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Home > News > News > Overseas Chinese Entrepreneurs | Honorary President Chan Laiwa: "Craftsmanship" Guarding the Culture of Red Sandalwood

Overseas Chinese Entrepreneurs | Honorary President Chan Laiwa: "Craftsmanship" Guarding the Culture of Red Sandalwood

Pubdate:2021-11-05

In the past centuries, each historical process has recorded the unique contribution of overseas Chinese businessmen who share the same fate with their home countries. China Overseas Chinese Network, in conjunction with China News Video, has launched a series of columns en d "The Way of Overseas Chinese Businessmen" to listen to the stories of overseas Chinese businessmen about their love for their home country.

"In the future, I hope to build a cultural park in old Beijing and put the works of the city gate made of rosewood in it for the public to display, so as to create a new cultural card of Beijing." Chan Laiwa, Honorary Chairman of the China Overseas Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of the Board of Fuwah International Group, showed her love for red sandalwood in a conversation with reporters.




 Chan Laiwa left Beijing for Hong Kong in 1980 and, upon returning to the mainland in 1986, established the China Red Sandalwood Museum in Beijing. "In 1986, I was kindly received by Deng Yingchao, then chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, when she shook my hand and asked me to come back."

Chan Laiwa recalls, "Deng's hands were hot and this meeting made me feel at home because my roots were still in the mainland." After discussing with her family, Chan Laiwa decided that her whole family would return to the mainland and join the construction of the new Beijing, and she became a model of an overseas businessman who returned to the mainland to invest and develop in the 1980s.

Successful in business, Chan Laiwa then made a bold decision to focus her efforts on the cultural heritage of rosewood.

Chan Laiwa said, "When I returned to Beijing from Hong Kong, I ran a red sandalwood furniture factory, and at that time Beijing was going to hold the Asian Games, and I wanted to do something for the Asian Games, so I proposed to the Beijing government to make a carved dragon screen of red sandalwood for the official use of the Asian Games to receive foreign guests."

The former vice president of the Palace Museum, Shan Shiyuan, and three national experts in cultural relics, Wang Shixiang and Zhu Jiaxiang, then went to Chan Laiwa's warehouse to make an appraisal. "The moment I opened the door of the warehouse, several experts were surprised by the stock of red sandalwood in the warehouse, and they were very excited to see the red sandalwood screen I was going to donate and supported me in replicating the Forbidden City relics with red sandalwood."




The affirmation of the three old gentlemen was a great encouragement for Chan Laiwa, and at the same time reinforced her desire to engage in the study and transmission of red sandalwood culture. For a long time afterwards, Chan Laiwa personally went to the Forbidden City to carefully study and measure the dimensions of every single storage room and artifact.

"Sometimes there was no ruler, so I took the hair strands to measure them, in order to be able to achieve a perfect and 100% restoration when replicating these relics with rosewood." Chan Laiwa said here, her gaze persistent and determined.

According to Chan Laiwa, as of 2021, she and her team have made more than 20,000 pieces of red sandalwood, with more than 990 pieces on display in the China Red Sandalwood Museum in Beijing. in 2019, she also opened the Hengqin branch of the China Red Sandalwood Museum in Zhuhai.

From 2008 to 2016, Chan Laiwa's team used red sandalwood in a 10:1 ratio to replicate 16 old city gates and 10 corner towers in old Beijing.

Chan Laiwa admits that her childhood impressions of the old Beijing gates made her decide to do this work. Experts from the Forbidden City, Zhao Chongmao, Pu Xuelin and Wang Zhongjie, also assisted in finding drawings and documents.




"At that time, Zhao Chongmao said to me, "You have to do this thing more than what it costs to build a city gate!" But Chan Laiwa persisted, personally studying the drawings and materials, and working day and night with workers to finally restore this old Beijing city gate and corner tower vividly.

Chan Laiwa said, "I always feel that I have to leave something behind. Instead of leaving money to the descendants, I would rather leave these cultural treasures left to us by our old ancestors to the descendants, because this is a kind of inheritance." She is very pleased, and her family also thinks it is very meaningful and very supportive of her.

It has been 35 years since Chan Laiwa returned to the mainland for development, and these 35 years are also the stage when China's economy is taking off and developing rapidly. "China is my home, and my sons and daughters will hold on to the roots and soul of China no matter how many generations are to come. It is a great achievement that our country has developed from nothing to now, and I hope that generation after generation will have the family and the country in mind.”

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