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Regulation to protect Kashgar's old city

By Cui Jia | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-03 06:53
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Performers dance during a gate-opening ceremony at the Kashgar old city in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region on Feb 4. CAI ZENGLE/FOR CHINA DAILY

Business owners and residents of Kashgar's old city in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region hope a regulation on its preservation will better protect the traditional neighborhood with its distinctive Uygur architecture and prevent it from being excessively commercialized.

The old city of Kashgar, in southern Xinjiang, is one of the largest surviving collections of earthen buildings in the world. Within seven years of the launch of a renovation project in 2010, the dilapidated houses were rebuilt, without changing their architectural characteristics or traditional Uygur lifestyles.

With improved infrastructure, residents of the old city, which has a history of more than 2,000 years, have started to lead safer and more comfortable lives and have also been placed in a position more suitable for boosting tourism.

But issues have surfaced during the rapid development of tourism in the old city, Li Xuejun, a member of the legislative committee of the Xinjiang regional people's congress — the local legislature — told a news conference on Monday.

"Because the responsibilities for the preservation of the old city have been unclear, some people are able to deliberately change the architectural appearance of the houses without gaining approval from the authorities," Li said. "It's necessary and urgent to introduce a regulation to protect the old city."

A regulation on the development of the old town covering the preservation of traditional culture, the promotion of traditional craftsmanship and the prevention of excessive commercialization will take effect on May 1.

The regulation bans people from changing and damaging the structure of historical buildings. Any decorative works on houses along the main streets must gain approval from the city government. It also encourages residents of the old city to take part in preservation activities and showcase local culture.

Wang Wei, owner of Muse Homestay in the old city, said she is glad the regulation is being introduced and hopes it can help to restore the charm of the old city.

"I fell in love with the old city when I first came to visit in 2019," Wang said. "It's sad to see it has become excessively commercialized so quickly. What's more, it seems that many businesses are out of place in the old city because they have ignored the importance of preserving the local culture.

"It's about time to regulate the businesses in the old city, which will benefit the local residents, business owners and tourists."

Abdulrekep Turmemet, a resident of the old city, said people have been talking about the introduction of the regulation since Monday.

"We all agree that the regulation can make people prioritize the preservation of the unique characteristics of the old city," he said. "We hope people who came to do business in the old city can treasure it as we do."

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