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Entrance fees at tourist attraction fueling controversy

BEIJING, Sept. 12 -- A popular tourist attraction in the city of Nanjing in Jiangsu province is fueling controversy for its entrance fees, amid an increasing trend at museums and other scenic spots associated with patriotic education dropping their admission charges.

The management of the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, which contains the tomb of the father of the Republic of China revered by many Chinese at home and abroad, has reportedly been facing criticism for not opening its site for free to the public.

The scenic spot has an admission fee of 80 yuan (11.60 U.S. dollars), higher than the Forbidden City in Beijing.

The authorities will open the spot to the public for free next year, an official of the Jiangsu administration of cultural heritage was quoted as saying by Hong Kong newspaper Ta Kung Pao.

The administration did not comment further on the issue yesterday.

The Hong Kong newspaper cited Zhang Yinong, a member of the Nanjing branch of the Jiu San Society, one of the country's eight non-Communist parties, as saying that the mausoleum management's interests had hurt the public interest. Zhang also reportedly asked for a thorough audit of the attraction's revenue.

In line with a regulation released earlier this year, museums, memorial halls and spots used for patriotic education began to open free of charge and received national allowances for rising operational costs.

Negotiations with the mausoleum's management on the issue reportedly fell apart because the site required an allowance of 300 million yuan every year, 10 times of what was proposed by the government.

Responding to the ongoing criticism, a publicity official of the mausoleum said yesterday that it is "impossible" for the attraction to be free.

The official, who refused to be named, said the revenue from admission tickets was being used for maintaining cultural relics and that the issue should be viewed from a long-term perspective.

Located in the eastern suburb of Nanjing, the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum is considered a top attraction containing deep historical significance, magnificent architecture and beautiful scenery.

Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925) is considered a major figure of the Chinese democratic revolution, under whose leadership the Chinese people overthrew the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). (Source: China Daily)