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Legendary rock's demolishment sparks controversy
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On the afternoon of February 18, with a loud boom, the first phase of demolishing a legendary rock located in the middle of the Yangtze River was completed, with a small part of the main hulk successfully removed.

The first phase of demolishing "Hugui" rock was successfully carried out on February 18.

Preparation is made for the next phases of demolishment on February 18.

The rock is located in the area of Chongqing. Locally it is called the "Hugui" (summoning home) Rock. Locals believe it is related to the tale of Yu the Great, a figure who lived more than four thousand years ago. Was it appropriate to demolish the rock? Hot disputes have taken place between the authorities and the public.

The Yangtze River Waterway Bureau of Chongqing thought the rock blocked the waterway to some extent and affected the river current. If water in the Three Gorges Reservoir area were to be lifted to a height of 175 meters, the rock would become a reef and endanger ships passing by. Moreover, with the rock in the way, large ships with a displacement of over 10,000 tons could get stuck in the waterway. But if the rock were removed large vessels could easily navigate through the waterway and transport capacity could increase by 20 percent. Chongqing could then establish itself as a transport hub in the upper reach of the Yangtze River in the future.

A lot of Chongqing locals did not think it right to sacrifice cultural heritage for petty economic interests. The writer Lao Luo published a thread on Tianya, an online community, calling for preservation of Yu the Great's rock as a cultural heritage site. A large number of netizens expressed their support in their responding threads. Some even made preservation suggestions; for example, cutting the rock into several pieces and putting them away in a museum.

The waterway bureau asserted that they had showed great concern over the local people's reactions. They even formed a special team to do research on the rock and concluded that it did not qualify for historical or cultural heritage and it was not worth preserving. Some locals agreed with the bureau, noting it was not wise to sacrifice solid economic development for an ephemeral fable.

Finally the bureau, after getting necessary permits and conducting a comprehensive environment evaluation, began to demolish "Hugui" rock on February 18. They kept a very low profile in order to avoid any disturbance from locals.

According to the well-known legend, Yu the Great, after marrying Tushannu in Jiangzhou (today Chongqing), devoted himself completely to fighting the great flood which his father, Gong, had failed to control. For three years he left his home and wife. Three times he passed the door of his house without going in because he was so occupied with his work. His wife missed him so much that she stood by the Yangtze River day after day in order to catch a glimpse of her husband returning home. She waited so long that the poor woman finally turned into stone. Happily, Yu the Great eventually subdued the flood and relieved his people from further aquatic disasters. In commemoration of his great contribution to society, local people named the rock (his former wife) "Hugui".

( by Pang Li, February 21, 2008)  

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