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Beijing to Start Facelift to Honor 2008 Olympics

BEIJING, September 8 -- Beijing will soon kick off a large-scale urban facelift project, which is designed to protect ancient relics while improving the local residents' living environment, a senior relic protection official told the press here Friday.

"The renovation of the old city area, where relic sites are concentrated, will involve the relocation of hundreds of households and units," said Mei Ninghua, director of the Beijing Cultural Relics Bureau.

He said that the project is no smaller than the construction of the state-of-the-art stadiums designed for the 2008 Olympics.

The old city area refers to blocks to the north and south of the Imperial Palace, or the Forbidden City, which lies in the center of Beijing.

Within the designed area, there are 60 state-designated relic sites and 235 city-designated relic sites, which will be opened for tourists before 2008, Mei said.

He said that it will take seven years to make Beijing a modern city with an ancient flavor.

"Beijing will properly carry out the relic protection and urban construction in order to meet the goal of combining modern and ancient styles for its urban planning," he added.

-- source: Xinhua News Agency

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