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China bans using historical sites as business assets

The State Council, or China's cabinet, has banned the use of cultural heritage sites in business operations more than a year after a palace in the Forbidden City was converted into a private luxury club.

In a circular dated Dec. 19 but released on Wednesday, the cabinet stressed that immovable cultural relics should not be transferred, mortgaged, tampered with or treated as business assets.

The conversion of cultural or historical sites into private clubs or restaurants occasionally occurs in China, with the most notable case being a club built in the Forbidden City's Jianfu Palace, where membership is said to cost 1 million yuan (160,281 U.S. dollars).

The circular cited urban development as a problem for historical buildings, banning groups or individuals from demolishing or removing cultural relics and historic buildings at will.

According to the circular, local governments should establish a special office for the management of state-protected cultural heritage sites that are listed as tourist attractions.

Administrative organizations for historical sites and buildings that are vulnerable to damage should cap the maximum number of tourists they receive. Suggestions include staggering visiting hours and approving visits by appointment.

In addition, the circular included detailed requirements for the approval of cultural relic-related tourism projects, increasing investment in the protection of cultural relics and strengthening supervision over related travel.

A draft law on tourism tabled at the ongoing bimonthly session of the country's top legislature echoes the circular by stipulating that sites should advertise the maximum number of visitors they can handle and take measures to control the flow of tourists.


Source: ecns.cn
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