2,300-year-old City to Be Protected

An ancient city regarded as a strategic southwestern stronghold -- and a lovely place to visit --by emperors of several Chinese dynasties is scheduled for a high-priced renovation.

The provincial government of southwest China's Sichuan province plans to spend about 300 million yuan (nearly US$ 37.5) on repairing and protecting the ancient city of Langzhong, located along the Jialing River, a branch of the Yangtze River.

Since the mid-Warring States Period (BC475 - BC221), emperors of all dynasties valued Langzhong as an important strategic location for governance of southwest China, and numerous dynasties set up government offices there.

Langzhong is also famed for its spectacular scenery. Many princes and royal members of different dynasties who visited there were so fascinated by the area's natural beauty that they had pavilions and pagodas built for their own use whenever they returned to the city.

Today's Langzhong retains most of its ancient architecture representing styles of various dynasties, and is regarded as one of China's four major ancient cities.

According to local officials, thousands of courtyards and a hundred or so streets and lanes remain, covering a total area of two square kilometers. Experts say the research value to be culled from the construction and architecture is inestimable.

More than 30,000 residents now live in the ancient city, and about 10,000 will be resettled to allow workers access to the site. Some of the residents have been told to remove their metal front doors which guard against theft but are out of sync with the original architectural style.

A city official said that all buildings which do not match the original style of the ancient city will be demolished.

And the government will put about 150 million yuan into modernizing the city, he said, citing as an example the electricity wires which used to get tangled in tree tops will be buried underground.

( People's Daily November 18, 2001)