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Beijing temples used as restaurants | Updated: 2013-01-30 21:34

Beijing's cultural heritage authority has confirmed that parts of two ancient temples under government protection were used as restaurants, and urged the legislature to update its regulations to better protect historical sites, Beijing Evening News reported Jan 29.

The Songzhu Temple and Zhizhu Temple, near each other in the Dongcheng district, were built more than 200 years ago. They have been listed as cultural and historical sites under city protection.

But Chinese media reported a few days ago that the two temples have been transformed into high-end restaurants, where people can enjoy exquisite food and wine.

A plate inscribed "Temple Restaurant Beijing" is hanging on a wall of Zhizhu Temple.

The restaurant opens only to a small group of people, as the average bill is 500 yuan ($80) each.

An anonymous waiter from the restaurant was quoted as saying that it opened in 2011, and most of the customers are foreigners.

An investigation by the Beijing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage showed that the two temples had been rented to companies as working places or other purposes since the 1950s.

In 1980s, the property rights of the two temples were handed over to the Buddhist Association of Beijing.

But as historical reasons made it impossible for the tenants to move out, the tenants remained there, paying rents to the Buddhist association.

In 2005, the property owner and the tenants borrowed money to repair and maintain the two temples, which had been in disrepair for years. In return, the fund providers were allowed to use the temples.

The administration said it will urge the users of the temples to follow the rules, and it will strengthen protection of cultural relics.

But the legislature should also update cultural heritage regulations in line with the latest trends and developments, the administration said.

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