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The National Cultural Heritage Administration, in a statement on Tuesday, sharply criticized a violent attack made last week on two archaeologists by urban patrol officers in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province.
"We neither saw them following basic regulations nor any convincing reason for them not to do so," the statement said of the officers.
Preservation of underground cultural relics is a duty of local governments under China"s Cultural Relic Protection Law, the administration said, but the enforcement action in this case was unreasonable.
Two archaeologists in Yangzhou were attacked and injured by urban patrol officers as they were conducting research on a historic site called Sangshujiao, which has been registered for real estate development.
According to the local government, the officers were patrolling the area and discovered that the wall around the site had been damaged and some tents had been pitched. The two male archaeologists failed to provide proof that they were authorized to be there, and the officers did not contact cultural relics departments for confirmation.
In the ensuing conflict, one archaeologist was struck in the abdomen and the other was beaten to the ground. They were told to leave the site without finishing their work, and their tents were removed, ThePaper.cn reported.
According to a statement by the Yangzhou government on Monday, the two officers involved, surnamed Hu and Lu, were detained by the local public security bureau, and another officer, surnamed Li, was fined. Guo Mingyong, Party secretary of Shouxihu subdistrict, where the patrollers were from, received a warning for incompetent leadership, and Wu Liang, the patrol team leader, also received a warning.
"The management committee involved will quickly restore the archaeological facilities to ensure that the work can continue as planned, and they will do their best to support and cooperate with the archaeology work as it progresses," the government said. "We will strictly abide by the laws on the protection of cultural relics and resolutely protect any relics excavated during construction."
In ancient times, Yangzhou boomed thanks to its location near the Grand Canal, an artery for water transportation since the Sui Dynasty (581-618). But the history of the city can be traced back to the 5th century BC.
Because of the historical importance of its abundant buried cultural artifacts, Yangzhou was placed on the country"s first list of cities of historical and cultural significance by the State Council in 1982.
The Sangshujiao site is located at the core of city remains from the Tang Dynasty (618-907). It is crucial to the study of Yangzhou"s urban development, said He Yun"ao, a history professor at Nanjing University.
He said the incident reflects an inherent conflict between urban construction and archaeology.
"Even though the Cultural Relic Protection Law demands that archaeological excavation must come before any major construction, it is sometimes not strictly followed," He said.
Many archaeological projects take longer than expected and have caused delays in construction.
"In the case in Yangzhou, archaeological work is not finished, but the area had been transferred for real estate development, which is what led to the conflict," He said.
Nevertheless, the professor thought the incident would provide a lesson for many other cities facing a similar situation.
"More coordination and better planning are needed to avoid such incidents in the future," he said.
In November, Nanjing, Jiangsu province, became the first Chinese city to release its city regulation on the protection of buried cultural relics ahead of urban construction. Under the rule, anyone who disturbs archaeology has legal responsibility. The regulation will take effect in March.
He, who is also a national-level political adviser, drafted a proposal during last year"s national congress of the Chinese People"s Political Consultative Conference calling for nationwide rules strictly safeguarding cultural heritage at designated construction sites.
"Attention to the incident in Yangzhou has also shown that the public"s awareness of protecting artifacts has risen in recent years thanks to the country"s emphasis on the issue," he said.24 hour wristbands.com charity bracelets uk cool wristbands silicone bracelets custom cheap black rubber bracelets