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Seek Future of Historical Villages and Towns in Meishan, China

CHENGDU, China, June 6, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- From June 10 to 12, 2019, the international conference on the future of historical villages and towns sponsored by UNESCO will hold in Meishan, Sichuan province, China. Around 180 guests at home and abroad, including government officials from participant countries, representatives from international organizations, the World Bank, and globally renowned experts and universities, will attend the event, according to the People's Government of Meishan.

By sharing paradigm practices and future initiatives from around the globe, the conference aims to improve the relationship between small villages and large cities against the backdrop of global urbanization, thus realizing flexible development in a secure, tolerant and sustainable manner.

Why did UNESCO choose this city in West China? It is because Meishan is the prefecture-level city nearest to Chengdu. Neighboring to Shuangliu International Airport, Meishan boasts convenient transport and prominent location. As an integral part of the state-level Tianfu New Zone, Meishan is becoming the highland for opening-up and investment of great vigor, potential and business opportunities in West China, where the number of settlers of World Top 500 enterprises is only second to Chengdu.

While Sichuan marks an important tourism destination in the world, Meishan stands out in the province with its charms in "Culture + Landscape + Food". It was rated as the top tourism destination (among second-/third-tier cities) in Asia-Pacific region by Pacific Asia Travel Association as early as in 2016.

With a civilization history of over 5,000 years and prefectural existence of some 2,300 years, Meishan is home to Su Dongpo, the literary giant in ancient China. This is the place where the oldest ever men in Chinese history live, where the miraculous bamboo weaving skills were invented, and where over 100 "intangible cultural heritages" are passed down. With unparalleled natural conditions and profound humanistic history, Meishan is home to plenty of towns that sustain traditional humanistic features and impressive natural environment and feature the Dongpo culture, longevity culture, Taoism culture, Buddhism culture, bamboo culture, water culture and food culture. As of today, there are 5 villages listed as the national traditional villages and 14 as the provincial traditional villages in Meishan.

Over the years, local governments and people have accumulated abundant experience in boosting the rural development. It has not only well preserved the traditional features of the towns and villages, but also enhanced the well-being of local residents. This is one of the main reasons why it's favored by UNESCO.

The Happy Ancient Village, selected as the Most Beautiful Ancient Village in China in 2018, is an exceptional example of traditional village protection and development in Meishan. As the outdoor scene of the Corner beyond Reach of Love, China's first romantic movie that was staged in 1981, the Happy Ancient Village is known for such historic relics as the Tea Horse Ancient Road, Salt Iron Ancient Road and stone bridge from the Qing dynasty. As one of the few well-preserved ancient villages in Sichuan, this village has become the most popular tourism destination in Sichuan for its modern development on traditional basis. It has been entitled the "A Specialty for a Village" model village in China, the famous village for ecology and culture in China, and the famous model village for rural tourism in China.

Apart from the protective development, the heritance and development of traditional craftsmanship is also the key to the revitalization of ancient towns in Meishan. Qingshen Bamboo Weaving Products, one of Meishan's great traditions, are rated the National Geographical Indication Products in China. Dating back to 2008, luxurious brands Hermes collaborate with this technique to make it part of the fashion. Qingshen bamboo weaving has become the backbone industry in Meishan, offering jobs to over 10,000 local farmers.

Liujiang Ancient Town in Hongya County, established approximately 800 years ago, features intangible cultural heritages such as cattle lantern, dragon lantern and lion lantern and cultural relics including Zeng's Garden. Acclaimed as the "Leisurely Slow Life Experience Town in China", it has reserved the ancient architectural form of stilted buildings, ancient culinary tradition of nine-bowl meals, and a variety of traditional lifestyles. It fully maintains the traditional living patterns on one hand, and forms a humanistic scene combining the past and the present on the other.

Traditional villages are the root of excellent traditional culture and the living heritage of culture and nature. As an old dock on the Minjiang Ancient Waterway, Hanyang Ancient Town boasts relatively well-preserved historic streets and original customs. Cultural relics such as the Foguang Temple and Huoshen Temple are still available now. The privately-owned Hanyang Library is known for its exquisite design. The library, post office and comprehensive cultural station are perfectly mingled with the ancient town.

Today, the world witnesses a 55% urbanization rate, which is climbing year after year. The urbanization development has exerted great influence on the lifestyle of urban and rural residents. Now that China has the second largest rural population in the world, 578 million in total, the Chinese government has accumulated abundant experience in seeking the development paths for historic towns. Meishan is the city that does best in this regard.

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