The plan to duplicate a restored version of Beijing's glorious
Summer Palace Park (Yuanmingyuan) has met with mixed public
response. Some disgruntled netizens consider the venture as a
lucrative business activity conducted in the name of public
The duplication of a restored version of Beijing's famous
Yuanmingyuan Park is now under way near Dongyang in the center of
Yuanmingyuan, the old Summer Palace, was built in 1709 during
the Qing Dynasty and served as an imperial park for the royal
family until it was burned down by British and French troops in
1860. The park was further damaged in 1900 by the allied army of
eight powers – Britain, France, Germany, Russia, the US, Japan,
Italy and Austria. The original park is now located in what is the
outskirts of the northwest section of Beijing.
The Hengdian Group, a private company, initiated in 2006 the
project to create a reconstructed version of this fabulous park,
which was historically known as the "Garden of Gardens" for its
luxurious palaces, mansions and décor that utilized both Western
and Eastern architectural styles. Their plan would create an exact
replica of the undamaged park at its original size. It is scheduled
to be completed in 2013. The firm estimates that the investment
will cost 20 billion yuan (US$2.78 billion).
The Hengdian Sigong Working Committee was founded by Xu Wenrong,
former President of the Hengdian Group, a company famous for
running a huge film and television complex in the east China
province of Zhejiang.
According to the committee, a news conference was scheduled to
be held in Beijing to kick off their first public fundraising
campaign on February 18.
However, the plan has met with mixed public response. About 63
percent of the netizens surveyed were against the project, among
whom 9 percent believed that it represented a lucrative business
venture and would cause destruction; 23 percent felt that the
project would promote traditional Chinese culture, according to a
Research indicated that profits would amount to 10 billion yuan
(US$1.39 billion) over 7 years after the project is completed.
"The project is a business venture. The 20 billion yuan needed
(US$2.78 billion) includes 7 billion yuan (US$973 million) for
construction and 13 billion yuan (US$1.8 billion) for collecting
and duplicating cultural relics," Xu Wenrong said.
"It will be a multi-functional theme park and it will bring new
growth to the local economy, especially regarding tourism," Xu
But, according to Xu, a specialized committee will be
established overseas to collect missing cultural relics, thus
making the project a public welfare undertaking.
He said that any reclaimed cultural treasures would be returned
to the government after they had been duplicated.
However, many netizens wonder how the private company will be
able to reclaim cultural relics looted by invading foreign
In addition, the project's fundraising approach has been
questioned. According to Xu, the 7 billion yuan for construction
will be collected through donations and by selling shares but the
funds for collecting and duplicating cultural relics will be raised
only through donations from home and abroad.
The Zhejiang Hengdian Yuanmingyuan Replica Special Foundation
under the China Film Foundation and the Zhejiang Foundation for
Chinese Cultural Development are the two approved donation
organizations used by the project to launch public donation
All the money collected by public fundraising foundations should
be used for public welfare undertakings, according to the
Regulations on the Management of Foundations.
Given that the project is defined as a commercial activity,
obviously, these fundraising methods and operations are against the
The project has thus been suspected of making profits in the
name of public undertaking, said some insiders.
(China.org.cn by Yang Xi, January 31, 2008)