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Suzhou sets out to protect 2,500-year-old walls

By CANG WEI in Nanjing | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-16 08:03

Culture officials in Suzhou, the so-called Venice of the Orient, have drafted regulations aimed at preserving the city's 2,500-year-old walls.

The legislation, which is open to public opinion until Sunday, includes a ban on advertisement hoardings, high-rise buildings, and industrial and commercial structures being built next to the walls or in nearby neighborhoods.

Experts will be also invited to conduct studies on the 15.5 kilometers of walls and make repairs to brickwork, while funds will be allocated to restore the surrounding areas, according to the city's culture department, which drafted the rules.

If approved, the city in Jiangsu province will become China's third city to introduce regulations to protect its ancient walls, after provincial capital Nanjing and Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province.

The ancient walls also include gates, ramparts and underground foundations. Some gates are listed as national-level and provincial-level cultural relic protection sites.

Some walls have been reconstructed and a city wall museum has been built, in which 19 ancient wall maps and samples of ancient wall parts are exhibited.

Though the government has been protecting and repairing the walls since 2002, no specific regulations had previously been made in the city.

Yu Tongyuan, a history professor at Suzhou University, said the city's ancient walls are in poor condition due to environmental and historical reasons.

"Many parts of the walls are missing and new buildings have been constructed on the ruins of some parts," Yu said.

"An overall plan should be made to protect the walls across the city, and many aspects need to be taken into consideration. An overall plan will help restore views of ancient Suzhou," he added.

Ma Yan, a resident in the city, said: "The government should be the pioneer in protecting the walls. They are one of the city's symbols and treasures."

"Sometimes I notice people have graffitied or defaced the walls. They should feel ashamed and stop such selfish behavior," Ma added.

Suzhou is home to classic gardens that have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Guo Jun contributed to this story.

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