article by ye yijian (founder of fangtang think tank)

a two-hour drive from downtown guangzhou takes you to the qi ao historical trail in zhuhai. here, surrounded by mountains and rivers, green trees, rich historical relics, conservation and utilization of obvious results. li yingyu, an expert of south china historical trail protection and use technical guidance group, is familiar with the restoration of the qi ao historical trail. the naming of each scenic spot, the construction concept of each facility and scene, and the restoration details of each road all reflect the spirit of the craftsmen, the rigorous of scholars and the creative passion of artists.

when li yingyu introduced us on this historical trail, we were not only intoxicated by the natural scenery along the road, but also were interested in the historical stories and the folk tales that had taken place in the villages along the road, we were also touched by the enthusiasm of the many experts, scholars, volunteers and ordinary people who have devoted themselves to the excavation, conservation, restoration and creativity of the south china historical trail in recent years.

the qi ao historical trail was once a major trade and official road in the qing dynasty. it also served as a link between the mainland and macao. through this ancient road, chinese porcelain, tea, silk and other products were shipped overseas, at the same time, western products and advanced ideas were also transported to the interior -- what was accomplished through this ancient road was not only the trade of goods and regional communication, it also shows the value of remolding and promoting the transformation of the times, which is rich in cultural agitation and cultural integration.

in our view, south china historical trail will not only opened a window for us to understand the historical and cultural changes in lingnan, but also opened a wonderful section of the great chinese historical narrative, a series of activities, including heritage conservation, cultural excavation and re-establishment of the south china historical trail, we can also see directly and truly the opportunities for industrial development, the possibility of cultural innovation, and the logic of rural revitalization behind the south china historical trail, which are distributed on the land of lingnan. even the whole guangdong-hong kong-macao greater bay area, including guangdong, presents a new imagination space in the fields and aspects of cultural renaissance, cultural and tourism integration, regional coordination, urban renewal and so on.

the value rebuilds, the historical trail revitalizes. after several years of practice, the south china historical trail has not only improved its infrastructure of the area along, but also established a series of branded products and services, with the advent of the new consumption era and the layout of a series of new national and regional strategies, the south china historical trail has already had more space and possibilities for the cross-border integration and development of the key words and national strategies of the times, a new era of values has begun on the south china historical trail.

1. activation and utilization, the historical trail revitalizes

generally speaking, the south china historical trail refers to the routes used in guangdong before 1913 for the transmission of documents, transportation of goods and materials, and the movement of people, including water and land routes, official and folk routes.

in history, the development and extension of the south china historical trail brought central plains culture and overseas culture together in lingnan, which collided with the natural features, historical culture and national customs of the region, guangdong’s cultural pedigree, which was later represented by guangfu culture, chaoshan culture and lingnan culture, was constantly constructed. it was even suggested that “stepping on south china historical trail, one can enter the heart and soul of guangdong”.

today, even if only from the perspective of cultural renaissance, integration of culture and tourism, industrial transformation and rural revitalization, relying on these excavated historical trails, the areas along the road already have the conditions and basis for developing diversified products and services, the south china historical trail has been and will continue to be an important resource for the innovative development of guangdong in such areas as cultural renaissance, integration of culture and tourism, industrial transformation and rural revitalization, the strategic significance is obvious, the value contribution is diverse, the market potential is huge.

it is also in this comprehensive context that, in order to implement the spirit of general secretary xi jinping’s important speeches on cultural self-confidence and “making the heritage on the vast land come alive”, and to promote rural rejuvenation and the construction of ecological civilization, in response to the “belt and road”initiative and the strategy of creating a “strong culture province”, since 2016, guangdong province has carried out the protection and utilization of south china historical trail, to promote the historical trail along the culture, tourism, ecology, villages, heritage and other rich resources of the excavation, protection, activation and utilization.

after years of hard work and practice, not only has the south china historical trail to a large extent become a platform for displaying the historical details and cultural confidence of guangdong, it also directly constitutes one of the important resources, elements, brands and platforms that promote the transformation development, innovative development, balanced development, full development, high-quality development and sustainable development of the guangdong region, especially along the south china historical trail.

