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Forbidden City face-lift continues

Some 77 figure paintings depicting the life of Qing Emperor Yongzheng (reign 1723-1735) are on show at the Palace of Prolonging Happiness of the Palace Museum until March 12.


The fine brushwork, lively color schemes, realistic style and ornate composition present typical techniques employed by the court painters of that period.


Under the brush of the painters, the emperor is clad in Taoist robes, practices taichi on the edge of a cliff, is seen against a panoramic view of the imperial court, playing a zither in his study, with children and servants scattered, even farming, ploughing and sowing fields in Spring sunshine.


Visitors to the Palace Museum can also check out progress of the grand renovation project at the Forbidden City, which started in 2002 and will last for 19 years.


"In the year of 2008, 60 million yuan ($8.8 million) was invested from the State-level in the renovation of such sites as the Gate of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Supreme Harmony and the Gate of Divine Prowess," says Wang Yuwei, director of the cultural relics preservation department of the Beijing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage. "The volume will increase to 70 million yuan ($10.2 million) in the next year, with more sites open to the public."


The renovation of the Forbidden City is part of world cultural heritage protection project. The capital has its own protection project.


Thanks to the endeavors of the municipal government, many historical sites of the city have witnessed face-lifts in 2008, and more will be listed in the medium-to-long-term project. "The municipal government plans to inject an annual 150 million yuan ($21.9 million) into protection projects from 2008 to 2015," says Wang. "This year, with an investment of 15 million yuan ($2.2 million), 31 reparation projects and some 70 safety projects have been arranged by the administration."


The renovation scheme of the Golden Water Bridge, which leads past the Tian'anmen Rostrum to the Forbidden City, is to be started and will be finished by May Day next year, as a gift to celebrate the 60th anniversary of New China.


Other destinations with new faces this year around the town include the Confucius Temple and Imperial College Museum, Princess Gong's Palace and Xishiku Church (North Church), the Badaling Residual Great Wall and historical sites in the Yuanmingyuan Garden.


(China Daily December 30, 2008)