Illegally demolished building to be rebuilt

Updated: 2013-07-07 18:01

By Qiu Quanlin in Guangzhou (

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A local real estate developer was ordered to rebuild a historical building after it was illegally demolished in June, prompting concerns over the protection of historical and cultural relics amid the fast-moving urbanization drive.

Guangzhou Cuihua Real Estate Co was found to have illegally demolished the building on June 11, according to an investigation report issued on Friday.

The historical building was built in the 1940s in the downtown district of Yuexiu in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province.

The two-and-a-half-story building, with a construction area of 582 square meters, was the residence of the famous Cantonese opera performer Xue Juexian.

The developer will also face charges for causing losses to four joint owners of the building. Only one owner out of the building’s five joint owners had signed compensation agreements with the developer before the building was demolished, according to the report.

"We’ll launch a further investigation into the developer’s qualification for commercial developments," said Gong Haijie, a deputy secretary-general of the city government, who led the investigation after Guangzhou Mayor Chen Jianhua ordered a thorough review of the case.

According to Gong, the developer had been told by the city’s urban planning and land resource authorities to postpone construction of a commercial project at the site as cultural experts had identified its historical value.

"The developer violated land-use laws and damaged the owners’ rights," Gong said.

Li Ming, director of the Guangzhou Urban Planning Bureau, said there are currently 26 historical buildings involved in commercial development projects. "We have joined hands with the relevant departments to introduce urgent measures to protect these historical sites," said Li.

According to Li, authorities in Guangzhou have launched a citywide survey on historical buildings and have introduced protection measures.

"Key commercial development projects will be particularly targeted in the survey. Developers will be severely punished if they are found to have destroyed historical buildings," Li said.

In a separate case, a metro constructor was fined 500,000 yuan ($81,500) for destroying five tombs in the city’s Luogang district, officials said on Friday.

The tombs, which date back to a period before the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), are valuable for the archaeological study and research of the city’s ancient history, said Lu Zhiqiang, director of the Guangzhou Culture, Radio, Television, News and Publications Bureau.

An investigation into the case has also been launched, indicating that the developer, the metro company and the local cultural authority will be held accountable.

Several managers with the developer, China Railway Erju Co, will see their cases transferred to local judicial authorities for further investigations, said Chen Shaokang, also a deputy secretary-general of the Guangzhou government.

The tombs, located near the district’s Dagong Mountain, were bulldozed overnight on June 14, with some artifacts destroyed or damaged, according to Chen.

"Illegal construction, poor supervision from the metro company and lack of efficient protection measures from the cultural authority have led to the destruction of the tombs," Chen told a news conference on Friday.

The illegal demolitions of the historical building and the tombs have sparked public outcry over the protection of historical sites as the city is witnessing rapid urban expansion and renovation projects after it hosted the 2010 Asian Games.

Yuan Qifeng, a professor at Sun Yat-sen University, said that the demolition means the gradual extinction of Guangzhou’s history and culture.