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Over 1,500 relics unearthed in Olympic sites
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Archaeologist have unearthed around 1,500 cultural relics in 18 Olympic construction sites, according to the Beijing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage.

"The protection of cultural heritage is always on top of the agenda for Beijing, which has more than 3,000 years of history of urban development," said Kong Fanzhi, the administration director, at a press conference here on Tuesday. "It has abundant cultural heritage both on and under the earth."

The capital had stepped up its cultural heritage protection after its winning bid to host the Olympics in 2001.

Kong said the Olympic venues were mainly built in the area between the north Fourth Ring Road and north Fifth Ring Road, where cultural heritage sites were not as clustered as in the older parts of the city.

He added the "Water Cube," or the National Aquatics Center, was originally designed to be built in line with the "Bird's Nest," the National Stadium, but it was moved 100 meters north of the original site to protect an ancient temple.

The municipal government had also renovated cultural heritage sites in the areas around Olympic venues that were still used by organizations and residents.

Kong said the Beijing government had its increased investment for cultural heritage. From 2000, it invested 100 million yuan (14.3 million U.S. dollars) annually in cultural heritage protection, a sharp increase compared with the 1 million yuan (143,000 U.S. dollars) annually before 1990.

Beijing has also improved the relevant laws and regulations to protect hutongs, the old lane houses, and the old city's appearance. It also reinforced the protection of world cultural heritage in renovating the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace and other cultural heritage to keep their authenticity and integrity, he said.

In recent years, Beijing had renovated 139 cultural heritage sites above the municipal level, with a total renovation area of about 500,000 square meters.

(Xinhua News Agency July 30, 2008)

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