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Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center (CHP) is a small grassroots, legally-registered NGO working to protect cultural heritage across China.

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CHP X UNESCO: ‘Good Tourism’ and Cultural Heritage Preservation from the Grassroots in China

On 14 October 2017, Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center (CHP) and UNESCO jointly held a forum on ‘Good Tourism’ and Heritage Preservation from the Grassroots in China at Temple 东景缘, Beijing. Representatives from UNESCO, Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage, Beijing Guowenyan Cultural Heritage Conservation Center Co. Ltd, and CHP gave speeches, sharing practices and outlooks for cultural heritage and ‘good tourism’.

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Cultural heritage preservation is facing great opportunities and challenges from the development of China’s tourism industry. Issues to consider include how best to use the power of civilians and protect cultural heritage beyond government resolutions through individual actions. In the opening speech, representative from UNESCO Beijing Office, Marielza Oliveira spoke on the new concept of ‘good tourism’ contained within ‘ecological tourism’ and ‘green tourism’ ‘low-carbon tourism’. UNESCO advocates ‘good tourism—effectively promoting development of heritage protection’, based on principles of inclusion and diversity.

According to World Tourism Organisation data, cultural tourism has an important place in tourism development. The list of UNESCO World Heritage sites has benefitted economic development, providing employment, improving people’s livelihoods and promoting local sustainable development. However, if managed improperly, cultural tourism can lead to negative consequences that cannot be brushed easily aside. The principles behind ‘good tourism’ are in line with many UN sustainable development goals. Ms Oliveira believes that ‘good tourism’ can be used to protect cultural heritage effectively, so that they can progress hand in hand.

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Government policy and guidance cannot be ignored, says Ms Oliveira, yet local public participation should be strengthened, guaranteeing cultural and economic development. Particularly in China, ‘good tourism’ which pursues good thoughts matched with actions, aligns with the Chinese thought that ‘Knowledge and action are one’ as well as the pursuit of harmony. The goal of ‘good tourism’ is to bring tourists, policymakers, tourism operators, managers and local communities together in the joint promotion of tourism to the benefit of all parties. With so many gathered at this forum, hopefully more voices on ‘good tourism’ and cultural heritage will be heard.

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A full house, keen listeners

UNESCO Programme Specialist for Culture Himalchuli Gurung, shared the results from 2011 ‘good tourism’. Taking ‘UNESCO and sustainable tourism: a project to which UNESCO is committed’ as her theme, she clarified the relationship between ‘good tourism’ and sustainable tourism. While the essence of both concepts is the same, ‘good tourism’ is the practice of sustainable tourism in China, which places respecting local residents and tourists, cultural heritage and the local environment at its core.

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Ms Gurung introduced UNESCO’s many sustainable tourism practices. In planning cultural heritage, UNESCO takes the 3C strategy of: community, communication, and conservation. Right at the start of planning, local community residents should be positively involved in protection of cultural heritage. As an intergovernmental organisation, UNESCO has four main tasks: promoting policies, providing guidance, building capacity and pilot tourism. She introduced the work UNESCO had organised within the ‘Silk Road’ initiative and the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation Programme, emphasising the power of people participating, and promoting the significance of communication and cooperation between the public and private realms.  Particularly as Temple Hotel, provider of the venue and the forum’s sponsor, previously won an award for cultural heritage protection, many in the audience were moved by personally being in this setting.

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Researcher Zhang Yimeng from China Cultural Heritage Research Centre Protecting the Great Wall ‘World Heritage Protection and Management of Great Wall tourism’. Westerners began visiting the Great Wall from the 19th century onwards. Its first restoration followed the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1952. A survey of Great Wall resources found that protection of the Wall was far from satisfactory. Out of 20,000 km of the Great Wall, only 10 percent was protected well. For one third of the wall, traces on the ground are now indiscernible. People are not only unfamiliar with the Great Wall, but also with existing regulations and laws on its protection. Conflicts and contradictions between protecting the Great Wall and developing tourism have naturally emerged. As a symbol of China, it is popular with both local and foreign tourists. The Badaling section of the Great Wall alone received 8 million visitors in 2016. While the precipitous Jiankou section of the Great Wall has yet to open, this does not deter tourists, endangering both the Wall and tourists themselves. One foot of the Great Wall is covered in graffiti and bad travel manners are seen everywhere. Mr Zhang proposes abiding by the law, starting with tourists themselves. Tourists should check their own behaviour to better protect the Wall, which has stood in China for thousands of years.

