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Big investment on Beijing's relics protection

Big investment on Beijing's relics protection

Updated: 2012-04-16 15:49


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Beijing will make the largest ever investment on cultural relics restoration and renovation this year, a local cultural heritage official said on February 23.

The investment will total 1 billion yuan ($159 million) for the current year, increasing significantly from 150 million yuan spent annually over the past couple of years, said Kong Fanzhi, director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Cultural Heritage.

Apart from the renovation on existing relics, the cultural heritage authorities will also start rebuilding six iconic architectural constructions of Beijing, the old capital city of the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911), mainly ancient city gates, as of April, Kong said at the protection campaign launching ceremony.

Most of the city gates and city walls of Ming and Qing, China's last two feudal dynasties, were demolished in the 1950s and 1960s to make way for new roads or subway lines.

The rebuilding plan has sparked a public outcry as many questioned the protection practices and lavish spending on "fake" cultural relics.

"Bullshit! Demolition continues here while rebuilding starts there," wrote "Xinyanyuhan" on Sina Weibo, the popular Twitter-like microblogging service in China.

Over the years, many "siheyuan", or traditional courtyard homes, in Beijing have been bulldozed to make way for real estate projects or city infrastructures. The former courtyard homes of many celebrities could not even avoid the same fate.

In the latest case, the former courtyard home of late famous architect couple Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin was bulldozed by a real estate developer in the name of preservation in December. Liang's plan to prevent modern development in the ancient downtown area of Beijing by building a new city west of the ancient one was nipped in the 1950s.

Lin was reported to have lashed out at Wu Han, a vice mayor of Beijing in charge of demolitions in 1950s. "If you demolish the relics, you'll regret for the move. Even you rebuild them later, they will be fake relics," she said when in confrontation with Wu at a dinner party.

Authorities in Beijing has ordered Fuheng Real Estate to restore the cultural heritage site and also fined the developer 500,000 yuan ($79,400) for its illegal bulldozing.

Kong said that in a bid to avoid the repeat of demolitions like that on the former home of Liang and Lin, the bureau will recruit 1,000 cultural heritage supervisors to monitor the protection of ancient relics and prevent any artificial and natural damages.