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Unearthed relics remain unprotected

Global Times by Fang Yunyu, Thursday 30 September

Workers unearth a stone sculpture of a Yuan-dynasty dragon head at Taoranting Park, Xicheng district, in this file photo from 2009. Photo: CFP

Workers unearth a stone sculpture of a Yuan-dynasty dragon head at Taoranting Park, Xicheng district, in this file photo from 2009. Photo: CFP

Relics unearthed by developers may continue to be ignored, destroyed or abused for another two years while waiting for city regulations to patch up a national law, a heritage expert warned Wednesday.

The real protection umbrella of laws won’t come into force until 2012 or even later, feared He Shuzhong, director of the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center, a non-governmental organization dedicated to historical preservation in China.

“The law for underground relics protection hasn’t been respected and carried out,” He said, “even though the Law on Protection of Cultural Relics has existed since 2003.”

To close the loopholes, a new set of regulations are scheduled for passage, but not until approximately 2012.

“We hope we can finish the draft measures for protecting underground relics next year,” said Yin Jun, Municipal Bureau of Cultural Heritage spokesman.

After that, the city’s legal affairs office will carry out an “implementation review” of the draft.

Compared to the fast pace of the city’s development, that is still too slow, members of the city’s committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) told the Beijing News Tuesday.

Of 4,191 projects under construction between 2007 and 2008, 91 had conducted underground monument investigations and excavations, according to the CPPCC municipal committee.

The Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center has documented 35 cases of underground relics’ damage in the last three years.

“That’s the figure we found,” said an expert on relics protection who spoke on condition of anonymity, “but I believe the real figure must be far larger.”

It is in the natural commercial interest of real estate developers to say nothing if they find relics, he said, “because if they report them, their project may be forced to halt.”

The expert additionally pointed out, “If developers are found to have damaged relics, there’s still no actual punishment, which is a loophole in law enforcement.”

Read the original article.

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