Demolition begins in Beijing preservation district

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BEIJING -- The demolition of a supposedly protected section of Beijing's old city began this week, triggering renewed outrage over the demise of the Chinese capital's historic courtyards and alleyways.

The homes in Beijing's Dongsi Batiao are being razed to make way for a new residential development, crystallising the plight of the narrow maze-like alleys known as hutongs that once dominated the ancient city centre.

State media have seized on the destruction of the site, in an officially protected cultural preservation district, as an example of official failure to protect hutongs from an ongoing property boom.

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