Zhengyang Bookstore [Photo/Qianlong]
Born at the foot of the Forbidden City in 1980s, Cui Yong, a first-time deputy, put his highlight on vacation work in courtyards that belong to cultural relic protection sites during the annual session of Beijing Municipal People’s Congress in 2018.
He is the founder of Zhengyang Bookstore, a well-known Beijing-flavor bookstore. The bookstore houses tens of thousands of books on the history of Beijing, many of which are precious materials unavailable in libraries and archives. It is believed his relocation of the bookstore into the Pagoda of the Old Man of Wansong, a cultural relics site under the state protection once closed for nearly 800 years, is a new attempt to make good use of courtyards in the scope of cultural relics protection.
Before attending the session, Cui paid visits in downtown areas and wrote down a group of data in his bill that there are 363 courtyards in Xicheng District on the list of cultural relics protection, among which 165 or 46 percent of them are used for residential or other unreasonable purposes with safety hazards. In addition, 34 out of 57 guild halls and former residences of celebrities are used for residential or other unreasonable purposes with safety hazards, accounting for 60 percent of the total.
“These courtyards have witnessed the history of Beijing and they are Beijing’s most valuable cultural heritage,” Cui said. He proposed that related departments should take measures to encourage residents and entities to relocate from those courtyards so as to preserve the history of the city.