North China's Shanxi Province is rich in ancient cultural heritage. There are more than 28,000 historical buildings in the province, but due to the fiscal difficulties of the local government, measures for the protection of ancient architecture are insufficient. The local government recently adopted a policy to encourage individuals and companies to participate in the protection of architectural relics.
China's wealth of ancient cultural heritage belongs to the whole nation, and thus the government is supposed to take primary responsibility for preservation work. The problem now is that the relevant authorities are economically incapable of doing a good job. Given that the Law on the Protection of Cultural Relics stipulates that all government departments, organizations and individuals are liable for the protection of cultural relics, the local government's decision is a correct one. There are already reports that some entrepreneurs have donated money for protection.
Most of those willing to get involved in the protection efforts are lovers of cultural relics focusing primarily on well-known ancient sites, while lesser-known temples in rural areas, which make up the majority of the province's cultural relics, continue to be exposed to harm. These lesser-known structures are unlikely to bring economic benefits in the form of tourism. Thus, how long this policy can last and how well it can perform remain pertinent questions.
Relevant authorities in Shanxi need to further clarify the rules and regulations. There must be a long-term mechanism that provides permanent security to these vestiges of ancient culture.
This is an edited excerpt of an article published in Guangming Daily on February 8