Chinese netizens are calling for strict punishment and more measures to
be taken to protect ancient buildings after a video showing people sell
parts of ancient houses built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and
Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) went viral on Chinese social media on Sunday.
to the video released by Kankan News, due to expensive restoration
costs, many locals in Huangshan City, East China's Anhui Province, who
lived in Ming and Qing houses have sold their homes to land agents in
order to move into better residences.
However, the land agents
have been selling parts of these purchased homes to rich collectors and
businessmen who use the parts as decorations for their hotels, scenic
spots or private clubs.
Since many of the old buildings in
Huangshan were built using a mortise and tenon technique instead of
being nailed together, they can be disassembled and assembled
repeatedly, which makes it it possible to move entire houses to other
provinces or even other countries.
"They are like furniture that
can be delivered to anywhere in the world," said one local businessman
in the video, adding that an old house with good wooden material can
sell more than 5 million yuan ($771, 510).
However, according to
the Protection of Ancient Houses in Anhui Province regulation, civil
buildings with historical value built before 1911 cannot be disposed of
privately, and owners and residents of those ancient dwellings must
abide by relevant national laws and regulations.
The existence of
this dark industry chain has angered many Chinese netizens, with many
criticizing the local government "for having done nothing."
couldn't believe it when I read the news! Those buildings are all
cultural treasures, but how can there be such an industrial chain? It
would be a big crime if they were sold overseas," one Chinese netizen
commented on Sina Weibo.
"Selling old dwellings is illegal," Shen Binti, a lawyer based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday.
According to Shen, increasing punitive measures might be an effective way to prevent such acts.
has been paying attention to protecting the traditional culture in
recent years. Cultural promotion and education for local residents about
the law are also very important," said Shen.
The video shows a
warehouse with piles of wood and wooden structures. The owner is heard
saying that if they are not disassembled, they may be recognized as
Tong Xingsheng, an expert in ancient building
restoration based in Beijing, told the Global Times that China's long
history means it has countless ancient buildings, which require more
professional heritage experts in each province and region to help take
care of them. He emphasized that it is important that cultural relic
identification rules be established as soon as possible.
He added that Beijing is a global tourist spot mainly due to its ancient historical buildings and traditional culture.
demolition and relocation of ancient buildings obscures history, which
is a big issue related to cultural identity and cultural security."