Forbidden City hit by 'rich club' scandal (2)

10:24, May 14, 2011      

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Li Yingsheng, a sociology professor at the School of Sociology and Population Studies at the Renmin University of China, said the widespread debate likely resulted from outrage over the country's income gap.

"The so-called exclusive billionaires' club drew a specific line separating the rich from the poor. The majority of the public felt uncomfortable with it," Li told the Global Times Friday. Furthermore, the Forbidden City belongs to all the Chinese people, Li said.

"It should not be a money-making tool for a small number of people. The money made should go to maintenance and protection, and other sectors concerning public welfare," he added.

The Forbidden City drew public ridicule for its incompetent security after a migrant worker stole several rare items from its heavily guarded museum Monday night.

The suspect, 28-year-old Shi Baikui, was arrested 58 hours in an Internet café in Fengtai district in Beijing. Shi, who comes from a village in Heze, Shandong, said he had hidden himself in the grounds until everyone was gone before plundering the exhibits.

"It's not terrible to lose a few exhibits, but it is if we lose something more precious," Rui said in an entry.

This is not the first time Rui has been involved in a scandal connected with the Forbidden City. In January 2007, he criticized in his blog the compound's management for allowing coffee giants Starbucks to open a store on the grounds, saying it "undermined the Forbidden City's solemnity and trampled over Chinese culture."

The blog entry soon sparked a nationwide debate and generated a campaign to drive Starbucks out of the Forbidden City. The campaign ended with Starbucks finally closing the store on July 13, 2007 after eight years.
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