Pingyao, a well-known ancient city in north China, will move more than 20,000 residents out of the city proper in the next four years to better protect this World Cultural Heritage site.
The city, in Shanxi Province, was built 2,000 years ago. It has well-preserved ancient city walls, residences, government offices, and stores of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.
The ancient city was put on the World Cultural Heritage list in 1997.
Covering an area of 2.25 square kilometers, the city has a population of 45,000.
To restore the original outlook of the ancient city, the local government decided to relocate residents in the downtown area last year.
Relocation of three hospitals, seven schools and kindergartens is expected to be completed within the year. The population in the downtown area is expected to be reduced to less than 20,000 by 2005 when all work units are moved out.
Meanwhile, the city government has made great efforts to improve the local environment. Thirty polluting enterprises around the city are to be closed, 30 chimneys and more than 400 coke furnaces will be demolished in the near future.
The city will also standardize advertising signs along main city streets and improve greenery along a dozen streets.
(Xinhua News Agency May 17, 2002)