Chinese Minister rails: renovation projects damage similar to cultural revolution

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China has become the land of 1,000 identical cities, a senior government official has warned in an outspoken attack on the country's rush towards modernity.

Qiu Baoxing, the vice-minister of construction, said the damage to the country's heritage was similar to that wrought during the cultural revolution of 1966-76.

In the early stages of that period, Red Guards ransacked temples and burned ancient scripts in the name of revolutionary politics. Today, the damage is more likely to be done by urban developers in the name of economic progress.

Historical sites and cultural relics have been devastated by "renovation" projects, Mr Qiu was quoted as saying by the China Daily. In an unusually fierce criticism of the architectural landscape of modern China, the vice-minister said that too many local governments were guilty of a "blind pursuit of the large, the new and the exotic".

"This is leading to a poor sight," he said. "Many cities have a similar construction style. It is like a thousand cities having the same appearance." He said such "senseless actions" were the fault of local officials, who were "totally unaware of the value of cultural heritage".

His comments underscore concerns that China, one of the world's oldest civilisations, is paying too high a price for its economic expansion.

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