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Capital Renovates Ming Dynasty Ancient Wall


Beijing, the Chinese capital with a history of more than 3,000 years, accelerated plans to protect its historical heritage by kicking off a renovation project of its old city wall, which was built in the Ming Dynasty (1386-1644), on Saturday.

The renovation, launched by the municipal government as the city's largest ever cultural relics repair project, aims by May to build a relics park around the section of the ancient wall covering an area of 13 hectares, according to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Cultural Relics.

The 1,600-metre-long section of the ancient city wall involved in the project stretches from Dongbianmen to Chongwen-men, going from east to west.

Kong Fanzhi, vice-director of the bureau, noted the old city wall inside the park has not been repaired in a thorough way.

Instead, the renovators will keep the original construction of the old wall.

Therefore, the municipal government urged citizens to donate old wall bricks, which were once used to build residential houses, air-raid shelters and even toilets in the 1960s.

So far, more than 200,000 original bricks have been returned by local residents, but experts estimated a total of 2 million such bricks are needed for the renovation. And the brick donations are continuing.

Meanwhile, to ensure the renovation goes smoothly, the municipal government will clear out all factors jeopardizing the maintenance of the cultural relics, including moving residences and businesses and razing illegal and dilapidated buildings occupying the city wall site.

The first batch of 16 enterprises have been moved out of the project area and the dozens of businesses, as well as 2,000 residences in the region, are expected to be vacated by the end of next month, according to bureau officials.

The old city wall involved in the renovation project is one of only two sections existing Ming Dynasty city walls in Beijing, and was built in the 1531-48 period. The wall has been badly damaged over past centuries and has not been repaired for many years. Until now, only a few historical cities, such as Xi'an, Pingyao and Xingcheng, have kept their original city walls. The city wall in the ancient city of Pingyao in North China's Shanxi Province was included on the World Heritage List by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

(Xinhua News Agency December 24, 2001)

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