The old house revitalizes the new life in the ancient village
Ancient houses in southern Fujian, Gothic architecture, ancient Romanesque architecture, Chinese and Western dwellings…Walking in the ancient village of Wulin, Xintang Street, Jinjiang City, Fujian Province, you will find buildings in front of you with ancient houses and foreign buildings.
Six years ago, Wulin was not in this situation. Weeds grow next to more than 200 modern characteristic buildings, many of which collapsed due to their age. “Most of these were built by overseas Chinese in the early years, and the children are living overseas, so naturally no one lives and manages the house,” said villager Cai Mazhui.
Since 2015, Jinjiang has been selected as a national reform pilot for the “Three Plots of Land” in rural areas. Taking advantage of the reform of the rural homestead system, Xintang Sub-district explores the mechanism of homestead transfer. “Homesteads are transferred to the market, and homesteads between villagers can be freely transferred; for land and homesteads requisitioned by the government, villagers can choose monetary compensation, property rights replacement or a combination of the two methods of compensation and resettlement.” Xintang Sub-district is responsible. People say that with the support of the policy, the old houses will be collectively expropriated, repaired, and revitalized by the government.
In 2017, the Wulin Traditional Village Protection and Development Project was listed as a key project in Fujian Province, with a planned land area of 1,900 acres and 240 houses to be expropriated, involving 400 households and more than 16,000 people at home and abroad. How to build a new ancient village that “can retain homesickness”?
The answer given by Quanzhou is: solid-state protection, activation and inheritance, and business format introduction. In order to let everyone understand that the purpose of government expropriation is to repair and protect old houses, before expropriation, relevant departments cooperate with domestic ancient building planning agencies to formulate a repair and protection plan for each household. A large number of overseas Chinese and villagers returned home from overseas. “I invited my uncle back to China and was the first to sign an expropriation and relocation agreement.” Cai Mazhui said.
As a result, the ancient houses and foreign buildings were protected, and the development space of traditional villages was opened up. In November 2019, Jinjiang signed a contract with Beijing Qingpu Tourism and Culture to integrate ancient homes, foreign buildings, and land, and build traditional intangible heritage experience workshops and immersive theater performance spots. The original residents will participate in the introduction and display, and create local specialty incubations. The platform forms a new business card for the live cultural experience of urban cultural tourism.
At the moment, walking Wulin, you can sip a Nanyang afternoon tea in the old mansion in 1930, and make rice dumplings with traditional craftsmen; feel the care of homeland and sangzi in the Overseas Chinese Museum; next to the hundred acres of purple flowers , A cultural and creative market full of overseas Chinese characteristics… In August this year, Wulin Community was selected as the third batch of national rural tourism key villages, a Minnan culture that integrates the architectural display, life experience, cultural creativity, and field scenery of the overseas Chinese in southern Fujian. Tourist destinations are attracting visitors from all directions.
“The success of Quanzhou’s application for heritage has allowed us to see more possibilities and strengthened our confidence in returning home to start a business.” After the 90s, Jinjiang guy Wu Zhili likes antiques. After understanding the cultural and creative atmosphere of his hometown, he decided to return to Wulin to open up a new world.
And Wu Huaqing, a young man from Jinjiang born in the 90s who grew up next to the sauce tank, took over his grandfather’s soy sauce business as early as 2014. After the success of Quanzhou’s heritage application this year, he upgraded the offline experience store in Wulin, “I hope to use the cultural tourism enthusiasm brought by the success of the heritage application to realize the integrated development of products and cultural creativity.” Next to the store, the Qingpu Culture Hotel, composed of 12 traditional buildings and foreign buildings in the hometown of overseas Chinese in southern Fujian, opened in June this year, creating a unique cultural travel experience.
In the process of business upgrading, Wulin Community converted collective land into shares in operating companies and business investment companies, allowing residents to become shareholders and sharing development dividends, which not only “lived” land resources, but also “bulked up” the people’s pockets. “We not only have project shares, but also receive free training, so that we can increase our income by employment at our doorstep. The future will be very sweet!” When it comes to the future, Cai Machai is full of confidence.