XI'AN: Advertising billboards within the old Xi'an city wall will be banned in an effort to preserve the ancient capital's splendor.
"We will check leases on legal advertising billboards on and around the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) city wall from now till the end of November, and order them to be taken down as soon as contracts expire," Bo Xiangyu, deputy secretary-general of Xi'an government, said.
All outdoor advertising in the area enclosed by the city wall will be banned, Bo said.
Advertising other than at bus stops and certain approved electronic screens in the 12-sq km area inside the city wall will be prohibited.
"No billboards will be allowed on the Xi'an city wall in order to protect it," Bo said.
"We shall also take down illegally erected hoardings in the downtown area of the city," he said.
"We expect to demolish 190 inside the city wall by the end of this year," he said.
And all the advertising billboards inside the city wall will be demolished by the end of next year when their advertising contracts expire, he said.
Xi'an has a history of more than 3,000 years and was China's capital for 13 dynasties and is the site of many ancient ruins, cultural relics and buildings.
The purpose of the advertising ban is to preserve the city's ancient ethos by eliminating visual pollution, Bo said.
Three years will be spent on renovating outdoor advertising throughout Xi'an's urban areas.
The hoarding planned outside the city wall will coordinate with the surrounding environment, complementing the city's historical and cultural characteristics, Sun Fuxi, deputy director of Xi'an administration of cultural heritage, said.
The local government has ambitious plans to refurbish the area within the ancient imperial city wall by building old-style streets, commercial establishments and residential buildings in the area, He Hongxing, director of Xi'an urban planning bureau, said.
"We hope to complete our plan within 50 years, by which time the number of residents inside the city wall will have decreased from its present 450,000 to less than 250,000," He said.
The area inside the city wall is earmarked for tourism, he said.