Hidden in the maze-like streets of Haizhu District, the old dilapidated mansion of one of the richest merchants in China during the Qing Dynasty, Pan Zhencheng (潘振承), better known as Puankhequa (潘启官) by the historians, is going to be refurbished and opened to tourists.
In the Qing Dynasty, before the Opium War in the mid 19th century, the government imposed an embargo against all foreign countries and left Guangzhou as the only city permitting international trade. Thirteen local companies were patented to monopolize business. They were seen in the
history books as “Thirteen Hongs” or “Thirteen Factories.” Puankhequa, being the richest among them, was designated the head merchant.
Nowadays, the 200-hectare manor fails to reflect its illustrious history. Spider webs cover the western-style ceiling, the delicate wooden sculptures have decayed and the once colourful paintings on the doors are now hardly recognizable. The enormous mansion has been dissected by factories, schools and residents into dozens of small parts.
According to Zhang Xiaodong, director of Haizhu District’s cultural reserve authority, the government has come up with a detailed renovation plan for the mansion. As part of the history relics of the “Maritime Silk Road,” the mansion will become a new tourist attraction.