Historic structures in ancient town rebuilt without permission

Wang Qingchu
Houses from the Ming and Qing dynasties in an ancient town in Gansu Province have been rebuilt without authorization from cultural protection authorities, the report said.
Wang Qingchu
Historic structures in ancient town rebuilt without permission

Tianshui Ancient Town in Gansu Province as seen in July 2023

A century-old historic town in northwest China's Gansu Province has been found to have been turned into commercial streets packed with restaurants, eateries and shops with drastically altered structures, despite a more-than-888-million-yuan (US$123 million) investment to preserve the ancient structures.

Tianshui Ancient Town, in Tianshui City, used to be home to clusters of houses from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, but these houses and courtyards have been rebuilt without the authorization of cultural protection authorities, and their business scope changed without appropriate assessment, China Central Television reported on August 19.

The Tianshui government invested 888 million yuan from 2015 to 2021 to save the ancient town, which housed at least 29 structures that were protected as cultural relics. Only three of those are open to the public for free while the remainder have been turned into commercial venues.

For example, an ancient building was turned into a Japanese restaurant even after repeated warnings from Huang Guoxiang, an expert on restoring old houses, the report said.

A fingerprint-operated clock-in machine was nailed to an ancient post and steel structures had been added to the courtyards, the report has found.

The illegal renovations have also brought significant fire hazards as many restaurants use open fire cooking, which is strictly banned in historic and cultural relics.

The Tianshui government has vowed to correct these problems following the report and launched a new round of inspections.

Special Reports