sites attract people from all over the world to visit, learn about and understand this ancient city. Everyone who visits the city leaves with its cultural remains etched in their memory and end up encouraging more people to come and see these impressive sites for themselves.
Every city has its own stories hidden throughout it, and Beijing is no different. The buildings in China's capital are filled with tales of the past and have witnessed the city's evolution and development. Just like the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee and Beijing Municipal Government, all Beijingers have a duty to help the rest of the world understand the city and tell its stories to visitors.
Beijing's historical monuments, including seven World Heritage Sites—the Great Wall, Ming Tombs, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian, Grand Canal and Temple of Heaven—serve as the city's storytellers. They have witnessed the changes and development of the city and played an integral part in its cultural profundity. For example, the Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian is a cradle of human civilisation; the Great Wall reflects the insight, wisdom and prowess of ancient Chinese; the Forbidden City, the best-preserved existing imperial palace in the world, is an exemplar for traditional Chinese architecture; and the Temple of Heaven, the world's largest surviving altar for worshipping heaven, symbolises the Chinese idea of harmonious coexistence between humans and nature.
Aside from its World Heritage Sites, Beijing's southto-north Central Axis stands out among its kind across the world for both its size and history. The 7.8-kilometrelong axis stretches from Yongding Gate in the south to the Drum and Bell towers in the north, connecting historical monuments such as the Forbidden City, Imperial Ancestral Temple, Altar of Land and Grain, and the Temple of Heaven. It is the best-preserved extant central axis in the world and exemplifies the concept of “central meridians” in ancient Chinese cities.
Currently, Beijing has nominated the Central Axis for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Central Axis has become a frequently used phrase among Beijingers. Recently, the National Cultural Heritage Administration and Beijing Municipal Government jointly hosted the International Seminar on Protection of Beijing Central Axis Area and its Application for World Heritage Site, attracting the participation of many renowned experts. Participants offered their opinions on how to describe the Central Axis's values, World Heritage nomination plans, governance methods, and presentation and utilisation.
Cai Qi, secretary of the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee, serves as the “interpreter” for the Central Axis. He explained how the Central Axis was the soul and backbone of old Beijing, a vehicle for Chinese culture and a representative of the most important achievement of urban design in ancient Eastern cities. Protecting, continuing and utilising the axis is not only important for Beijing but also exerts influence on the development of human civilisation. Cai added that nominating the Central Axis for inscription as a World Heritage Site helps protect the site.
Beijing adheres to the principles of respecting history and minimising interference with historical sites when protecting them. It makes efforts to continue traditional culture and integrate cultural remains with the modern environment. By demonstrating historical monuments and sites to visitors, the city hopes its cultural remains can bring benefits to the local environment and residents. To ensure the sustainable development of historical sites, more detailed measures will be taken to improve the city's preservation efforts.
Cai inspected the Central Axis for the third time in 2018 in order to review the implementation of plans to protect it. He stressed that protecting and continuing Beijing's Central Axis are important political tasks; and that all related people should be accountable to history, the country and people when protecting the site. People from all walks of life have been encouraged to work hard to help list the Central Axis as a World Heritage Site and protect it, and endeavour to showcase outstanding Chinese culture via the axis.
As the nomination process for the Central Axis proceeds, Beijingers anticipate being able to tell the rest of the world more interesting stories.