Advisors Call for Protection of Old Buildings

Eight Chinese political advisors have called for emergent measures to save the old buildings in a famous cultural area in downtown Beijing.

Wan Xuanrong and seven other members of the National Committee of the 10th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top political advisory body, have submitted a proposal on the protection of both tangible and intangible cultural relics around the Qianmen Street, which has been the center of old Beijing's cultural business for centuries.

According to a reconstruction plan, demolition covers 60 " hutongs," or lanes lined with traditional Beijing courtyard houses. Many of which, however, are cultural sites in the city's protection list.

Since December 2005, five cultural heritage sites dating back hundreds of years in Chongwen District, where part of the Qianmen area is located, have been pulled down , Wan said.

To take a prudent attitude toward the reconstruction of old urban areas where some relics of historical importance are located, a hearing system must be introduced before demolition takes place, Wan said.

"Some more old buildings, lanes and courtyards are in the reconstruction plan this year. We are worried that Beijing might lose part of its traditional flavor as an old capital city," Wan said.

(Xinhua News Agency March 9, 2006)


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