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Beijing begins inspections of cultural sites

Beijing will begin yearly inspections of its cultural relics to better protect its history, the city's cultural heritage protection officials said on Tuesday.


The first stage of work, which was expected to cost three million yuan (US$438,000), consists of examining and appraising damages to and structural safety of nearly 20 of the city's 370 cultural heritage sites. Officials did not say which sites will be first on the list or exactly how long the first stage will last.


Of the total number of sites, 104 are under state-level protection.


"The city has spent more than one billion yuan restoring cultural relics in the past ten years," said Wang Yuwei, an official with Beijing Administration for Cultural Heritage.


It went towards protecting Beijing's traditional architecture and renovating major heritage sites such as Shichahai Lake, Nanluogu Alley, Nanchizi Street, the Qianmen Gate and Liulichang Street.


"Siheyuan", or the city's traditional residential courtyard and "hutongs," the narrow alleys between those courtyards, were also preserved.


Wang said that work is not enough.


"From now on, we will pay more attention to routine maintenance and examination. We should not wait until we have to conduct large-scale repairs. That's too late."


The Beijing municipal government has increased funding for the project. From 2008 to 2015, it will pay a total of 1.2 billion yuan.


(Xinhua News Agency December 10, 2008)