Quanzhou, a City Full of Traditional & Modern Treasures
    2012-12-21 14:07:04     CRIENGLISH.com         Web Editor: Wang Wei

Quanzhou is a prefecture-level city located in southeast China's Fujian Province. Because of the carp-like shape of the city and the abundant erythrina flowers all over the city, Quanzhou is also known as "The City of Carp" and "The City of Erythrina".

With well-preserved traditional architecture, time-honored history, rich cultural heritage, a booming economy and a fantastic living environment, Quanzhou is the choice for both foreign and domestic travelers.

Let's follow Hefei to discover the traditional and modern charm of the small city.

 

At the end of November, when many cities in North China are preparing for the first snow of the year, Quanzhou, in Southeast China's Fujian Province, has a totally different vibe.

The subtropical oceanic monsoon climate of Quanzhou brings the small city abundant rain and an average temperature above 18 degrees centigrade all year round.

On a leisurely stroll, you can easily find the rich historic and cultural features of the city, features that make Quanzhou one of the twenty-four most historic cities, first approved by the Chinese government in 1982.

What's more, the city boasts both traditional and modern charms, a great attraction for both tourists and scholars.

According to Chu Baoyang, deputy-chief of Quanzhou Municipal Bureau of Culture, Radio, Television, Press and Publication, the policy of separating the old district with the newly-built district is an effective way to preserve the history and culture of the city.

"The new district won't take up the space of the old district. We can have more energy and space to integrate and renovate the old district according to the unique features of cultural heritage left by our ancestors, especially for renovation of the environment around important relics and cultural heritage."

70 year-old Chen Risheng, Chairman of Quanzhou Folk Art Protection Research Society, is a Quanzhou local.

"Many things that originated in the central plains of China became extinct because of several major migrations, a consequence of civil wars in Chinese history. These things, including farming skills, Nanyin, Liyuan Opera, puppet shows and South Shaolin Martial Arts were brought to Quanzhou by the migrants who moved to the city. These treasures were preserved well in Quanzhou, thanks to its sparse contact with the outside world at that time."

According to Chen, Quanzhou also keeps the pronunciation of ancient Chinese in its local dialect.

"Wang Li, a professor teaching ancient Chinese in Peking University, once told his students that if they wanted to learn the genuine ancient Chinese language, they should search in two places, Quanzhou and Guangzhou, as the pronunciation of ancient Chinese in Cantonese and South Fujian dialect still remain. So, it still rhymes when Quanzhou locals read poems from the Tang Dynasty in Quanzhou dialect, rather than standard Chinese."

Except for several years studying and working on the outside, Chen has been living in this small city for 60 years and has seen its development into a modern city.

"Quanzhou was quite poor 60 or 70 years ago. It was more of a town than a city. There were hardly any big investments on the coast here. After the reform and opening up in China, now Quanzhou's GDP takes up one quarter of the whole GDP of Fujian province."

David Liu was born in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. He has been working and living in Quanzhou since 1997. Liu says he is amazed by the dramatic changes that have taken place in Quanzhou over the last 15 years.

"When I first came to Quanzhou, there were only 2 or 3 traffic lights in the whole city. In 1997, I wanted to buy a bottle of chili sauce, but I couldn't find one in the supermarket because there were only few people coming to Quanzhou from other provinces. Nobody ate spicy food. And there was only one small Sichuan restaurant in the city. But now, I can buy food from all over the world. I can also eat cuisines of different flavors, like Sichuan, Hunan and Northeast China, which I wouldn't have imagined when I first came to the city."

As a travel enthusiast, Liu has seen a great deal. However, in his opinion, Quanzhou is different from all the other cities he has visited.

"Nowadays, many cities lack uniqueness. When I stand in the street, I don't know if it's in Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou. They look very much alike. But in Quanzhou, I know it is Quanzhou. It's very different, and has its own characteristics. It has the prosperity but no sense of the distance of a big city. Quanzhou maintains an intimate quality among citizens, which I think makes it a very special place."

Liu's two little children were born in the city, and he has always wanted them to master the local dialect and grow a sense of belonging in Quanzhou.

Quanzhou is a city of warmth. People here don't feel the complexity in big cities, and it's not as boring as a rural city.

It is a perfect balance of both economic development and cultural preservation, and it attracts people from all over the world through its specific charms.

For CRI, I'm Hefei.

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