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Forbidden City loses 100 books

(Global Times)

09:56, August 19, 2011

The Forbidden City, or Palace Museum accrued two more scandals Thursday on top of its expanding series of humiliating snafus this year, this time the alleged loss of 100 ancient books and allegations of tax-dodging on certain entrance tickets.

The allegation about the lost books and ticket taxation were both true, Palace Museum news department officer Chang Lingxing confirmed to the Global Times Thursday, but it was not clear at press time if that second tax-dodging accusation applied to the Palace Museum or the National Museum.

An anonymous whistleblower calling himself an employee of the Palace Museum mailed a letter to the Beijing Times days ago exposing that "more than 100 ancient books listed in the museum's cultural heritage account were found missing from the storehouse in 2009 and the loss was reported to the museum's deputy director Chen Lihua.

Chen had asked the employees not to trace it, the letter writer alleged.

"Nobody was ever held responsible for the missing cultural heritage," the newspaper cited the letter written on Saturday as saying Thursday.

Chang confirmed the Beijing Times report and refused to comment more, "the newspaper's report was true," he said.

A museum manager told the newspaper the museum began sorting through the 200,000 ancient books in 2004, but 100 could not be found.

The museum stores about 400,000 ancient books of high historic value, the Beijing Times reported.

Then on Tuesday t.qq.com microblogger Chen Bingcai posted that the Palace Museum had charged 5 yuan ($0.78) or 10 yuan ($1.5) a ticket for exhibitions at the Duanmen Gate, without collecting any tax.

"The exhibition collected the money from visitors, but nobody supervised this," Chen wrote.

The exhibitions were not inside the Palace Museum, but the museum took the ticket income anyway, the Beijing Times reported.

The museum replied to the newspaper that the Duanmen Gate area previously was managed by the National Museum of China, and the museum was transferring the administrative right at present.

The National Museum of China could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The museum told the Beijing Times that the administrative right was transferred to the Palace Museum in April.

"The Palace Museum was involved in tax evasion, so the main manager should be responsible for the punishment according to the tax amount," lawyer Zhao Yutao with Beijing Zhaoyutao Law Firm told the Global Times Thursday.

The guilty party could face up to seven years' imprisonment, Zhao said.

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