The Hangzhou Branch of the National Publications and Culture Archive of China Photo: IC
The institute’s three branches are located in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province (east China), Xi’an in Shaanxi Province (northwest), and Guangzhou in southern Guangdong Province.
In a bid to enhance the legacy of Chinese civilization, the central government began construction of the buildings in 2021.
Integrating exhibition halls, libraries, archives, museums and other functions, the archive collects physical embodiments of China’s “cultural heritage of publications”, such as ancient books, opera masks and stamps that document Chinese civilizations.
The establishment of the institute is one of the major cultural projects supported by the central government in China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25).
Zhang Yiwu, a professor at Peking University, told the Global Times on Sunday that the project will have a major impact on the heritage of Chinese culture and the preservation of the vast amount of Chinese texts created since the beginning of writing. in China.
Wu Xiaotian, head of the planning and implementation group of the institute’s headquarters, explained that the central location in Beijing will lead the coordination of national publishing resource planning, while the three branches will gather and cover the publishing resources for different regions locally. .
Unlike the main headquarters in Beijing which stores some of China’s most central cultural heritages, the Xi’an branch focuses in particular on the culture of northwestern China, known for the cosmopolitan Tang Dynasty (618- 907), while the Guangzhou branch focuses on Chinese Lingnan culture. , which encompasses iconic heritages such as Cantonese opera.
Located near the southern Qinling Mountains, the Xi’an branch is home to approximately 2.09 million copies of historical texts and 160 terabytes of digital resources.
The national-level project not only focuses on preservation, but also on education. For example, the Xi’an branch is currently holding two exhibitions of 2,343 texts so that visitors can learn more about the civilizations of the Silk Road.
“Although these archives are defined as ‘databases’ for China’s cultural genes, the interactive events serve the purposes of public education and transmission of culture. Therefore, I predict that this project will have a range various activities in the future that will make it even more influential,” historian and museum expert Sun Shuyi told the Global Times.
The three branches have several sections that not only serve as exhibition halls, but also as libraries and archives. For example, the Guangzhou branch covers an area of 246,900 square meters, and its Wenqin Pavilion can store about 2.65 million texts. Many of the rare publications in the archives have been donated by private collectors.
For example, 782 volumes of precious old books were donated by collector/businessman Jin Liang to the Hangzhou branch in 2021.
As a densely populated and industrialized area since ancient times, Hangzhou also bears the responsibility of preserving the culture of Jiangnan, which encompasses the eastern part of China.
The Hangzhou branch will also be responsible for academic communication between different branches and other types of institutions in China and around the world.
The branch is located near the Liangzhu Archaeological Ruins, which once housed an ancient regional state that had already started cultivating rice more than 5,000 years ago.
“The places are positioned to inherit traditional Chinese culture, which is why we chose the location near Liangzhu, an area where the 5,000-year-old Chinese civilization began,” said well-known architect Wang. Shu, who also designed and built the complex. local media.
To date, the Hangzhou complex, consisting of 13 units, has received a total of 1 million important texts such as The communist manifesto in various languages donated by local offices and bureaus and private collectors.
“Before the project, we understood the enormous importance of the program and the responsibility we bear. It is an archive of ancient books in the modern era and it is an institution for inheriting Chinese history and culture,” Wang added.
Wu said that in addition to preserving and transmitting culture, the archive will also enhance the cultural confidence of Chinese people, present a strong cultural image and promote dialogues among world civilizations.
Zhang, the professor, added that with the institute, more attention will certainly be given to Chinese texts, while research on these important works of culture will have a base camp.
A 28-year-old publisher by the name of Wei told the Global Times that the creation of the archive shows the central government’s interest in ancient texts and modern publications and that she is happy to see that these exquisite cultural products will be preserved for the future generations.