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China launches investigation against luxurious clubs in protected cultural heritages

06-03-2011 14:27 BJT

BEIJING, June 3 (Xinhua) -- China has launched a nationwide investigation of illegal luxury clubs run by public museums and other cultural heritage institutions, following public concerns over an exclusive club for wealthy people in the Forbidden City.

Dong Baohua, deputy director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, said Friday that the administration has ordered local cultural heritage protection authorities to investigate any possible cases and report their findings next Tuesday.

The senior official vowed harsh punishments for those who are found to be breaching laws and regulations by using public facilities to conduct business operations.

The investigation will also target business operations that are not intended for public welfare purposes or that endanger cultural relics, according to a notice issued by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

The public voiced fierce criticism after the discovery of an exclusive club in the Forbidden City's Jianfu Palace, where memberships are reported to cost 1 million yuan (153,846 U.S. dollars).

However, the inappropriate use of cultural relics does not seem to be confined to the Forbidden City.

The management of a high-end hotel under construction in the world's largest imperial garden, the Imperial Summer Resort (Summer Mountain Villa) in the city of Chengde in north China's Hebei Province, had attempted to turn the garden into an exclusive club with membership fees of 200,000 yuan.

Their attempts were shot down by the cultural bureau of cultural heritage last month.

Lang Junshan, head of the bureau, said the hotel was meant to receive tourists and must be open to the public.

The villa residence of Soong May-ling (wife of Chiang Kai-shek, the late leader of China's Nationalist Party) in Nanjing, which was listed as a historical and cultural site under state protection in 2001, has reportedly been turned into a high-end restaurant for the purpose of hosting wedding banquets.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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