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Director Zou Yiqing of Beijing’s Wen Yan Cultural Heritage Protection Centre Co Ltd, spoke on the Jingmai tea plantation, new to many in the audience. Research was carried out on 17662.41 hectares of the Pu’er Jingmai plantation is based in Yunnan’s Lancang Country in the Hui Township. The plantation is rich with ethnic minorities, natural cultural materials and non-material heritage resources including ancient tea trees, traditional villages and houses, handicrafts and social customs. To better protect and develop natural cultural heritage there, Zou led a team to the village, who began to build close relationships with local residents, including villagers, headsmen, interviewing cadres, communicating with and training construction workers, management departments and village cadres, trying to balance the interests of all parties. On this foundation, they made the village not only a heritage site but also more importantly, a home for villagers, conducting surveys of fields, understanding local traditions, and inspecting the Mang Hong Ethnic Culture School. To address villagers’ needs, they supported developing the tea industry, and villagers opening hostels to push sustainable development in the village.

Last to share was Hu Xinyu, director of Beijing’s Cultural Heritage Protection Center (CHP) who took listeners on a ‘stroll in old Beijing’, a city familiar with the audience. In his view, ‘strolling’, shared bikes and public transport are the best ways to travel through old Beijing. In the past, old Beijing was composed of hutongs (alleyways). In the early days of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, there were 3073 hutongs. According to statistics in 2005, this dropped to 1353, and more than 200 disappeared this year.

What is today’s old Beijing? To better understand its status of protection, in 2016 CHP began their “Liuwar project”. CHP invited more than 160 volunteers to participate in social research, collecting together the conditions of hutongs and their protection status. The project’s aim was to increase public awareness of old Beijing and hutongs, and show that strolling around is best for Beijing hutongs. The survey of old Beijing and the “Liuwar” database is expected to be completed later this year. One research achievement, the “Hutong Handbook” has already been published.

Many small and beautiful projects can be seen not only in CHP, but also Beijing Design Week which just ended, and in the Shijia Hutong Museum. ‘Bigger and better’ does not necessarily have to be Beijing’s development goal. And who can change that? Starting small, we personally can make small contributions. Collected together, these can become a huge trend that can help us see old Beijing.

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Beijing’s CHP Mr Hu Xinyu takes us on a ‘stroll’ in old Beijing

At the forum, Beijing’s CHP puts forward ‘good tourism’ rules, from the perspective of cultural heritage protection. CHP hopes the public can be self-aware and follow these rules, show good travel manners, enjoy travelling and at the same time, better protect cultural heritage, and promote the sustainable development of heritage:

1. Protect cultural relics and historical sites

2. Use public transport

3. Choose local accommodation, guides or travel itineraries with a social mission

4. Obtain the agreement of residents before photographing or filming their residences

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The event ended with a group photo and received souvenirs prepared by CHP

Translation by Lavender Au

CHP Job Postings: Program Manager and Project Officer

Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center is hiring for two positions: Program Manager (full time) and Project Officer (part time) please read the full posting below:


1. Program Manager – Full Time

招聘职位:项目主管——全职

Job Purpose

The Program Manager oversees the planning, implementation, and tracking of cultural heritage projects. Tasks may include overseeing large, multi-stage projects like “Project: Walk the Old City” or organizing lectures or public events. The Program Manager is responsible for planning, executing and delivering results for projects.

