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Macao SAR government proposes cultural heritage protection bill
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The government of Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) Tuesday announced the completed version of the cultural heritage protection bill which will be put on public consultation on April 30, 2009.

The bill expands the concept of "cultural heritage" by extending its legal content from physical cultural heritage to intangible ones, and from properties (buildings) to all valuable relics, according to a press release from the SAR's Cultural Institute. The proposed law also dedicated a full chapter elaborating on the principles and systems of the protection of " The Historic Center of Macao".

"The Historic Center of Macao" is a living representation of the city's historic settlement, encompassing architectural legacies interwoven in the midst of the original urban fabric that includes streetscapes and piazzas, such as Barra Square, Lilau Square, St. Augustine's Square, Senado Square, Cathedral Square, St. Dominic's Square, Company of Jesus Square and Camoes Square.

The Cultural Institute attaches great importance to the bill, which was also seen as a close cooperation between the government and the residents in terms of cultural heritage protection, said Heidi Ho Lai Chun da Luz, president of the Institute.

Macao, an island city west of Hong Kong, is famous for its European-style buildings which was built by the Portuguese during Macao's colonial period. A number of these buildings have already been put on the UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage List.

However, the insufficient protection of these heritage sites has attracted unwanted international attention, as China's National Committee for UNESCO received a letter from the Director of the World Heritage Center of UNESCO Francesco Bandarin at the end of 2007, referring to the impact of certain buildings and some ongoing projects on the framework landscape of the Guia Lighthouse, a local world heritage site, particularly in its surrounding areas.

The letter was later forwarded to the China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage. Prompted by the letter, the SAR government has imposed a height limit on buildings in the sites surrounding areas last year.

(Xinhua  News Agency February 11, 2009)

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