Relics Protection Stressed in Renovation for 2008 Games

Local archaeologists and experts are urging Beijing government to protect cultural relics that might be damaged by the massive construction campaign about to start to prepare for the 2008 Olympic Games.

Song Dachuan, head of the Beijing Historical Relics Institute, said that he hopes the bulldozers only scrape the ground instead of disrupting our long history so future generations do not regret what we did.

Song was quoted by Friday's China Daily as saying that the 2008 Summer Games will certainly help along Beijing's modernization drive, but evidences for 3,000-year history of the ancient capital must remain intact.

Among the concerns is the massive renovation planned for ramshackle houses in the downtown area over the coming three years. That could endanger the protection of historical relics, especially those underground, Song said.

Already, some examples of workers damaging relics have occurred. An ancient stone bridge of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) was harmed while extending a street in southern Beijing this month, according to experts.

Also, in northern Beijing's Haidian District, a real estate company erecting an apartment building destroyed the ruins of a garden of an emperor's relative created during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

That act prompted officials with the Beijing Cultural Relics Protection Administration to speed up efforts to curb such malpractice.

Residents and travel services were worried that large-scale renovation may affect the city's thriving industry of tours through Beijing's hutong, or old lanes, and buildings, because many will be demolished to alleviate downtown traffic jams.

Although the local government has allocated 330 million yuan (39.8 million US dollars) over three years to protect major historical relics and sites, experts suggest the government should find new ways to obtain more money for cultural relics protection.

People's Daily Online ---