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US$10 Million Spent to Restore Silk Road

More than 80 million yuan (US$10 million) could go to the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to restore the Silk Road, officials said yesterday.


Almost 2,000 years ago the route connected imperial China to the Roman Empire, now almost one-third of the 250 million yuan (US$30 million) China has pledged to spend annually on cultural heritage sites could go on restoring parts of the road to its former glory.


The 250 million yuan (US$30 million) will be used to maintain sites of historical significance, Zhang Bai, deputy director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, said yesterday at a briefing in Beijing.


The head of the Xinjiang Bureau of Cultural Heritage told China Daily in a phone interview that the State has promised to invest 80 million yuan (US$9.6 million) each year in the Silk Road protection project.


"Two weeks ago, we submitted several optional plans regarding the use of money to the administration. We are still waiting for the final answer," said Sheng Chunshou, head of the bureau.


More than 4,000 cultural heritage sites in Xinjiang and "more than a dozen along the Silk Road need urgent maintenance," Sheng said.


China has registered more than 400,000 immovable cultural properties, of which the State Council has certified 1,271 as key cultural heritage sites with national protection. Of these, 30 are on the World Heritage List.


Zhang said State and local governments should keep investing in cultural heritage protection.


Between 2000 and 2005, no less than 2.2 billion yuan (US$260 million) was invested in the programme, a 21 per cent increase over the previous five years, he said.


(China Daily July 6, 2005)


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