- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 7, 2004

BEIJING (Agence France-Presse) — Authorities plan to shift more than 170,000 people residing inside the ancient city walls of former capital Xian to better protect its heritage, state media reported last week.

The plan, though, could prove controversial.

When authorities tried to move people from their homes in the popular tourist destination earlier this year, clashes broke out and at least three persons were seriously injured.

At the time, residents accused the government of employing thugs to force them out so it could sell the land to property developers.

Lin Lize, with the Xian Municipal Urban Planning and Development Office, told Xinhua news agency that the residents would be removed gradually during the next 15 years. New districts would be built outside the city wall, “improving residents’ living conditions,” he said.

“Our plan for the future development of Xian aims to make the city an international modern metropolis featuring both ancient culture and modern civilization,” Mr. Lin said.

“And the most important task for us is to properly protect the ancient district inside.”

Xian was once the world’s most thriving metropolis and served intermittently as the capital of 11 dynasties for 1,068 years from the Western Zhou Dynasty (1,100 B.C. to 771 B.C.) onward.

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