article by ye yijian (founder of fangtang think tank)

with the continuous revitalization and utilization of the south china historical trail, the south china historical trail today is not only a road in the sense of transportation, but also a heritage in the sense of culture, in the future, it will be possible to define lingnan land from more value dimensions, depending on the experience scene of modern culture and tourism life style and the important resources of promoting rural revitalization along the route.

in order to further promote the activation and utilization of the south china historical trail, in particular the value-driven drive to practically promote the branding and industrialization of the south china historical trail, we need to think about the value of the south china historical trail from the perspectives of different spatial scales, industrial dimensions, strategic dimensions, dialect system and historical narration, these speculations will not only have a direct impact on our understanding of the value of the south china historical trail, it will also have a direct impact on the strategic direction choice, space construction model, product and service creativity in the process of the revitalisation and utilization of the south china historical trail.

from our point of view,the value dimensions of the south china historical trail that deserve in-depth discussion and full attention include at least:

first, the national, regional and human cultural value definition related to the south china historical trail.

specifically, as a part of the whole ancient chinese post system, one of the defining dimensions of the value of the south china historical trail is as follows: from the evolution of the overall influence of the ancient chinese post system on the construction of chinese civilization, the south china historical trail played an important role. based on this, if we can see how the south china historical trail played its role from the overall evolution of chinese civilization -- the south china historical trail is an important part of the ancient post road system in china or the traditional post system in china, it not only directly reflects some of the characteristics of chinese civilization, but also has an important sign and marking value for the construction of chinese civilization, which will be a very important angle in the value research and cultural definition of the south china historical trail, is also one of the more mainstream research directions.

in addition, as a linear cultural heritage distributed in the lingnan area, the regional or local character of the south china historical trail should be another value dimension to define its cultural and civilization values: viewed from the evolution of civilization in southern guangdong, it is because of the development and existence of these historical trails that central plain and overseas cultures can merge and mingle in the lingnan landscape, and interact with the natural, cultural, historical and ethnic elements already existing in the region, later, we see the guangfu culture, chaoshan culture, lingnan culture, leizhou culture as a representative of the origin and pedigree of guangdong culture. through the south china historical trail, you can get an insight into the soul and world of lingnan.

in our view, it will be a huge project and a very innovative perspective to rediscover and narrate the historical, cultural, economic and social changes of lingnan region through the south china historical trail. unlike the ancient post-road in some plain areas, the emergence and existence of the south china historical trail has brought about more cultural fusion and cultural fission, the construction of the cultural value discourse system of the south china historical trail by means of more local value narration may be more important than the pure value perspective based on the linear heritage of the ancient post road, the characteristics of locality, region and linearity are very important to the value definition of the south china historical trail, but they may be more important from the perspective of locality.

moreover, this logic of cultural definition is consistent with the provisions of the united nations convention for the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage (“the convention”) and the criteria for nomination to the world cultural list. sites defined in the convention refer to man-made works or common masterpieces of human and nature and archaeological sites of outstanding and universal value from a historical, aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological perspective. one of the six criteria proposed for cultural heritage projects nominated for inclusion in the world heritage list (one or more of which would need to be met for a cultural heritage) is the ability, within a given period of time or within a given cultural region of the world, it has a great influence on the development of architectural art, memorial art, town planning or landscape design.

in our view, through more local cultural value excavation and more global cultural value criticism, we can achieve a more accurate, more contemporary and more human definition of the cultural value of the south china historical trail, it will be one of the basic work to be done in the process of applying for the heritage of the ancient post roads, including the south china historical trail, and one of the first problems to be solved in the international expression of the south china historical trail, and one of the most important.

secondly, how to build a diversified interactive mechanism, as well as the creation of a series of concrete products, services, projects and platforms, to actively and effectively promote the coordinated development of the revitalisation and utilization of the south china historical trail and the rural revitalization along the route in a mutually empowering way, which will not only support the more innovative promotion of the revitalisation and utilization of the south china historical trail, it will also be one of the characteristics and highlights of rural revitalization practice in guangdong province.

