01/03/2012, 00.00
CHINA
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Economic development destroying Chinese history

China’s first heritage census shows that 44,000 historically significant sites have been destroyed in the name of development. About a quarter of what is left is in a poor state of repair.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – In the name of economic progress and land use, China has lost at least 44,000 ruins, temples and other cultural sites since the advent of Mao’s People’s Republic, this according to the mainland's first heritage census in more than 20 years. About a quarter of the sites that remain are in a state of disrepair.

The census, carried out by China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage, surveyed 700,000 heritage sites.

Liu Xiaohe, deputy director of the survey, told state media that economic development was the most important reason for the damage to cultural relics.

In the worst affected region, Shaanxi province, which is the home to the terracotta warriors, data show that more than 3,500 cultural sites have vanished. However, no specific buildings or monuments were named in the census.

Even the iconic Great Wall of China is under threat, not only from natural erosion, but also from unfettered development and the lack of conservation rules and laws.

Two years ago, a Qin Dynasty-art of the Great Wall was said to have been damaged by miners who knocked holes in it whilst prospecting for gold.

China’s Cultural Revolution (1967-1977) also played a major role in the destruction of the country’s artistic and cultural heritage when, in the name of Maoist values, hundreds of churches, mosques and Buddhist temples were destroyed or damaged.
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