Mr FENG JiCai (冯骥才): “The Plight of China’s Cultural Heritage and Its Solutions”

Charity Event (Public lecture series) organized by The Mothers’ Bridge of Love


Mr. FENG JiCai, a renowned Chinese writer, gave public lectures at University of Cambridge, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), University of Oxford and University of Bath successively from 7 to 14 of this April. Titled “the Plight of China’s Cultural Heritage and its Solutions”, his presentations focused on the status quo, challenges, solutions and progresses achieved in the preservation of China’s cultural heritage.

This series of public lectures was initiated by The Mothers’ Bridge of Love (MBL) and jointly hosted by LSE China Development Society, Chinese Students and Scholars Association in Cambridge and Oxford and the MA Interpreting and Translating Programme of University of Bath, aiming at providing an opportunity for the Chinese students studying in the UK and the British Chinese to communicate with a giant of contemporary Chinese literature. The presentations received strong support from the four universities and many volunteers, as well as great enthusiasm from the audience. Students who attended these lectures said that they were overwhelmed and deeply impressed by Mr. Feng’s passion, concern and sense of responsibility toward China’s cultural heritage, which aroused their ardent love for the culture of their motherland and a sense of mission to pass it on to future generations.

In his lectures, Mr. Feng expressed his deep concerns toward the current situation of China’s intangible cultural heritage. He said that we spent 30 years only to turn more than 600 cities in China to look identical with almost complete obliteration of buildings with cultural or historical significance, which was a huge cultural tragedy. Within just a decade, the number of China’s villages has dropped from 3.6 million to 2.7 million. The disappearance of villages means the evaporation of their culture as well. Mr. Feng’s Tianjin-style humour also made the audience laugh when he said that 100 villages would be gone only after a night’s sleep. However, behind the laughter was heart-aching sadness.

Nonetheless, what’s gratifying to know is that in 2000, guided by Mr. Feng, China launched intangible cultural heritage preservation progamme that has already made great progress since then. The nation-wide cultural census made in recent years provided experts and scholars with a general picture of China’s folk customs and cultures. According to the statistics of the census, the total volume of intangible cultural heritages of the 56 ethnic groups in China surpasses 10,000 items. The number of folktales alone is an amazing 900 million, if counted in term of book volumes, there would be more than 5000 volumes.

Mr. Feng also underscored the role of the intellectuals, pointing out that they should shoulder their social responsibilities with dedication and contribute their share to the country.  “Money,” he said, “is a basic need rather than a life-long pursuit. Therefore, it shouldn’t become a country’s values.” We can’t only concentrate on the development of material civilization but neglect spiritual and cultural development. Cultural heritage is our soul and the very root of our nation, thus should be treasured and protected. The MBL volunteers had a deep understanding of Mr. Feng’s words. One of the volunteers said: “The families form the western world that adopted Chinese children are actively learning and exploring Chinese culture, seeking the cultural root for their adopted kids. As a Chinese, we are duty-bound to maintain our cultural root.”

In his communication with the audience, Mr.FENG JiCai expressed his appreciation about the scope and depth of their thoughts. He also had high expectations for Chinese students studying in the UK and the British Chinese, hoping that while taking in the British culture, they can spread the essence of Chinese culture, and build a bridge between the two cultures.


Reported by MBL (LI Jiang李江, HE BingQian何冰倩, and LI Xu李旭)

Translator: WU TianCheng (武天程)

Proofreader: JIANG Yu

Both form the University of Bath