both in the past and in the present, the south china historical trail did not exist in isolation. the existing research has shown that the south china historical trail is closely related to the traditional villages -- according to incomplete statistics, of the 2,277 designated poor villages in guangdong province, 60 percent are within five kilometers of the ancient post road.

in his article “the reuse of linear heritage space: taking the beijing-tianjin-hebei section of the chinese grand canal and the south china historical trail as examples”, arui, a professional volunteer of the “three masters”, points out that, “the dislocation of modern and ancient transport networks has led to the decline of economic power in some villages and towns and the emergence of poverty in the modern sense, which is common in the process of urbanization in china and the west. however, it is precisely low-speed urbanization that avoids man-made destructive construction. instead, ancient man-made landscapes (including ancient post roads, historic buildings and traditional ancient villages) can survive in areas where the frequency of human modern development activities is relatively low. areas with poor modern transportation conditions and low degree of urbanization are precisely those where ancient post roads are better preserved.”

based on the situation we have visited in recent years, it is rare that many villages in guangdong have retained their authenticity to a large extent. among these villages, there are not only a large number of ancient bridges, ancient trees, ancient buildings, ancient roads and other material and cultural heritage, there are also intangible cultural heritage related to clan inheritance, population migration, traditional festivals, folk arts and crafts, which are very valuable resources for rural revitalization.

if the thinking and practice on the transformation of villages along the historical trail by the relevant departments and institutions in the last stage were carried out more from the perspective of the transformation and development of villages along the south china historical trail, then, in the new stage, based on the rediscovery of china’s rural value in the new era and the overall promotion of the national rural revitalization strategy, it will also be necessary to enable the activation and utilization of the south china historical trail through the village-based thinking. these villages will not only provide rich heritage resources and diversified space resources for the activation and utilization of the south china historical trail, it also includes cultural diversity and more possibilities for market prospects.

for example, from the perspective of rural revitalization, the revitalisation of the south china historical trail has found new cultural and travel coordinates for the scattered villages along the route, answering not only the question of where these villages are geographically, but more importantly, in the coordinate system of cultural values and tourist routes, it has found a position for these villages, and has directly brought the local villagers a strong cultural self-confidence and a new local value identity, it will also make it possible to promote dialogue between these villages and the world, thus providing important new premises for their transformative development and revitalization.

at the same time, these villages will be important space and platform carriers to form and further enrich the activation and utilization of the south china historical trail, if the essence of these historical trails, as well as the surrounding culture and natural resources, exist more in static form, well, many villages along the route, especially those directly related to the preservation, abandonment and rise and fall of the post road, are actually a kind of living natural and cultural resources, in which folk beliefs, folk customs and folk art are preserved, in particular, those who are still alive, these are the new consumer era to promote rural revitalization and south china historical trail activation of the use of important cultural resources and scene resources.

moreover, in terms of the growth of the market and the convenience of value transformation, the existing physical space and cultural resources in these villages are also very valuable, far more economical and convenient than building from scratch or even demolishing and rebuilding. therefore, the practice of rural revitalization of the villages along the route should be fully integrated with the revitalization and utilization of the south china historical trail to empower each other and create more possibilities through market-oriented and international resource allocation, it will become one of the most imaginative directions and models in the process of rural revitalization in guangdong and the revitalisation and utilization of the south china historical trail.

third, the south china historical trail is not only one of the most important strategic resources for the transformation and upgrading of guangdong’s cultural tourism industry, but also many regions, in particular, the transformation and development of relatively backward areas rely on important resources (of course, we also found in the investigation, for the city outskirts of the south china historical trail for the activation of the city directly for the city where the city provides a new leisure experience places, has become popular public culture leisure space, and even to a certain extent reshaped the urban development spatial pattern, the south china historical trail has become a new round of urban renewal and urban comprehensive transformation of the city rely on important resources) .

