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Protection faces severe situation in China
( 2003-10-26 08:11) (Xinhua)

Cultural relics protection is under severe threat in China as criminals still seek profits from relics and city reconstruction poses a menace to urban cultural heritage.

The remarks were made by Shan Jixiang, director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, at a national working conference on cultural relics protection held on Saturday.

Shan analyzed some major problems existing in national cultural relics protection.

The safety of housed relics is worrisome, he said. Since 1998, eight cases have been uncovered involving several museum workers and 268 smuggled relics.

Li Haitao, former head of Wai Bamiao Temple protection office in Chengde City in Hebei Province, stole 158 relics in 12 years, which is a typical example of cases in recent years.

Stone sculptures and relics in temples are vulnerable to theft since most of them are widely scattered in fields and lack enough protection. Since 1996, a total of 252 cases have occurred regarding these relics, about 67.7 percent of the total relics cases during the period.

Driven by huge profits, criminals are active in digging ancient tombs and cultural heritage sites. They usually employ modern communication and transportation instruments and destroyed many graves with historical value.

In 2001, local police cracked a case in Sanmenxia Gorge in Henan Province, arresting 20 criminals who dug a 400-meter-long, 1. 2-meter-high and 0.7-meter-wide tunnel to an age-old tomb.

Some ancient constructions are vulnerable to fire. Since 1998, over 110 ancient rooms and 537 relic items were destroyed in fire.

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