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Bid to Safeguard City's Historic Sites
The Beijing Municipal People's Congress will today vote on a proposed law to protect and preserve parks in the nation's capital.

The motion stipulates that no large amusement outlets are allowed in historic sites and those already in existence have to be removed within a certain period of time.

The proposal -- in accordance with the requirement of turning the capital into a modern Cosmo polis while preserving historical and cultural sites -- insists on retaining the parks, their historical significance and original style for all.

It will also forbid any structure that destroys the harmony of the areas.

Historic sites on the list of Natural and Cultural World Heritage, like the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, gained most interest under the proposed law and will continue to be strongly protected and financially supported by government at all levels.

Special attention will also be given to Beijing's medium and small community parks.

Wan Suchun, a congress member, said: "Chinese citizens are more demanding than ever before. We have a two-day weekend now and we need more and better parks for relaxation."

According to the proposed law, any new or renovated residential development in Beijing must also include parkland.

By improving the legal system, intensifying law enforcement and promoting public awareness, the congress hopes to create a better living environment for residents.

The proposal is expected to be carried unanimously.

Shanghai and Chongqing municipalities have already enacted a similar law locally, setting a good example for Beijing to follow.

There are 139 parks in Beijing but park area per capita is only 3 square meters. It compares with London's 24.5 square meters per capita and Paris's 13.8 square meters per capita, indicating large differences between Beijing and Western countries.

In Chinese coastal cities such as Dalian in Northeast China's Liaoning Province and Shenzhen in South China's Guangdong Province, the per capita park space is 7 and 10 square meters respectively.

(China Daily October 17, 2002)

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