Anhui tightens rules covering historic buildings
Anhui province will create "identity numbers" for local ancient buildings and ban the removal of ancient structures from the province.
A government statement released on Wednesday came days after kung fu film star Jackie Chan said he donated four ancient Anhui sandalwood houses to a Singaporean university.
Information on ancient buildings will be reserved in the province's archives, and the ancient buildings will get identity numbers for better protection, the Anhui Provincial Department of Housing and Urban-Rural Development told China News Service on Wednesday.
The government plans to complete the identification of local ancient buildings in four of its key cities by the end of this year, the department said.
Privately owned ancient structures are not allowed out of the province, and the government encouraged the public to "adopt" ancient buildings by donating money for their maintenance, the department said.
The announcement came after an online post from Chan, who earlier this month said he planned to donate four ancient houses to the Singapore University of Technology and Design.
On his verified micro blog, the movie star said that he bought 10 houses in Anhui province about 20 years ago for his parents to live in. But the houses were destroyed by termites after his parents died about 10 years ago.
Chan did not provide further details about the houses on his micro blog, but his friend Wang Pingjiu, a composer, said that Chan dismantled the houses, marked all the pieces of wood and sent the wood to Hong Kong years ago.
Chan preserved the wood in a warehouse in Hong Kong, and he made a large effort and spent a lot of money to protect the wood, Wang told Anhui Daily last week.
Chan's decision to donate the houses triggered an online outcry, with many netizens criticizing him for donating historic Chinese buildings to a foreign organization.
Chan said on Tuesday that he didn't realize the public would be so concerned about the donation, and he promised not to do anything to harm the nation.
Many netizens and architecture experts also pointed out that Chan's donation decision shows that many ancient buildings are not protected well in many domestic cities.
About 40,000 historic relics have disappeared in the past 30 years, and more than half of them were destroyed by new construction, according to statistics released in late 2011 by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.
The Anhui provincial government vowed on Monday to protect ancient buildings that are part of the province's main projects, including dangerous-house reconstruction, infrastructure construction and rural region regulation, according to a report in Anhui Daily.
Wan Yixue, deputy mayor of Huangshan in Anhui province, said in an open letter to Chan that he hopes the ancient buildings can be donated back to the Huangshan government.
"I guarantee that Chan's wish (to protect the ancient buildings) will be fulfilled," the deputy mayor said in the letter.
Liu Qingzhu, an archeologist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the government has showed a positive gesture to Chan, but the protection of ancient architecture remains a tough task.
The government will speed up the steps of urbanization in the following years, which imposed more pressure in the protection of rural ancient buildings, he said.
Ma Chenguang and Ji Beibei in Hefei contributed to this story.