职位描述

项目主管负责文化遗产保护项目的策划、实施和跟踪。工作内容包括负责大型的,多个阶段的项目,如“老北京遛弯儿计划”项目或组织开展讲座等公众宣传活动等。项目主管需负责整个项目的策划、具体执行和项目产出。

Primary Duties and Responsibilities 工作职责

The Program Manager performs a wide range of duties including some or all of the following:

项目主管工作职责包括以下几重:

Contribute to project planning 项目筹划

  • Define the scope of the project in collaboration with CHP management

与CHP管理层确定项目的目标和范围

  • Create a detailed work plan which identifies and sequences the activities needed to successfully complete the project

制定详细的工作计划,包括确定和列出能够成功完成项目所需的活动

  • Determine the resources (time, money, equipment, etc) required to complete the project

确定项目完成所需的资源,包括项目时间、资金预算、所需设备器材等。

  • Develop a schedule for project completion

制定完整的项目进度表

  • Determine the objectives and measures upon which the project will be evaluated at its completion

制定项目完成后的评估指标和方法

Manage Volunteers 志愿者管理

  • Help recruit, interview and select volunteers with appropriate skills for the project activities.

协助招募、面试和选择适合项目的志愿者

  • Manage volunteers in accordance with the project goals

根据项目目标管理志愿者

Implement projects 项目执行

  • Execute the project according to the agreed upon plan

根据既定计划执行项目

  • Develop forms and records to document project activities

创建记录项目各项活动的表格和录音等文档

  • Set up files to ensure that all project information is appropriately documented and secured

建立项目文档,确保项目信息能够得到记录和保护

  • Monitor the progress of the project and make adjustments as necessary to ensure the successful completion of the project

监督项目的进度,并进行必要的调整以确保项目的顺利完成

  • Establish a communication schedule to update stakeholders including appropriate staff in the organization on the progress of the project

建立项目相关人员的沟通渠道并更新利益相关方,包括项目各阶段机构中的相关工作人员。

  • Review the quality of the work completed with the project team on a regular basis to ensure that it meets the project standards

定期与项目团队回顾和总结已完结项目的效果,确保与项目目标一致。

Manage project finances 项目资金管理

  • Write reports on the project for management and for funders

向管理层和捐赠机构提交项目报告

  • Communicate with funders as outlined in funding agreements

与捐赠机构确定清晰地捐赠协议

  • Monitor and approve all budgeted project expenditures

监督和审批所有项目支出

  • Monitor cash flow projections and report actual cash flow and variance to senior management on a regular basis.

监控现金流预测并定期向高级管理层汇报实际的现金流量和差异

  • Manage all project funds according to established accounting policies and procedures

根据已建立的会计制度和程序管理所有的项目资金

  • Ensure that all financial records for the project are up to date

跟进和更新项目的所有财务记录

  • Prepare financial reports and supporting documentation for funders as outlined in funding agreements

根据捐赠协议,向捐赠方准备财务报告和财务相关记录

Evaluate the project 项目评估

  • Ensure that the project deliverables are on time, within budget and at the required level of quality

确保按时提交项目可交付的成果,且在预算内,到达所要求的水准。

  • Evaluate the outcomes of the project as established during the planning phase

评估在项目计划之处确立的成果

Qualifications 职位要求

Education 教育

  • University Degree in a related subject 大学本科学历,相关专业

Languages 语言要求

  • Working proficiency in both English and Chinese is required for this position

熟练的中英文书面和口语表达能力

Relevant skills or expertise in Cultural Heritage in China, NGO work, fundraising and translation are  encouraged but not required.

在文化遗产、NGO领域,或在筹款和翻译有相关经验者更佳。


2. Project Officer – Part Time

招聘职位:项目专员——兼职

Job Purpose

The part-time Project Officer will assist on specific projects as assigned by the Program Manager. Tasks may include managing grants, engaging donors, and implementing projects. The part-time Project Officer is responsible for planning, executing and delivering results for all assigned projects.

职责描述

项目专员将协助项目主管承担指定的具体项目。工作内容包括管理项目资金、维护捐助者和实施项目。项目专员负责所有指定项目的计划、执行和交付成果。

Primary Duties and Responsibilities工作职责

The Project Officer performs a wide range of duties including some or all of the following:

项目主管工作职责包括以下几重:

Contribute to project planning 项目筹划

  • Set specific goals for CHP’s involvement in large grants and projects.

