4 March 2019 – The Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation has pledged RMB100 million to the Palace Museum to support heritage research and conservation of the Palace of Prolonging Happiness (Yanxi Gong) as well as the establishment of a gallery of foreign artefacts. The signing ceremony of the donation was held at the Palace Museum in Beijing on 2 March 2019; it was graced by the Honourable Mrs Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; Mr Luo Shu-Gang, Minister of Culture and Tourism of China; Mr Zhang Xiao-Ming, Director of Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office; Mr Wang Zhi-Min, Director of the Central Government’s Liaison Office in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; Mr Liu Yu-Zhu, Director of the National Cultural Heritage Administration; Dr Shan Ji-Xiang, Director of the Palace Museum and other esteemed guests.
Established in 1925, the Palace Museum is housed in the Forbidden City, the imperial palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties; the integrated national gallery is among the top five museums in the world. The 600-year-old wooden palatial complex, the largest and the best preserved wooden palatial complex in the world, epitomises Chinese architectural prowess and art, and is a paragon of Chinese culture and wisdom. It houses more than 1.8 million sets of precious cultural relics, including a mega collection of literature, antiques from imperial collections and artefacts. The Palace Museum has embarked on the most comprehensive renovation in the 21st century.
Yanxi Gong is one of the Six Eastern Palaces in the inner zone of the Forbidden City. It was built in 1420 during the reign of Emperor Yong-Le (1403-1424) of the Ming Dynasty, and has served as the residence of court concubines during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. During the reign of Xuantong (1909-1911), construction of a western-style, three-storey building was initiated on the site of Yanxi Gong. Named Lingzhao Belvedere (also known as Crystal Palace or the Hall of Water), it is the only western-style building in the Forbidden City. The building was built on white marble foundation with cast-iron hexagonal pavilion structure, it was adorned with intricately carved white marble façade and coloured porcelain tiles. The construction illustrates cultural exchanges and how traditional Chinese form of arts and architecture blends with Western style. Yanxi Gong was converted into the warehouse of antiques of Palace Museum in 1931. It will house the Gallery of Foreign Artefacts after restoration.
Mr Robert Ng, Chairman of the Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation and Chairman of Sino Group, said at the signing ceremony, ‘The Palace is China’s national treasure. It epitomises the highest level of traditional Chinese architectural prowess as well as Chinese philosophy and art. The Belt and Road Initiative not only entails hardware like infrastructure, it also aims to promote Chinese culture and exchanges with other countries.’
The Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation is a steadfast advocate of good causes covering poverty alleviation, education, medical service, environmental protection and heritage conservation. Over the years, it has pledged over RMB2 billion to support various good causes. In 2018, the Foundation donated RMB10 million to the China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation to support restoration of the section of the Great Wall in Yanqing District. The ‘Ng Teng Fong / Sino Visits to the Great Wall for Hong Kong Youth’ project was also commenced. With an objective of deepening appreciation of history and fostering sense of identity, Hong Kong youths will be hosted to annual visits to the Great Wall to appreciate the national treasure first-hand, and record the development of the Great Wall with their writing. The Foundation has also pledged to Tsinghua University to support its Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) Programme to groom the next generations of talents with broad perspective. With the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area, the Foundation looks forward to supporting exchanges of the youth in the bay area, creating an environment conducive to realise their dreams.
Mr Daryl Ng, Director of the Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation and Deputy Chairman of Sino Group, said, ‘China is one of the earliest civilisations, it is important for us to safeguard cultural heritage. We are honoured to have the opportunity to support restoration of such a unique landmark. Lingzhao Belvedere of Yanxi Gong is the only Western-style building in the Forbidden City, it retains the Chinese culture while harmoniously blending in Western architecture. This remarkable example of East-meets-West, created in the Forbidden City more than 110 years ago, shows that China has been open to different cultures. The Belt and Road Initiative continues this spirit, and promotes cultural development with other countries. The pledge will be used to support restoration of Yanxi Gong. After restoration, the palace will be an attractive destination for visitors and for those who want to better understand Chinese culture. More importantly, exchange programmes and workshops will be offered to Hong Kong youths to help them appreciate the value and craft of the Forbidden City first-hand.’
The Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation was established in 2010 in memory of the late founder of Sino Group, Mr Ng Teng Fong. The Foundation is a steadfast advocate of education, youth development and community services. In the past years, the Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation has supported over 200 local non-governmental organisations and social enterprises. In addition to supporting good causes such as the Hong Kong Arts Festival, the National Gallery of Singapore and restoration of the Great Wall, the Foundation provides financial assistance for students from underprivileged families in Mainland China and Hong Kong through the Ng Teng Fong Scholarships. It also supports scholastic initiatives of Peking University, Tsinghua University and Zhejiang University in Mainland China as well as the National University of Singapore, Singapore University of Technology and Design and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.