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UPDATED: April 27, 2013 NO.18 MAY 2, 2013
Preserving History

Yuan Guangkuo (Guangzhou Daily): Most people hope that Chan will think carefully before he puts his plan into practice. Anyway, China's historic buildings should stay at home. Why doesn't Chan donate his collection to universities in China? Is it because local institutes are not prepared to receive his donation or lack the relevant scientific technology to protect such ancient structures? If these universities are ready to receive these buildings, they should try to retain Chan's collection at home through various efforts and channels. If Chinese universities do lack relevant protection capabilities, this event provides an opportunity for them to win more inputs in relevant upgrades.

Besides, ancient buildings are different from common cultural relics, demanding tough environment and protection conditions. The climate and geographical situations in Singapore are not favorable to the protection of Chinese ancient buildings. More importantly, when displaced, ancient buildings will easily lose their original value as historic relics. Is it possible for some authorities or personnel to dissuade Chan from donating his collection?

Quite possibly, these old buildings will be regarded as significant cultural and historic relics in the future. By then, it might be too late to get these treasured pieces back.

Chao Bai (Nanfang Daily): It seems that Chan's donation plan has offended some Chinese, but will such actions really impact the vast majority? I don't think so. This is not the first time we experienced such events. Some people might appear indignant at first, but would soon forget what happened. In 2003, famous Hui-style building Yingyutang was moved to the United States, and ironically, at that time, the event was highly spoken of by the public. That project took seven years from planning to detailed implementation. Actually, in 1996, there was already a trend of Hui-style buildings' being transferred to other countries. At most, some people express their anger, but that was all.

It's not a time for us to criticize Chan, but to review what relevant departments have done to China's ancient buildings. Someday, when massive attention is paid to the country's historic relics protection efforts, then we may say the country's heritage is well protected.

Cong Jianfeng (Wuhan Evening News): Chan has decided to send four traditional buildings to Singapore and according to him, "has the impulse" to donate six additional structures.

Why does he believe Singapore to be the "best destination" for these old Chinese buildings? It's not a time to talk about patriotism, but to ponder the reason why he didn't choose his home country.

Ancient buildings cannot be reborn. Poor protection will lead to the death of such structures. Singapore has a much shorter history than China. There are not so many ancient construction sites left there, and in the 1970s old buildings were widely torn down.

However, since 1971, several laws and regulations on the protection of old buildings have been passed in Singapore, which have been strictly implemented. As a result, this country that is comparatively short of historic relics never fails to shock tourists from abroad with its well-preserved old areas.

Back in China, we are blessed with so many beautiful ancient buildings and historic relics, but it seems that relevant departments are more interested in how to make money from, rather than preserving such priceless treasures.

Now, people are calling for further protection of Chinese cultural relics. Nevertheless, what matters is deeds, not words. Not only has Singapore offered to safeguard Chan's ancient buildings, but also suggested the structures would be used as education materials for students in architecture. If Chan were offered the same treatment as this at home, maybe he would have reconsidered his plans.

Email us at: zanjifang@bjreview.com

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