Controversial replica to open next year

Xinhua
A controversial replica of the Old Summer Palace will be fully open to public in July 2019, the project's main investor Xu Wenrong said.
Xinhua

A controversial replica of the Old Summer Palace will be fully open to public in July 2019, the project’s main investor Xu Wenrong said.

Covering more than 460 hectares, the replica is located in Hengdian Township, in east China’s Zhejiang Province, some 1,000 kilometers from the Beijing landmark. The replica, which partly opened in 2015, cost an estimated 30 billion yuan (US$4.6 billion).

“When I first visited the Old Summer Palace, I felt pain on seeing the broken walls, and I decided to make a replica,” said Xu, the retired chairman of Hengdian Group. Construction is almost finished after five years, and 84 percent of the real palace has been replicated.

The project courted huge controversy when it was announced in 2012, with many accusing it of bastardizing a site associated with patriotism.

The Old Summer Palace management said “a full-size replica is neither possible nor tolerable.” The original complex “is unique and cannot be replicated. The construction and development of the site should be planned by national organizations, and any replication of it should reach certain standards,” the palace’s administrative office said in 2015.

The Old Summer Palace, a complex of pavilions and gardens built for Qing Dynasty emperors, is regarded as a symbol of China’s historical humiliation at the hands foreign powers. It was ransacked by British and French troops in 1860, and again by an allied force in 1900.


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