Su Bomin, a deputy to the National People's Congress from northwest China's Gansu Province (LI WEI WEI)
The cultivation of professional staff and the promotion of basic scientific research are important for the preservation of cultural relics, Su Bomin, a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC) told Beijing Review on March 5.
Su has been working for three decades in the Mogao Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Dunhuang, in northwest China's Gansu Province. Also known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, Mogao Grottoes is made up of some 500 Buddhist temples, carved into cliff faces and lined with one of the world's most precious collections of Buddhist art. Su is now dean of Dunhuang Academy, the research institute responsible for overseeing the grottoes and, in a previous interview with Beijing Review, described himself as a "doctor of murals."
Since being elected as an NPC deputy in 2018, Su has put forward a series of suggestions for the protection of cultural relics, such as establishing cultural relics protection as an independent major in universities.
"I'll make that suggestion at this year's meeting," Su said. He feels it is of great importance for the future generation to understand and protect the nation's past.
The suggestions made by Su and his 2,950 fellow deputies are collected and classified by the NPC and then sent to relevant government departments for further discussion and implementation. After further deliberation, departments will report back to deputies on whether their proposal has been accepted and then provide updates on the progress of its implementation. "Those ministries or departments provide feedback on every motion and inform the processing procedures directly by phone or by mail," Su said.
In addition to establishing cultural relics protection as a university major, Su has also proposed facilitating the establishment of a key state research laboratory for cultural relics protection, aiming to merge the protection of cultural relics into the national system of scientific and technological innovation and development.
Su and his academy have also been focusing on promoting Dunhuang culture.
"Spanning the past and present, Dunhuang is of enduring value from both a historical and a scientific perspective," Su said. He added that increasing numbers of Chinese young adults are becoming interested in traditional culture, and this in turn has given a boost of China’s creative cultural industries.
"We need to study the grottoes and their cultural relics in depth," Su said. "But we also need to prevent them from being over visited." For this reason, researchers began the process of digitizing the grottoes in the 1990s, and now the frescoes of some 260 grottoes have been collected digitally for remote viewing in the future.
In 2016, the first phase of the Digital Dunhuang resource database went online. People from all over the world can enjoy high-definition images and panoramic tours of 30 caves on the Digital Dunhuang website, which is a demonstration of China’s new cultural relic protection philosophy.
"We have applied new technology to revive these frescoes in a bid to develop Dunhuang's contemporary value and meet people's cultural needs," Su concluded.
Copyedited by G.P. Wilson
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