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China to enhance grotto temple protection

Updated: Nov 04,2020 08:52 PM

The General Office of the State Council issued a circular on Nov 4, proposing better protection and utilization of China’s grotto temples. The move is of great significance as it relates to carrying forward outstanding traditional cultures of the Chinese nation, and promoting cultural exchanges, the circular said.

Combining buildings, sculptures, wall-paintings, and calligraphy, grotto temples fully embody the Chinese nation’s aesthetic pursuit, values and cultural spirit. The protection work is confronting some problems, such as the vulnerability to natural disasters and sabotage, as well as lacking professional agencies and staff members.

Against that backdrop, the circular stressed prioritizing tech-oriented and talent-based protection. It is aimed at eliminating major risks by 2022 with great innovative achievements in grotto temples’ management systems and mechanisms and putting in place a long-term conservation mechanism driven by both the government and private forces by the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan period.

More intensive efforts should be channeled to nationwide rescue conservation, and surveys should be done to investigate the current situation of the country’s grotto temple protection. By the end of the first half of 2021, a special plan on protection and utilization of grotto temples should be drafted, the circular said.

It called for a long-term security mechanism in grotto and relics protection. Direct security responsibility holders must be identified and publicized, and a comprehensive security control platform should be built in densely distributed areas of grotto temples.

To further explore the value of grotto temples, the circular said it is necessary to improve China’s archaeological research system, with a stable team of multi-disciplinary academic researchers. A sound talent cultivation system is needed to build up the pool of professionals engaged in archaeology, relic protection, and digitalization technology.

Digital methods can also help, the circular said, referring to creating a standard of data collection, processing, storage, and management in the grotto temple protection work.

To boost the quality of relic exhibitions, the circular called for improving visitor services, building more grotto temple museums, and innovating in online and offline exhibitions.

Excessive commercialization and entertainment should be prevented, and all tourism activities should be based on preservation, the circular said. It also proposed employing the appointment-based approach for grotto temples designated as world cultural heritages and key sites under State protection.

International cultural and academic communication and cooperation should be intensified in protecting grotto temples, the circular said.

Breakthroughs should be made in key technologies to support grotto temple protection, such as damage detection,wall-painting preservation and repair, and monitoring of rock mass stability.

The circular also mentioned reform and innovation in overall grotto temple protection mechanisms, including building national and regional key protection bases, improving management in government procurement, and strengthening engineering supervision.