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Ancient villages welcome investors

By Xu Junqian  (China Daily)

10:02, August 13, 2012

An ancient village in Suzhou, Jiangsu province. Qi Zhenlin / for China Daily

According to the regulations, historical houses in these villages can be acquired from the original inhabitants by the government or State-owned enterprises and then turned over to private investors for either renovation or repurchase.

The regulations state that this system will better protect the houses and allow them to be turned into small enterprises, such as tourist attractions, to raise money for their continual upkeep.

With more than 17 nationally and provincially authorized "ancient villages", Suzhou was, in 2005, one of the first cities in China to open the door to private capital to protect its historical sites. The city government said private investment can make up any financial shortfall to help preserve the ancient villages.

A total of 150 million yuan ($23.5 million) has been spent by the local government on renovation and infrastructure works to preserve the ancient villages over the past seven years.

Ancient villages are defined as one or a cluster of hamlets that feature at least 10 characteristic residences, temples or other forms of architecture, and were formed before 1911.

"The new policy is definitely good news for the villages," said Xu Gangyi, a retired member of the Suzhou government think tank on historical relic protection.

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