为CHP参与大型筹款和项目设立目标

  • Create a detailed work plan which identifies and sequences the activities needed to successfully complete the project

制定详细的工作计划,包括确定和列出能够成功完成项目所需的活动

  • Determine the resources (time, money, equipment, etc) required to complete the project

确定项目完成所需的资源,包括项目时间、资金预算、所需设备器材等。

  • Develop a schedule for project completion

制定完整的项目进度表

Manage Volunteers 志愿者管理

  • Help recruit, interview and select volunteers with appropriate skills for the project activities.

协助招募、面试和选择适合项目的志愿者

  • Manage volunteers in accordance with the project goals

根据项目目标管理志愿者

Implement projects项目执行

  • Execute the project according to the agreed upon plan

根据既定计划执行项目

  • Monitor the progress of the project and make adjustments as necessary to ensure the successful completion of the project

监督项目的进度,并进行必要的调整以确保项目的顺利完成

  • Review the quality of the work completed with the project team on a regular basis to ensure that it meets the project standards

定期与项目团队回顾和总结已完结项目的效果,确保与项目目标一致。

  • Keep good records of progress

做好项目进展的记录工作

Manage project finances 项目资金管理

  • Write reports on the project for management and for funders

向管理层和捐赠机构提交项目报告

  • Communicate with funders as outlined in funding agreements

与捐赠机构确定清晰地捐赠协议

  • Monitor and approve all budgeted project expenditures

监督和审批所有项目支出

Assist in External Communications协助外部沟通

  • Assist in public communications on social media, newsletter and website

协助维护和运营微信公众号、微博、CHP月讯和网站等

  • Communicate with members of the media

联络相关媒体,维护与媒体的关系

Qualifications 职位要求

Education 教育

  • University Degree in a related subject 大学本科学历,相关专业

Languages 语言要求

  • Basic written and spoken English ability, proficiency preferred.
基本的英语书面和口语表达能力,熟练者更佳。

Relevant skills or expertise in Cultural Heritage in China, NGO work, fundraising and translation are  encouraged but not required.

在文化遗产、NGO领域,或在筹款和翻译有相关经验者更佳。

有意者请发送简历至 zhangpei@bjchp.org , 标题请注明应聘职位。

DO YOU HUTONG? Event Summary

CHP Cultural Heritage Day’s Special Event: “DO YOU HUTONG?”

June 11 (the second Saturday in June) marked China’s 11th Cultural Heritage Day. This year’s theme was  “Cultural Heritage & Our Modern Lives”. This theme perfectly fit the venue for CHP’s Cultural Heritage Day events, “Do You Hutong? Four Hutong Talks”: we were lucky enough to hold our lecture in the beautiful architecture of Temple 东景缘.

Our volunteers and attendees loved the elegant blend of traditional and modern styles that Temple 东景缘‘s Ming Dynasty temple embodies. We are again so grateful to Temple 东景缘 for supporting this event. Further, their efforts to preserve Old Beijing and respectfully preserve the cultural heritage of the temple building were praised by all in attendance.

Saturday’s event, “DO YOU HUTONG” consisted of three parts:

  • First, we stationed our volunteers in the area around Temple to talk to the public about Cultural Heritage Day and distribute “I LOVE HUTONG” bumper stickers.
  • Next, our main event, “DO YOU HUTONG” began in the Main Hall of Temple. Using the TED talk format, four specialists from differing fields introduce their perspectives on protecting the cultural heritage of Beijing’s hutongs.
  • Following, CHP summarized the work we have done on Phase I of “Project Walk the Old City” and acknowledged the volunteers who helped us complete it.
  • Lastly, we hosted a BBQ dinner for volunteers at the Courtyard Institute. In this relaxed event, both the volunteers and CHP staff were able to talk, share ideas, and mingle in the beautiful summer weather.

