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Beijing Restores Historical Landmarks
Scaffolding is covering many historic sites in Beijing as the city restores its landmarks in time for the "human-oriented Olympics" in 2008.

The overhauling of the entire Forbidden City, the first since 1911, is well under way and expected to be completed in time for the Olympics, said Jin Hongkui, deputy curator of the Palace Museum.

In southeastern Beijing, ranks of workers are laying ancient bricks donated by local residents to rebuild a section of the once-demolished Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) city wall.

"The restoration of the wall keeps to its original appearance," said Luo Zhewen, a specialist in ancient buildings.

Other historical sites to be restored include the ancient walls of the Yuan (1271-1368) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, the Altar of Earth, the Xiannong Altar and the ruins of Yuanmingyuan, or the old Summer Palace.

To rebuild its image as an ancient capital, the city government plans to invest 120 million yuan (US$14 million) annually from 2003 to 2008 to protect cultural remains, according to Mei Ninghua, director of the municipal department of cultural relics.

Mei noted that Beijing will raise another 700 million yuan from different social circles to make the total sum to 1.3 billion yuan in the next five years.

"We hope tourists can still enjoy Beijing's ancient history amid its rapid growth," Mei said.

With a history of over 3,000 years and as ancient China's capital for more than 800 years, Beijing is known for a vast number of cultural sites, including the Great Wall, Summer Palace, noble residences, "hutongs" (lanes) and famous "siheyuans" (courtyard compounds).

To further protect its historical and cultural sites, Beijing unveiled a new program in September to safeguard the old city.

Under the program, 40 protection zones are defined with protection areas to-taling 2,617 hectares, about two-fifths of the old city.

(eastday.com October 28, 2002)

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