Chinese government to safeguard old Beijing

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Beijing’s city legislature has approved a bill, one year in the making, to safeguard the historical and cultural heritage of old Beijing. The new 41-article set of regulations will come into effect May 1, requiring the city to protect listed heritage sites and unlisted sites deemed of historical or cultural value. It also guarantees protection for the area within the city’s Second Ring Road.

Director of the Beijing Administrative Bureau of Cultural Heritage, Mei Ninghua, said “the most encouraging content of the regulations is that Beijing will pay more attention to protecting the old city’s landscape in its entirety, rather than just focussing on scattered heritage sites.” This means the old city layout, colours of buildings, and the names of houses and lanes will have legal protection.

“We took measures to protect the city’s siheyuan courtyard houses by tagging protection plates on more than 650 of them in 2003, preventing them from being demolished or damaged during the city’s massive housing reconstruction projects,” said Mei.

“Now the new regulations give legal buttress to the protection of siheyuan courtyard homes, as well as other unmovable ancient treasures, that have yet to be listed but are at risk of being demolished during urban renovation.”

Modern Beijing, capital of China for 850 years, was built by Mongul Emporer Kublai Khan in 1267 AD. In the vicinity of the current city once was Ji (?), the capital of the State of Yan (?), a power of the Warring States Period – but it has been lost in the mists of time.

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