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Across China: "Strong-willed pagoda" on its last leg

English.news.cn   2014-07-30 15:41:57

TAIYUAN, July 30 (Xinhua) -- Standing on a mound of earth in Jiancun, a village in Qixian County, north China's Shanxi Province, Wenfeng Pagoda -- as local people call it -- is dubbed the "strong-willed pagoda".

The five-story brick pagoda still manages to stand in the wilderness upright although most of its pillars are ruined. It is close to collapsing.

Tang Dahua, nicknamed Ai Ta Chuan Qi (legend of pagoda loving) published pictures of the structure last week on Weibo, China's Twitter. He wants the local government to protect the fragile cultural relic.

"This might be the last the chance you see the pagoda," Tang wrote in the caption.

Tang's posts received thousands of hits and raised public concern over the safeguarding of cultural relics that are not on the top list for protection.

"The pagoda has been like this for a long time," said Li Fulin, a 60-year-old farmer in the village. "It is getting worse, as it is exposed to the sun and rain."

Built at least 370 years ago, the pagoda stands on an eight-meter high mound of earth. The pagoda is about five meters high, said Du Yagang, deputy head of the county's cultural relics protection bureau.

"It has been officially recognized as an unmovable cultural relic, but we are waiting for proper rating protection," Du said.

In China, relics are rated differently depending on their historical and cultural value. This often means different allocations of funding for protection.

The government pays little attention to relics that are not on the protection list.

Shanxi has the highest number of ancient cultural relics among all provinces in China, with 18,418. However, protection of lower-level cultural heritage is poor. Many of its municipal- or county-level relics are left unguarded, said Li Haiying, an engineer with the provincial ancient architecture protection institute.

"For Wenfeng Pagoda, it could cost millions of yuan to renovate and maintain," said Li.

"Cultural relics bureaus at county level are falling short either in terms of money or technology," said Li. "They are trying, but the outcome is still not satisfactory."

The county government plans to build a fence around the pagoda to prevent further damage. They have also turned to experts to see how it can be maintained, said Du Yagang.

Editor: Yang Yi
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