this is directly related to two aspects, one is how to understand and understand the new round of cultural tourism industry in guangdong province, and the other is how to understand and recognize the relatively backward areas in the east, west and north of guangdong province. however, in the actual development, these two issues have shown obvious direct correlation. one of the reasons is that, similar to the situation across the country, in the new round of transformation and development of guangdong’s cultural tourism industry, the resources and regions activated by the cultural tourism industry, most of them are in the most marginal, remote and even the poorest areas of traditional knowledge.

for example, in our research, we found that in recent years, whether at the shenzhen cultural fair, or at the guangdong tourism fair, or at the site of the guangdong culture and tourism investment and financing joint meeting, governments, projects and businesses from non pearl river delta regions have been extremely active, attracting more interest from investors and consumers, given the region’s scarce ecological resources and rich cultural resources. thus, through the development of the cultural and tourism industry, not only has it provided these relatively backward regions with an industrial path and model for sustainable development in the new era, objectively, it also provides a concrete grasp and carrier for the strategic practice of poverty alleviation, rural revitalization and green development in guangdong province. it can even be said that the development of the cultural and tourism industry, although its economic value is also obvious, but in some areas of guangdong, the public value is even greater than the pure economic value.

from the point of view of investment institutions and consumption, through the cultural and tourism development of ecological and cultural resources in these areas, a large number of tourism and leisure experiences, even sojourn experiences, will be generated for the new consumption era, it is also the scene resource for the birth of the most modern and creative cultural tourism products and services in the new round of development of guangdong’s cultural tourism industry, such as going to the mountains and going to the sea, entering the villages and entering the houses, non-cultural relics of folk customs, etc. , more and more become the key word frequently mentioned in the new development of guangdong cultural tourism.

in this process, the unique value of the south china historical trail began to attract more attention. in the course of vigorously promoting the activation and utilization of the south china historical trail in recent years, guangdong has been directly involved in the protection and development of a large number of village resources and landscape resources in backward areas, through the cultural value empowerment of the linear cultural heritage of the south china historical trail, as well as a series of cultural and creative competitions, sports events and the restoration of the ancient post road, we have created a rich supply of cultural and travel products and services, and let these traditional villages and natural scenic spots along the route begin to move toward cities, out of guangdong, to the whole country and even overseas. this not only greatly enhances the cultural confidence of the local people, but also subverts the traditional cognition and mentality of the rich and the poor, it has also directly promoted the local work of poverty eradication and rural revitalization, and effectively avoided the phenomenon of returning to poverty after poverty eradication, and provided guarantees for the green development and ecological development of these areas.

“what's localization is what's international”, in our view, the south china historical trail represents “the quietest scenery and the most silent civilization on the land of lingnan”, although many of the last round of supply of cultural tourism products and services in guangdong were not mainstream resources and powerful ip, in the new round of development of cultural tourism integration and industrial transformation, the importance of these resources and elements is rising rapidly, the value of originality and uniqueness is becoming more and more prominent. the development and creativity of the tourism products and services around these resources and elements not only make the tourism products and services in guangdong richer and more layered, it also reflects the rich and colorful local culture and the charm of humanity, which not only makes the regional distribution of guangdong’s cultural tourism industry more balanced, but also, to a large extent, provides more possibilities for the comprehensive development of non pearl river delta in guangdong province, it will not only further lengthen the local consumption chain of cultural tourism in guangdong, but also push cultural tourism in guangdong to go global with more distinctive brand image and creative product system.

fourth, under the strategic background of the new globalization and the construction of the “double-circle”new development pattern, the south china historical trail, the common heritage of human society, and the regions along the road, it can not only be one of the most important symbols and windows to tell “guangdong stories”and “china stories”well, but also be the space carrier and cultural support for china to promote the new globalization.

in our view, with the rapid rise of china’s economy in the global economic pattern and the internal polarization of european and american countries, profound adjustments are taking place in the international political and economic order and the logic of globalization, we describe it as a “new stage of globalisation”. there are several salient features of the new globalization phase that deserve more attention and help us to better adapt to and participate in the new globalization process.

