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Beijing denies historic building turned into club

By Ou Hailin  (

19:33, March 28, 2013

The Beijing cultural heritage administration denied a news report that claimed part of a historic building has been turned into a high-end private club, the Beijing Morning Post reported on March 28.

On March 26, an online report said that parts of Beijing's Yongdingmen gate tower, an ancient building reconstructed in 2005, has been converted into a private club, charging 500 yuan ($80) per guest.

The municipal Cultural Heritage Administration published the results of a preliminary investigation conducted by its law enforcement brigade. The probe could not find any evidence that the club even exists.

The administration said 90 percent of the tower is open to the public, with an area of only about 40 square meters closed to the public.

The administration said the closed area is used primarily as a dining place for the building's staff, and does not meet the conditions required to run a high-end private club.

But a cultural promotion organization that works with Dongcheng district's tourism and culture authorities in developing the Yongdingmen gate tower admitted in a written document on Wednesday that two groups of guests have been charged for dining in the tower this year, according to the newspaper.

On Feb 28, six people dined in the tower, paying 2,600 yuan each. On March 3, another group of 28 people had lunch in the tower at a cost of 2,000 yuan each.

Dongcheng district's culture authority has urged the gate tower's management to cease such activities.

As to the "petroleum gas tank" reportedly found in the tower, the district culture authority has asked the management to remove it to prevent any hazard.

The Yongdingmen gate tower, originally built in 1553, was torn down in the 1950s. Restored in 2005 on its old site, the building now covers an area of 522 square meters.

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