A palace open to visitors
The Old Summer Palace is now a major attraction for visitors and Beijingers alike who come looking for some harmony and calm away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Under the premiership of Zhou Enlai, the Old Summer Palace became a preserved site, so that the Chinese did not forget this tragic episode in their history. Only a few buildings have been reconstructed, and some repatriated artefacts are on display to the public.
To rebuild or not?
The reconstruction of the Old Summer Palace is regularly discussed, but to this day Chinese authorities have always opposed it.
The Old Summer Palace could be reborn thanks to artificial intelligence. Visitors could take a virtual walk through the ancient gardens and wander through the palaces that are now destroyed.
The destruction of the Old Summer Palace is a major episode in Chinese history. By preserving the site in its current state, the Chinese fulfil their duty of remembrance and do not forget the horrors that their country experienced during “the century of humiliation”.
The current conservation around this site also enables all people, visitors and foreigners, to reflect on the importance of culture and heritage. By destroying Yuanmingyuan, it is not only China that has lost an exceptional monument, but the whole world that has become impoverished.