The government of Huangshan, Anhui Province, has encouraged members of the public to adopt ancient buildings in the city in a bid to better preserve local cultural relics.
People are welcome to use the buildings as residences or businesses as long as they promise to look after them.
People and organizations from both within and outside China are encouraged to help repair and protect the city's ancient architecture, according to a recent announcement by the government of Huangshan.
Renowned for its proximity to Yellow Mountain, Huangshan is also home to many ancient buildings in the Hui Style, featuring white walls and black tiles.
But statistics show that half of the 3,200 ancient buildings in the city need urgent repairs. Common problems include cracked rafter beams and damages caused by termites, carpenter bees and bristletails.
Funding for preservation efforts provided by the government and other cultural organizations has fallen short of the amount needed.
Wang Bohua, vice-president of the Yixian County bureau of cultural relics, said repair work on 50 ancient buildings last year had depleted the government funds available for relic protection.
It will cost some 10 million yuan ($1.3 million) every year to maintain the buildings, Wang added.
Search for ways to overcome such difficulties, the local government first floated the idea of allowing the public to play a role at the beginning of last year.
"People can help protect ancient architecture in two ways: Repairing the architecture themselves or offering financial support to local preservation groups," Wang said.
Participants will have the right to use, do business and live in old buildings. However, they will be prohibited from changing or destroying the style of the architecture or adding onto the buildings in any way.
The first batch of 106 ancient structures has been approved for use. Many of the buildings date back to the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. However, due to a lack of publicity, none of the 49 ancient buildings presented last year have been claimed.
"Based on the project's past failure, we have organized professional staff to update the printed material about the first batch of ancient architecture both in Chinese and English. We have also taken many high-quality photos," Wang said.
"We will improve the publicity effort and make the utmost use of television, newspapers and the Internet," Wang added.
Relics experts have supported the move. There are 1,022 ancient villages, 6,908 ancient buildings and over 100 memorial archways in Anhui Province, and any attempt to protect these relics should be promoted and encouraged," said Yao Shunlai, an architecture expert. (Source: China Daily)