for example, china, as one of the most important advocates of the new globalization, still shows a high level of openness to the enterprises and citizens of other countries and regions around the world, from the opening of its territorial space to the creation of an international business environment, from the opening of the tourism market to the allocation of resources in globalization, from the construction of domestic open platforms to the construction of multilateral cooperation mechanisms, and so on, they have shown unprecedented initiative in opening up, which has also made china the most important home of the new globalization, it clearly shows the trend of “home-field globalization”.

coupled with the construction of “double-cycle”new development pattern, it means that all regions, including guangdong, need to re-think and design their own development strategy, open logic and decision-making logic based on the opening logic of the home market. as the front region of china’s reform and opening up, guangdong needs to adapt to and even lead the new globalization in china’s historic progress, so that more places and space to play a good role in the new arena of globalization.

at the same time, with the rise of china’s economy in the world, the acceptance of chinese culture in the global consumer market has gradually increased, and more and more elements of chinese culture have been brought into the global mainstream of fashion trends, products and services based on chinese cultural elements not only get more and more attention, but also start to get more and more premium space.

against this background, the south china historical trail and the cultural connotations and symbols behind it, as an important part of the pedigree of chinese civilization, may not only become the symbolic composition of china’s international expression, but also should take the initiative to act, combining the revitalisation and utilization of the south china historical trail with rich international expression attempts and home-grown globalization practices, furthermore, it contributes unique value to the international brand marketing and international expression of guangdong cultural tourism, and to the international dissemination of chinese stories. what’s more, since its birth, the south china historical trail has been a carrier and stage for the change and agitation of various cultures, including lingnan culture, overseas culture and central plain culture.

of course, from our point of view, this is also one of the most imaginative directions for realizing the comprehensive value of the south china historical trail -- the activation and utilization of the south china historical trail, this orientation and possibility should be fully taken into account as the space bearing and cultural support of china’s new globalization, which in turn will provide new target guidance and value orientation for the activation and utilization of the south china historical trail in the new stage.

fifth, not only has the south china historical trail always been a part of the mainstream discourse system of china and the world, but we should also believe that every point on the south china historical trail can open a new narrative of the great chinese history, every south china historical trail has been and will continue to be the main arena of china’s historical and social changes.

up to now, although we have often seen reports on south china historical trail in the mainstream media of the country, there are also some publications and video works that have been released to the public nationally and even globally, generally speaking, between the south china historical trail and the history and the time narration of the main stream of the country, there still exists a certain gap and split, which is not only related to the existing communication strategy about the south china historical trail, it is also related to the logical construction and the relative lack of content production of the national and era narration of the south china historical trail.

in our view, in the new stage of development, based on the existing and increasing archaeological excavations, document collation, activation and utilization of the south china historical trail, it can strengthen the narrative of the south china historical trail and the great history of china, the mainstream issue of the transformation of the times, the global revolution under the new globalization, and so on, so as to stir up the story and value of the south china historical trail.

of course, this is also the weakness and weakness of many regional historical and cultural resources in the process of value research and dissemination in the world. the reason for this is related to the lack of consciousness and vision pattern of constructing this kind of value narrative, it is also related to the stage of value-building of these regional historical human resources. as far as the revitalisation of the south china historical trail is concerned, it is clearly time to incorporate it more into the mainstream narratives of the country, history and times.

as far as we know, many people are beginning to realize this problem and try to express the new value of the south china historical trail, however, it needs to be promoted more systematically, continuously and professionally, which is one of the inevitable choices for the relevant departments and institutions in their efforts to achieve a “new era of value of the south china historical trail”.

sixth, the south china historical trail can not only become an integral part of the cultural heritage trail in the guangdong-hong kong-macao greater bay area, but also form a richer value consensus and cultural identity for the construction of the guangdong-hong kong-macao greater bay area, to provide support from heritage to narrative, from brand to experience, from industrial community to cultural community, which is also under the background of our national strategy of building the guangdong-hong kong-macao greater bay area, one of the value dimensions for further thinking and planning the revitalisation and utilization of the south china historical trail.

