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China, Switzerland Reconstruct Historical Site

China is working with Switzerland to reconstruct an ancient bazaar in the Shaxi Town, Jianchuan County, southwest China's Yunnan Province, which was among the watch list of 101 world's most endangered sites released by the World Monuments Fund (WMF).

The first phase of the reconstruction project has been finished and the ancient bazaar is ready to open to tourists, said the project authorities.

With intact theaters, inns, temples and gates, the bazaar, dating from the Qin and Han dynasties (BC 221AD 220), is the only well-preserved example of its kind along a famous ancient tea trade route that connects the region with Tibet and south east Asia.

To better protect the site, the government of Jianchuan signed a memorandum on the reconstruction with the Switzerland Technological University in 2002, aiming to recover the prosperity of the ancient bazaar.

According to the memorandum, both sides will jointly invest 27 million yuan (about US$3.26 million) to protect the bazaar and develop villages around it, help the town shake off poverty and protect the local culture of Jianchuan county, where 90 percent of the population is of the Bai minority.

This year, a total of 4.5 million yuan (about US$543,636) foreign capital has gone to the reconstruction.

At present, both sides are to start the second phase of the project, which will focus on recreating the ancient scene of the bazaar, the region's poverty-elimination and local cultural protection.

(Xinhua News Agency November 23, 2004)

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