Local authorities in Zhejiang Province have started an investigation into damage caused to a nationally protected cultural heritage site allegedly by a TV production company that was shooting a kung fu TV show.
The cultural site, called Xiandu Scenic Zone, is located in Jinyun County in the southern part of Zhejiang. It has carved Chinese characters on a cliff face, done during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 ).
To improve their show, the team from Guangdong-based Qiangshi TV Production Company painted the rocks last May to cover up two large Chinese characters. They did this without the permission of the local authorities.
"After the damage, they gave 2,000 yuan (US$250) to the zone's workers to clean it off," said Hou Xiaoyu, a top official with Zhejiang Bureau of Cultural Heritage.
"This irresponsible behaviour has broken the national law to protect cultural heritage sites," said Yang Xinping, another official from the bureau.
According to the law, any person or institution that wants to change a cultural site must get the permission of the local cultural heritage administration bureau beforehand.
"They didn't even get permission to shoot in Xiandu and so that was illegal too," added Yang.
In 2001, to protect cultural sites, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage issued a regulation, saying that all production companies must get the permission of local administrators before shooting in protected places.
"It's lucky that local residents asked them to stop damaging the carvings, or a lot more damage would have been caused," Hou said.
The TV production company apologized in a public letter for the damage to the cultural site last Sunday, but Hou said their intention was only to "shirk their responsibility."
"They claimed in the apology that they had no idea the carved words were cultural relics, but this claim doesn't hold water since everyone who has been to Xiandu knows the carved words are historic," Hou said.
The damage did not arouse concern until it was revealed by local media reports last week.
"We immediately stepped in after we read the reports and required Jinyun County government to launch an investigation," Hou said.
This kind of damage is just one of several cases across China.
There was widespread concern after mainland director Chen Kaige's production team was condemned recently after damage to a lake in Southwest China's Yunnan Province.
Source: China Daily