in the outline of the development plan for the guangdong-hong kong-macao greater bay area issued by the central committee of the communist party of china and the state council, it is proposed to jointly build a cultural bay area, make full use of the advantages of close geographical proximity and close cultural ties between guangdong, hong kong and macao, and jointly carry out the protection of major cross-boundary cultural heritage, enhancing the cultural soft power of greater bay area. against this background, guangdong province proposes to strengthen cultural cooperation among guangdong, hong kong and macao, and to promote the construction of cultural heritage trails in the guangdong-hong kong-macao greater bay area, taking history as a link, making full use of the resources of cultural relics and monuments, world cultural heritage, intangible cultural heritage and south china historical trail in the guangdong-hong kong-macao greater bay area, the heritage trail of hong kong, the world heritage trail of macao old town and the south china historical trail, will form a new tourism product of “historical trail tour”, and form a system of “cultural heritage trail of guangdong-hong kong-macao greater bay area”with rich characteristics and historical details.

in our view, under the new development concepts of the cultural and tourism industries, such as the integration of cultural and tourism industries, the interaction of scenic spots and global tourism, through the planning and design of cultural heritage trails in guangdong, hong kong and macao, as well as the rich and diverse cultural and tourism products and services thus provided, not only can it provide visitors with a kind of tour route and experience, but more importantly, through this cultural heritage trail, can further form a common historical narrative (in the history, there are too many historical figures and stories can be closely linked to the three places, in the big historical space-time, hong kong not only has a strong identification with the mainland, even in a long time to retain china’s revolutionary, cultural, economic kindling, they always at a critical historical moment, for the revival of the mainland and regional counterattack to make a unique contribution) , to form a cultural community, and for domestic and foreign tourists and consumers of this cultural heritage trail, including the ordinary people of the three places, through such tour routes and consumption experiences, the south china historical trail is one of the direct carriers of the close connection between the three places, which can be directly and truly felt, so should the present and the future.

as far as the construction of the guangdong-hong kong-macao greater bay area is concerned, the interconnection and commonality of infrastructure, the deep integration of industrial chains, the equal supply of public services, the co-construction of the guangdong-hong kong-macao greater bay area brands, even in the near future, the integration of management systems and governance systems in the three places is the threshold to be crossed in the construction of the guangdong-hong kong-macao greater bay area, and is also the goal of the guangdong-hong kong-macao greater bay area. however, from the perspective of the long-term development of the guangdong-hong kong-macao greater bay area, including the integration process of management and governance system, these decisions and measures have a relatively strong color of hardware layout, based on the common historical narrative, cultural community and social community to build a series of layout, will show a stronger and more lasting vitality. under this logic, based on the cultural, social, ecological, economic and even political aspects of the revitalisation and utilization of the south china historical trail, a series of city building, industrial layout, product supply, brand co-construction, international expression, etc. , is particularly important, and particularly worth looking forward to.

back to origin, remodel value.in any case, culture is certainly one of the most essential attributes of the south china historical trail, and without the debate and definition of its cultural value, the south china historical trail would be nothing more than a physical relic, even some have been abandoned or soon to be abandoned; culture is the origin of a series of activation and utilization of the south china historical trail, there is no reverence for culture, all the value of insight is just a tree without a source, water without a source, all of the activation and utilization design is only the superficial lively. therefore, it is the best choice for us to study the cultural value of the south china historical trail and to guide all the work of the revitalisation and utilization of the south china historical trail.

as a matter of fact, from the perspective of the existing plans and practices concerning the revitalisation and utilization of the south china historical trail, it has always been a focus to ponder over its diversified, comprehensive and dynamic value, including its cultural value, it is also one of the most intuitive embodiment of the values and methodology adopted by the departments and agencies represented by the natural resources department of guangdong province in the past six years in promoting the activation and utilization of the south china historical trail. therefore, we believe that its case and practice is worth recommending to the domestic and foreign countries, and its experience and exploration are worth learning from other regions and relevant departments.

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