according to the official statistics, in the past six years, guangdong province has completed the general survey of historical trails in the whole province, and found a total of 906 historical trails remains and 233 historical trail bodies distributed in 102 districts and counties of 21 prefecture levels in the whole province.it has completed the compilation of the overall plan for the protection and utilization of guangdong south china historical trail, and issued a series of guiding documents such as the guidelines for the protection and restoration of guangdong south china historical trail and guidelines for the signage system of southern south china historical trail. we have protected and restored 28 sections of 18 key ancient post roads with a total length of more than 1,280 kilometers, protected and repaired a number of historical and cultural relics, explored the red culture of the south china historical trail, built several cultural travel routes of the "red tour of the south china historical trail", and carried out basic theoretical research and practical activities on the study of historical trail.by "historical trail culture" and "historical trail sports" "historical trail tourism" "historical trail industry" innovation models, it has brought positive social and economic benefits to the villages and towns along the route, the south china historical trail has become a powerful hand in the development strategy and planning of guangdong province, such as rural revitalization, precise poverty alleviation, and global tourism, and a beautiful card of guangdong in the new era.

according to the published data, only the cultural resources, natural resources and remains related to the south china historical trail, which have been sorted out so far, have covered almost the whole territory of guangdong. south china historical trail and related remains, as more and more people walk, experience and spread, the historical trail ontology, along the pass, gatehouse, post station and other static historical and cultural relics are reactivated, the south china historical trail has evolved from an ancient transportation network to an important carrier carrying the values of tourism, ecology, economy and people’s livelihood.

it can be said that after sleeping and being forgotten for many years, the south china historical trail is undergoing a process of awakening, and to a large extent, it has given new definition and possibility to the land of southern guangdong a process of awakening the south china historical trail, it is also a comprehensive process of remolding value.

2. value inquiry, activate the foundation

we first came into contact with and paid attention to the south china historical trail, which is directly related to our attention to and research on guangdong cultural tourism. in our opinion, since at least 2018, one of the key words in talking about the guangdong cultural tourism is the south china historical trail, this is because, after several years of efforts, the south china historical trail has not only formed a very good foundation in terms of excavation, protection, inheritance, promotion, etc. , moreover, it has become an important part of guangdong cultural tourism in terms of space planning, cultural context sorting, product and service innovation, etc. .

this creative and strategic arrangement from point to line, from line to surface, from surface to city and even to the whole region as a whole not only provides a cognitive perspective of industrialization, productization and marketization for the cultural and tourism resources in a region, it also provides a good train of thought for cultural tourism to examine the transformation and development of a region.

in our view, although from the very beginning the relevant authorities in guangdong province did not regard the application for world cultural heritage of the south china historical trail as an important objective for the protection and revitalisation of the south china historical trail, if the south china historical trail is successfully applied for heritage, to truly become a cultural card with global influence, and to further promote innovative research on the value cognitive system of the south china historical trail, through the creation and operation of a series of rich cultural and travel products and services, to form a set of more innovative and creative protection and inheritance mechanism and market-oriented operation mechanism for the linear cultural heritage, and will also serve as a model for the protection and development of the national cultural heritage of china historical trail.

wang zijin, president of the chinese research institute of the history of the qin and han dynasties, mentioned in his book history of historical trails that "the completeness of the transportation system determines the scale of the circle of civilization, and also affects the connections between the various circles of civilizations". "the courier system, consisting of ancient post roads and post stations, is just like the meridian and collages through the system of chinese civilization. the upgrading and vitality of chinese civilization also reflects the role of the courier system. the early formation of the ancient chinese courier system, its relatively complete structure and its relatively rapid working efficiency are one of the masterpieces created by chinese civilization."

so, in his view, "the discussion of the formation, characteristics and historical role of the ancient chinese courier system will undoubtedly contribute to a more accurate understanding of many related historical and cultural phenomena in ancient china, and thus to a better understanding of certain characteristics of ancient chinese civilization, and to a more concrete explanation of the real evolution of ancient chinese civilization."

we agree this view and judgment, it is on the basis of this logic and background that, in our opinion, today we question the essence of the value of the south china historical trail, it is also a question of the true course of the civilization evolution of lingnan and china and even the world, or of the history and humanity of the most quiet scenery scattered on the land of lingnan. based on the essence of the historical humanistic value of the south china historical trail, the modern mode of production and life, and the modern industrial system, we have constructed a series of actions and practices for its activation and utilization, not only was there speculation about the multiple values of the south china historical trail, it is also directly related to the realization of the multi-value of the south china historical trail -- if there is not enough continuous realization of social value, market value, commercial value and even investment value, not only is the experiential use of the south china historical trail unsustainable, even the relatively unadulterated archaeological excavations, value studies, heritage conservation and cultural heritage surrounding the south china historical trail are unsustainable.

and all this logic, background and speculation are the prerequisites for us to reawaken the rich natural, historical and cultural resources of the south china historical trail, the land of lingnan, it is also the premise for us to push forward the achievement of a “new value era of the south china historical trail”.