“I LOVE HUTONG” Bumper Stickers

The afternoon of Cultural Heritage Day, CHP hutong survey volunteers were stationed at the North Gate of the Forbidden City and Nanluoguxiang. Volunteers handed out  “I LOVE HUTONG” bumper stickers and flyers with information about Cultural Heritage Day and CHP’s work.

The goal of this event was not only to promote public awareness for Cultural Heritage Day, but also to encourage the public to take interest in Beijing’s heritage and CHP’s protection efforts.

Many members of the public expressed strong interest: some put their bumper stickers directly on their bags, some members of the public also signed up to be volunteers; we even had one Taiwanese friend who decided on the spot to join for the afternoon’s lectures!

DO YOU HUTONG? Lecture

The main event of Saturday’s activities was the “Do You Hutong?” lectures at Temple’s Main Hall. Using the TED talk format we invited hutong specialists from four different fields to present to the public their research on Beijing’ history.

To start the event, the founder of the Temple Hotel, Juan van Wassenhove, gave the opening remarks. Mr. van Wassenhove spoke on his passion for Old Beijing’s cultural heritage and his comprehensive restoration of the Temple compound. Mr. van Wassenhove’s great undertaking at the Temple is not only a incredible achievement in traditional restoration, but also beautifully demonstrates how modern functionality can be blended with traditional forms to breathe new life to the heritage structures.

Following Mr. van Wassenhove’s remarks, CHP’s Head of Board of Directors, Matthew Hu, introduced CHP,  “Project Walk the Old City,” and screened the documentary filmed during the renovation of the Temple Hotel.

Our first speaker then took the stage, Li Fei, a photographer from Beijing News.  Mr. Li is a native Beijinger and avid photographer of the city’s culture, people and history.

During his time at Beijing News, his photography column “Beijing Geography” 《北京地理》 ran for nearly 10 years with over 700 installments. The subject of his lecture was “The Central Axis of Beijing.” He shared selected photographs with the audience, explaining the unique moments he captured and his love for the city of Beijing.

Our second presenter, architect Zhu Qipeng then took the stage. With humor and wit, Mr. Zhu discussed his research into the history of Hong’en Guan (宏恩观) located at the northern part of the Bell Tower at Zhangwang Hutong. Hong’en Guan is hardly Beijing’s most famous temple, however it does represent a diverse history: initially a Daoist Temple, after Liberation the site was converted into factories, then in more recent years, the Drum Tower vegetable market and a café.

As an architect, Mr. Zhu was able to observe the various historical styles layered upon the ancient structure. Between 2012 and 2014, he made many visits to the site and conducted close examinations of the grand architecture. Then, he took his findings about each historical period and created 3D projections illustrating the architecture and use over time. Through these visuals the different styles and methods that each generation has left behind are easy to see – forcing the viewer to consider that perhaps the ever-changing nature of the hutongs is in itself a manner of preservation.

Hailing from Denmark, our next speaker, Lars Ulrik Thom arrived in China in 1996. He fell in love with both Beijing and the hutongs and from this passion created his company, Beijing Postcards, which collects and sells old maps and photographs of Beijing. Beijing Postcards and CHP have worked closely together over time: most recently he has contributed his time and knowledge as a hutong survey volunteer.

Mr. Thom encouraged the audience to clarify what “Old Beijing” truly means. Further, he suggested that we narrow our vision: the last hundred years’ history is certainly worth understanding and protecting but the last 10-20 years, have held important changes as well.

The fourth presenter, Professor Ju Xi comes from Beijing Normal University. Prof. Ju guided us through mid-eighteenth century Beijing. Using the Qianlong map of Beijing, she brought to life an ordinary Beijing neighborhood and shed light on the lives and society of the people living in the hutongs at that time.

The final part of our event was CHP’s report on the first part of our survey’s progress. We appreciated the hard work of our 160 volunteers and thanked them to conclude the event.

These four engaging speakers offered perspectives that made us think deeply about the future of the hutongs and offered different viewpoints on the city’s history. This knowledge has been invaluable especially as we continue our hutong survey project.

