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China Focus:National cultural parks enshrining Chinese ethos

BEIJING, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- Every weekend, Yang Jie spends at least a morning at a book house by the 6,300 km-long Yangtze River, reading while sipping a cup of coffee.

Located in Jiujiang City, east China's Jiangxi Province, the book house derives its name from a classical Chinese poem about a lady playing pipa, a pear-shaped plucked lute. The structure looks like this traditional instrument from a bird's eye view.

There are more than 5,000 books free for reading, along with a coffee shop on the first floor and a tearoom on the third floor. "I cannot take my eyes off the books. No way," said Yang, a local resident, marveling at the cornucopia of reading choices.

After reading, she might stroll through an immersive exhibition of the poem at a namesake pavilion not far away.

The facilities are part of the Yangtze River National Cultural Park, which spans 13 provincial regions from Tibet and Qinghai in the west to Shanghai and Jiangsu in the east.

China is building national cultural parks dedicated to the Great Wall, the Grand Canal, the Long March, the Yellow River and the Yangtze River, which are considered defining symbols of Chinese culture.

By promoting cultural prosperity and working to develop a strong culture, China is trying to provide inspiration for its further growth and national rejuvenation, said experts, adding that the parks are built to display its fine traditional, revolutionary, and advanced socialist cultures.

The Yangtze River national park, for example, runs across ancient cultural regions, including the Ba and Shu cultures in the southwest, the Chu culture in the central regions, and the Wu and Yue cultures in the east.

Over 40 world cultural heritage sites, world heritage irrigation structures, and globally important agricultural heritage systems are spread along its course.

Construction of such national parks entails efforts to pool antiques and cultural resources, apply the management and operation of parks, and realize functions including heritage conservation, inheritance and utilization, education, tourism, recreation and scientific research, said authorities.

The Jiujiang-based book house has received more than 70,000 visits since its inception in June.

In the central province of Hunan, clear waters roll by a pagoda in Yueyang, a 2,500-year-old city. A natural and cultural park has taken shape on the deserted beach, once buried in weeds and dotted by piles of sand and gravel.

"Environment plus culture, this is our approach to the Yangtze in the new era," said Luo Xiaobo, a local official.

Construction of the Yangtze River national park started in late 2021.

Second to the Yangtze in length, the Yellow River also contributes a vital part to Chinese civilization.

For more than 3,000 years, the Yellow River basin was the political, economic, and cultural center of the country. It is home to the ancient capital cities of Zhengzhou, Xi'an, Luoyang and Kaifeng and witnessed the birth of four epochal inventions -- printing techniques, papermaking, gunpowder and the compass. It is also the place where the Book of Songs and other ancient Chinese classics were written.

The basin also boasts rich revolutionary legacies, as it is associated with the Long March of Red Army soldiers in the 1930s, former old revolutionary bases such as Yan'an, and the Yellow River Cantata.

The latter was composed by Xian Xinghai in 1939 and proved a tremendous uplift for Chinese people fighting their war of resistance against Japanese aggression.

A construction and conservation plan for the Yellow River park was released earlier this year.

The Long March has its dedicated national park, though. It spans 15 provincial regions, including Fujian and Jiangxi in the east, Guangdong and Guangxi in the south, and Gansu and Ningxia in the northwest.

At a museum in southwest China's Guizhou Province, audiences could revisit the Zunyi Meeting, once crucial to the success of the Long March and the Chinese revolution, with the help of virtual reality technologies.

"It was astonishing. Now I know more about the harsh tests the soldiers experienced during the Long March," said Wang Minmin, a visitor.

China expects a world-class national park system dedicated to the Long March by 2035.

The iconic Great Wall is China's most colossal cultural heritage structure.

Experts said that the structure has its most outstanding core value in that it is the incarnation of virtues of the Chinese nation, which include solidarity, patriotism, tenacity, uncompromising self-improvement, championing peace, openness, and inclusiveness.

Its national park is composed of four sections: the conservation area, exhibition area, culture and tourism area, and utilization area, according to its construction and conservation plan, released in 2021.

Known as flowing cultural heritage, the Grand Canal is nearly 3,200 km long and runs vertically across eight provincial regions, including Beijing and Jiangsu.

A flagship project of the park, the Yangzhou-based China Grand Canal Museum opened to the public in June 2021. Tickets for weekend days are often snapped up quickly after release on its booking platform, said Zheng Jing, curator of the museum.

Construction of the Grand Canal, the Great Wall, the Long March, and the Yellow River parks are expected to be roughly finished by 2025.

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