• Monday, November 18, 2019

China and France to jointly repair burnt Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris

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  1. beijingwalker

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    China and France to jointly repair burnt Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris
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    In a photo taken on Oct 15, 2019, damage by the major fire can still be seen on the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, France.PHOTO: NYTIMES

    PUBLISHED
    10 HOURS AGO

    When the oak-framed roof of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris burned to the ground in the blaze on April 15, people around the world wept over the fate of the iconic 12th-century monument.

    Yet, thanks to an unprecedented display of global unity, the rebirth of this cultural colossus is now guaranteed.

    The cultural administrations of China and France jointly released a declaration on Wednesday (Nov 6) in Beijing to kick off a programme of bilateral cooperation to rebuild the world-famous cathedral.

    With President Xi Jinping and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron's presence during the latter's state visit to China on Wednesday, the declaration was signed by Mr Liu Yuzhu, director of the National Cultural Heritage Administration, and Mr Franck Riester, the French minister of culture, in the Great Hall of the People.

    "A loss of cultural heritage means the disappearance of a period of history and culture," Mr Liu said in a written statement. "It also teaches us a lesson about ensuring the safety of cultural heritage, and prompted us to set red lines for the future that must not be crossed."

    In line with the declaration, a team of Chinese experts on cultural heritage will arrive in Paris in 2020 "as early as possible" to work on the site alongside French conservators.

    Mr Liu reveals that the two countries have remained in frequent contact since the fire to explore avenues of cooperation.

    "The project will greatly expand the horizons of Sino-French cooperation in terms of cultural heritage," he said. "It will set a good example to the world."

    China is the first country outside of France to reach an inter-governmental agreement over the renovation of Notre-Dame.

    President Macron previously stated that the renovation of the badly damaged cathedral would be completed in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, but the French government has remained careful about mapping out a specific plan for its renovation involving international partners.

    In August, the independent California-based publishing company GoArchitect organised a worldwide competition on the future renovation plans for the destroyed roof. A blueprint drafted by two Chinese architects living in the United States stood out from nearly 300 plans and was awarded the winner - but has since yet to be selected as the official design.

    Although the specific themes and time frame for Sino-French cooperation on Notre-Dame Cathedral is yet to be formally set out, Mr Chai Xiaoming, director of the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage, said China can contribute not only general ideas but also detailed technical plans for the upcoming renovation.

    "China has a great deal of experience in renovating ancient buildings affected by fire, especially ones made of wood," Mr Chai told China Daily. "This means we could offer suggestions on how to approach the renovation of the oak-framed roof on Notre-Dame Cathedral."

    Speaking of the conservation of stone relics, Mr Chai cited that his academy completed a decade-long research project at the Chengde Mountain Resort, a former royal resort of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) in Hebei province and a Unesco World Heritage site, where they tailored many solutions to damaged or weakened stones using techniques of traditional Chinese craftsmanship.

    "For example, burning incense in traditional rituals has left thick layers of soot on many ancient Chinese temples," he added, "So we also have a rich experience of cleaning ancient architecture, which might be useful to the work at Notre-Dame."

    Mr Liu emphasises that cooperation between China and France would benefit "mutual learning".

    The joint declaration on Wednesday also outlined a bilateral project between France and China focusing on the 2,200-year-old terracotta warriors in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, at the Mausoleum of Qinshihuang, the first emperor of China.

    "The terracotta warriors and Notre-Dame are the most important symbols among the Unesco World Heritage sites of China and France respectively," Mr Liu said. "This collaboration shows our established relationship and highlights the mutual trust between the two countries."

    The newly announced project will cover exchanges in conservation technology, joint scientific research and training programmes.

    https://www.straitstimes.com/world/...pair-burnt-down-notre-dame-cathedral-in-paris
     
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