Post-event BBQ

Following the lectures, our speakers and volunteers joined us at Courtyard Institute for an open-air  BBQ.  In the relaxed atmosphere, all who wanted to continue talking about hutong preservation were able to chat and exchange ideas. Night descended on the traditional courtyard, bringing our “Do You Hutong” event and Cultural Heritage Day to an end.

Although Cultural Heritage Day is only one day of the year, we hope our event represents a launching point for continued efforts to preserve heritage in Beijing during the upcoming year.

Special Thanks:

We extend our thanks to the organizations and volunteers that made this event possible.

Temple 东景缘 for generously providing the venue and refreshments

The Courtyard Institute for generously providing

Bumper sticker volunteers: Guo Yuhan, Qin Yun, Xu Qing, Liu Huiting and family, Liu Bingxue, Wang Hongguang, Huai Baohua (photography).

Our event volunteers: Sun Yue, Zhang Yue, Li Wen.

Thanks to all of “Project Walk the Old City” hutong survey volunteers.

Additional thanks to Olivia Holder for translating this piece.

DO YOU HUTONG? Cultural Heritage Day Special Event

Join the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center (CHP) as we celebrate Cultural Heritage Day on Saturday, June 11. To honor this day, we have organized a series of TED style talks on Beijing’s hutongs and Cultural Heritage protection. We will be joined by four experts who will be speaking on these issues - each expert will address one aspect of Beijing’s hutongs (note: the lectures will be held in Chinese). We will also be joined by Juan van Wassenhove, founder of Temple 东景缘 for opening remarks and the screening of the documentary made about the restoration of the temple. More information and registration information here.


Following the event we invite you to join CHP and our volunteers for an informal BBQ dinner at the nearby Courtyard Institute. A separate ticket is needed for dinner – purchase here.

6月11号 event poster

Heritage Trails: Dongsi Jiutiao

Project: Walk the Old City- Beijing Hutong Conservation Status Survey has been running for its first month. Volunteer teams have already surveyed over 300 hutongs, collecting and updating information on the present state of conservation. In conjunction with the survey, Historian Jeremiah Jenne will be highlighting the history behind one hutong from each of Beijing’s 33 heritage zones. His second article is on Dongsi Jiutiao is part of the Dongsi Beisantiao to Batiao Historic Protection Zone.

Approached from either end, Dongsi Jiutiao (东四九条) appears to be a singularly unexceptional, even ugly, hutong. The eastern end, where Dongsi Jiutiao meets Chaoyangmen Beixiaojie, features a few scrubby recycling yards in the shadow of the enormous Xinhua Insurance building. The western approach, where the hutong runs into Dongsi Beidajie, is a mess of construction as another branch of the Rujia Hotel chain rises over the street.

Rujia

Rujia Hotel

Like its neighbor, Dongsi Batiao, it is under serious threat. On a warm spring morning, construction workers outnumbered local residents on the street two-to-one, and the area has no fewer than five major construction projects currently underway. The steady creep of gentrification is also apparent. In addition to the Maoist kitsch restaurant and bar Red Capital Club, a longtime neighborhood stalwart, there are two other hostels/restaurants open for business. From the looks of several of the sites under construction, it would appear that they may soon face some new competition.

Construction Site on Dongsi Jiutiao

Construction Site on Dongsi Jiutiao

Yet Dongsi Jiutiao was once home to several famous figures and when the visitor leaves the bustling main streets behind, is still an attractive and interesting place for a stroll.

