AN EMPEROR moved his capital from a remote north-eastern area to Beijing 850 years ago and now, people in the capital are facing a dilemma that many other cities face – the need to safeguard the past while continuing to build the future.
Li Zhun, a senior expert with the Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning, called for residents to think deeply about what kind of city they would leave to later generations as many ancient treasures are at the risk of disappearing due to rampant destruction and urbanisation.
“Our ancestors left us many priceless assets, including numerous cultural relics. They are the best material record of our past and identity and should therefore be better protected,” Li said at a history workshop to celebrate the 850th anniversary on Sunday.
Beijing is one of the cradles of human civilisation.
Some half a million years ago, Peking Man lived in Zhoukoudian, in the south-western suburbs of the city.
It took shape more than 3,000 years ago.
It had served as a military centre to different imperial dynasties and since the Liao and Jin dynasties (916-1234), Beijing gradually turned into the political centre it is today.
In 1153, Wanyan Liang, Prince Hailing of the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234), moved the capital from Shangjing (now the city of Acheng in Heilongjiang province) to Yanjing (the old name of Beijing) and renamed it Zhongdu or “Central Capital.”
It marked the beginning of Beijing's history as the capital city of a dynasty and thus its residents are celebrating the 850th anniversary between this month and the next.
Although Zhongdu only existed for around 60 years, it laid a solid foundation for the great future of Beijing, said Mei Ninghua, director of the Beijing Municipal Administrative Bureau of Cultural Relics. – China Daily
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