3.push it systematically,wait for the blooming quietly

when we tried to learn more about the south china historical trail, we were quite surprised to learn that the south china historical trail was clearly put forward by the guangdong provincial government and written into the government’s work report, related academic research, strategic planning, infrastructure, brand packaging, platform construction, sports events and the landing of cultural products and services, and so on, soon entered the fast lane, and accumulated a large number of achievements, basically formed a protective development, matrix-type promotion and the use of products, industrial chain extension effect.

coupled with the later construction of the cultural heritage trail in the guangdong-hong kong-macao greater bay area, not only has the product design become more vertical and concrete in terms of historical and cultural themes, but also, the south china historical trail was extended to the urban space, and the continuous enrichment of the ancient post road from line to point to network was promoted.

in our view, after six years of hard work, as a brand with comprehensive attributes such as excavation of human heritage, inheritance of chinese culture, development of cultural tourism, service of sports events, innovation of social governance, practice of rural revitalization, and coordinated development of regions, the south china historical trail, has certain ip attributes, and under the unified ip, constantly building and enriching the multi-level product and service matrix, constantly improving the innovative and creative product and service system.

next, if we can introduce the market operators under the premise of government guidance and supervision, on the basis of a more systematic and professional definition of the multi-cultural values of the south china historical trail, to construct the corresponding market-oriented operation mechanism, platform, products and services, under the guidance of the concept of protection, inheritance, activation and utilization with a greater sense of cultural awe and historical inheritance, seeking the best combination and balance point between cultural value and market value, social value and even commercial value and investment value, it will provide more diversified and sustainable development impetus for the comprehensive value realization of the ancient post road in south guangdong, thus pushing the activation and utilization of the south china historical trail into a new stage.

of course, in our view, whether in terms of direct financial subsidies, or in terms of strategic planning arrangements, policy support design, mobilization of social forces, media campaigns, etc. , in recent years, the relevant departments and government agencies represented by the natural resources department of guangdong province have made great efforts and achieved a series of fruitful results. even from a new point of view and at a new stage of development, we firmly believe that the preservation and adaptive use of the heritage of the south china historical trail can not be separated from the direct participation of government departments and agencies at all levels, a series of supporting contents, including direct financial investment, will directly influence the effect of heritage protection, cultural inheritance and adaptive utilization of the south china historical trail.

however, with full respect and approval for the series of activities, brands and projects promoted by the government over the years, we also hope to make some ideas and suggestions from the perspective of marketization and industrialization, even support and encourage the operation of a number of events, events, brands and projects in stock to provide more adequate space for the deep participation of social capital and social enterprises, to promote the marketization of these activities, events and projects as soon as possible -- standing at a new time node and at a new stage of development, taking fully into account the already good foundation for the revitalisation and utilization of the south china historical trail, taking fully into account the context of new industrial changes, including the cultural and tourism industries, as well as the demands of new consumption habits and lifestyles for new products and services, even in response to the strong interest and enthusiasm shown by a growing number of social organizations, enterprises and investment institutions in the revitalisation and utilization of the south china historical trail, more market forces have entered the market, more innovative and entrepreneurial teams have joined, the investment of more social capital, and so on, is of great significance to the next step of heritage protection, cultural inheritance and adaptive utilization of the south china historical trail.

in our view, marketization and globalization integrate resources, vigorously promote innovation and entrepreneurship around the revitalisation and utilization of the south china historical trail, and set up a high-starting point investment and operation platform for the revitalisation and utilization of the south china historical trail, innovatively promoting the reform of clarifying property rights of cultural and tourist resources along the ancient post road in south guangdong, and opening more to social organizations, etc. , it will be one of the key factors and forces that will influence and even decide the new activation and utilization of the south china historical trail and truly usher in the so-called “new value era”.

in addition, in our opinion, neither the dissemination of value, nor the brand marketing, nor the innovation of products and services, the construction of the industrial chain and the building of the industrial ecosystem of the south china historical trail exist in isolation, not only is there a direct and close relationship between the two, it is also directly and closely related to the construction of a new research system for the south china historical trail, the international expression of the south china historical trail, the ecological governance, social construction and rural revitalization of the areas along the south china historical trail, crossover and integration should be normalized to choose.

moreover, in the new stage of development, it is especially necessary to think more systematically, open and integrated on these related issues, which is also one of the most basic ways of thinking and working for the relevant departments, institutions and market subjects in guangdong province to further promote the activation and utilization of the south china historical trail.

next, let’s wait and see, waiting for the blooming quietly!

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