University Assembly 2022-23 learns the story of Qianlong’s favourite garden and its restoration
On 13 February, the University Assembly, hosted by LU President Prof Leonard K Cheng, invited Mr Ronnie C. Chan, Founder and Chairman of the China Heritage Fund (CHF), and Ms Happy Harun, CHF Project Director, to speak on “The Palace of Established Happiness – Restoring a Garden in the Forbidden City”.
The Garden, in the northwest quarter of the Forbidden City, was commissioned by Qing Emperor Qianlong in 1742, and burned down in 1923 when the deposed emperor Puyi was still living in the Forbidden City.
For three-quarters of a century, the incinerated garden was forgotten under a pile of rubble, and it was not until 2005, when the first large-scale reconstruction project inside the Forbidden City since the early 20th century, begun in 1997 and fully supported by the CHF, was accomplished, that the world could see and appreciate the beauty of this cultural heritage, Qianlong’s favourite retreat, once decorated with exquisite pavilions, weathered rocks, sunken courtyards, winding galleries, and Qianlong’s art collection.
The President’s conversation with Chan and Harun and the Q&A session gave the audience of 700 students from Lingnan University, two affiliated secondary schools, and their staff and guests a thorough understanding of this interesting story and the CHF’s concern for China’s cultural heritage and legacy.
“I firmly believe that the preservation and inheritance of culture is crucial to the continuation of human civilisation,” President Cheng said. “By appreciating the country's cultural relics and ancient buildings, students can better understand its history and culture from ancient times to the present, as well as the transformation of society from tradition to modernity.”
Lingnan University will organise more cultural and artistic activities with Chinese characteristics, the President said, so that foreign students can recognise and value the splendid and beautiful Chinese culture, and exchanges will be promoted between China and the whole world.
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