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Private firm to rebuild old Summer Palace
Latest Updated by 2006-09-19 11:19:04
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A private company has announced plans to rebuild Beijing's famous Yuanmingyuan Parkin Zhejiang Province.

Hengdian Group, famous for running a huge film and television complex in the East China province, made the announcement Monday.

Yuanmingyuan, the old Summer Palace, is a Qing Dynasty Imperial Park in the northwest of Beijing.

Construction began in 1709 and continued for 150 years under five emperors. But it was burnt to the ground in 1860 by French and British troops.

Hengdian will rebuild Yuanmingyuan near Dongyang in the centre of the province. A spokesman for the group surnamed Shi said it will be built to scale, covering an area of 350 hectares.

Shi said the plan has gained support from the government as it will bring new impetus to the local economy, especially the tourism industry.

The group will invest 20 billion yuan (US$2.47 billion) over five years.

"The park will be located in a remote place in the countryside, with hills, rivers and farmland, which corresponds to the original environment of the real Yuanmingyuan," Shi said.

"It will be a multi-functional theme park," Shi said.

Shi said the park can serve as an educational base of patriotism.

"If visitors compare the magnificent park with the ruins of the Yuanmingyuan in Beijing, they will keep in mind the sufferings of our nation in modern history," Shi said.

The park will also be used as a movie and television set.

The group already has a development containing an imitation of the Forbidden City in Beijing, a Qin Dynasty (221-206BC) palace, and a prosperous Song Dynasty (960-1279) downtown street.

The development attracted 3.2 million visitors last year.

However, the project has aroused controversy.

Ruan Yisan, a history professor with Tongji University in Shanghai, said he could not see any point of rebuilding the Yuanmingyuan, as it has already been destroyed.

"The remaining ruins are a witness of history and serve as a good reminder of what happened," Ruan said.

"Therefore any attempt to rebuild the garden will only be an awkward imitation. Moreover, the real Yuanmingyuan was not built in just five or 10 years."

Ruan suggested the group could use the money to preserve sites that are in urgent need of protection.

According to Xinhua News Agency, China has 2,500 theme parks, with an investment of 150 billion yuan (US18.5 billion). Only 10 per cent of them turn a profit.

Editor: Donald

By: Guan Xiaofeng Source: China Daily Website
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