| 22 May 2024, Wednesday |

China vows to curb urban demolitions, preserve cultural heritage

China said in new policy guidelines released late Friday that it will put a halt to large-scale urban demolitions and conserve ancient historical structures as part of a campaign to protect its cultural heritage.

China’s fast economic development has been based on breakneck rates of urban expansion and renovation, which have resulted in the destruction of entire districts and the replacement of thousands of ancient structures with skyscrapers and retail malls.

The State Council, China’s cabinet, said the aim of the new guidelines was to “systematically protect and pass on” the country’s cultural heritage and “tell the stories of China and the Communist Party comprehensively and accurately”.

China’s President Xi Jinping said in June that China had to improve the way it “tells stories” about itself in order to better reflect its status on the world stage. Since then, the phrase has appeared in a number of government statements and policy documents.

The new urban planning guidelines said it was now forbidden to “demolish the real and construct the fake”, chop down old trees, randomly change old place names or make changes to lake or river systems.

It said effective measures should also be put in place to protect buildings that “reflect important historical events and bring together the emotional memories of the public”.

  • Reuters