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Preparations in Full Swing for 28th Session of World Heritage Committee

Preparations for the 28th session of the World Heritage Committee, to be launched in Suzhou at the end of June, is now in full swing, said a local official in Suzhou Friday.

Jiang Renjie, vice-mayor of Suzhou of east China's Jiangsu Province, said the upcoming meeting, to be held for the first time in China, brings both challenges and opportunities to Suzhou.

"Suzhou succeeded in its bid to host this important occasion thanks to its world heritage and cultural heritage," said Jiang.

The first job is reconstructing the Suzhou City Planning Exhibition Hall into a conference hall covering 19,000 square meters, with six conference rooms, 18 workshops, press centers, and tea break rooms.

The hall also includes rooms for praying and restaurants. All equipment will be ready for use by the middle of next month, Jiang added.

Suzhou has also launched conservation work for the ancient city, including decorating the bus station, the telephone kiosk and street lamps in line with the style of the ancient architecture.

"Tourists will find they are in a historical and cultural city as soon as they enter Suzhou," said Jiang.

As Suzhou does not have an airport, in the lead-up to the conference, bus shuttles will run every hour between airports in Shanghai and Suzhou cities.

Volunteers from universities in Suzhou are being trained and they will participate in the conference. Organizers have designed a two-day trip that participants can join, including watching performances of local arts and a night cruise of the water city.

Suzhou has also strengthened security checks at the train station and bus terminals, according to Jiang.

Brochures on basic English conversation have been handed out to Suzhou citizens. Another 800 taxies will be running during the conference, according to Jiang.
(Xinhua News Agency April 17, 2004)

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