Number 34

Number 34

The rather nondescript yard at #34 was the last residence of one of modern Chinese history’s most famous spies, Kawashima Yoshiko (1908-1948). She was born Aisin-Gioro Xianyu to an elite Manchu family in 1908 but was adopted and raised in Japan by the Japanese nationalist Kawashima Naniwa, who named her Yoshiko. By the 1920s, Yoshiko had returned to China where she became notorious for her behavior and a series of high-profile affairs with powerful men. It was also about this time that Yoshiko began a lifelong habit of dressing, speaking, and wearing her hair like a man. During the War with Japan, Yoshiko identified herself as a Manchu patriot and participated in a number of clandestine operations on behalf of the Japanese and the government of the puppet state of Manchukuo. It probably helped that the ruler of Manchukuo at the time was her cousin, the Emperor Puyi. Her exploits made her famous, but by the time she moved to Dongsi Jiutiao in the early 1940s, she was dealing with depression and drug addiction. She lived as a semi-recluse with her assistant Ogata Hachiro and her four pet monkeys. On October 11, 1945, her seclusion came to a brutal end, when the police barged through her door and dragged Kawashima Yoshiko out of her home. With a bag covering her head, she was hustled into a waiting car and driven a short distance to the Paoju Prison, located just east of Yonghegong. She was put on trial as a collaborator and traitor a month later. In 1948, she was executed in the Paoju Prison yard by a single shot to the back of her skull.

Another famous former resident was Li Shiyao (ca. 1715-1788), although the exact address of his courtyard is not known. He was a descendent of Li Yongfang, the first Ming officer to surrender to the Manchus. As a result of their ancestor’s having turned his coat, the family was given titles of nobility and enrolled in the Chinese Blue Banner. Li Shiyao, the great-great-great grandson of Li Yongfang, held many important posts during the reign of the Emperor Qianlong. During his long career, he was appointed governor-general for Guangdong and Guangxi, Hubei and Hunan, and Yunnan and Guizhou. In the capital, he served terms as President of the Board of Revenue and the Board of Punishments. Li Shiyao had inherited his ancestor’s Earldom and through his own accomplishments had his family promoted to the more prestigious Chinese Bordered Yellow Banner. Li Shiyao’s later career was marred by a series of scandals. He was put on trial and sentenced to death on several occasions, only to have his life spared and his titles restored whenever his services were required by the emperor. While certainly corrupt, he did have the misfortune of serving in an era notorious for crookedness on a grand scale. Li Shiyao also made powerful enemies, notably Heshen, perhaps the most corrupt official in Chinese history, and Heshen’s crony, the Manchu noble Fuk’anggan. He was also known for being haughty and living luxuriously, as well as for being very, very short. Li Shiyao is also famous for being one of the principal architects of the “Canton System,” which regulated all European trade with the Qing Empire starting in 1760 and lasting until the Opium War of 1840. Finally, Dongsi Jiutiao once featured the palace of an Imperial prince. Aisin-Gioro I-Mo, a grandson of the Jiaqing Emperor, had his palace at what is today #69 Dongsi Jiutiao. Unfortunately, in 2000, most of the palace was torn down to build the Dongsi Jiutiao Primary School.

School

Dongsi Jiutiao Primary School.

In its heyday, the garden was famous for the beauty of its pools, corridors, pavilions and buildings. One contemporary marveled at the garden’s ingenious winding and artful layout. After the fall of the Qing Empire, the palace and garden became the home of banker Feng Gengguang. During that time, the Peking Opera star Mei Lanfang filmed a scene in the garden for 黛玉葬花 daiyu zanghua (Daiyu Burying the Flowers). One other feature of interest along Dongsi Jiutiao are the intricate carvings found on several of the older gates in the lane, most notably at #57.

Carving

Carvings at Number 57

Sadly, the pace and scale of construction on Dongsi Jiutiao and Dongsi Batiao threaten to obscure what little of this history is left. In addition to the new hotels, several of the older structures have been torn down to be rebuilt as high-end courtyards for sale or rent. On Dongsi Batiao, workers had ripped down an old courtyard. In its place was a deep pit which spanned north almost to Dongsi Jiutiao. Taking a picture of this elaborate plan for multiple basements spurred two officious looking gentlemen, who had previously been lounging in a nearby doorway, into action suggesting that aspects of this project might not be entirely according to city or district code.

pit

Construction Site on Dongsi Jiutiao

It is hardly the only such project on the street, and the steady erosion of history on Dongsi Jiutiao is another reminder of the need to monitor the preservation status of Beijing’s older neighborhoods.

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