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China To Build Museum for Relics

November 30, 2000

BEIJING (AP) _ China plans to spend $60 million on a new museum to house a treasure trove of relics being saved from the giant Three Gorges Dam, state media said Thursday.

Archeologists are rushing to rescue relics from the area before the dam’s reservoir fills up. They have already collected more than 10,000 artifacts and expect to gather a total of around 300,000 by the time the dam is finished in 2009, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The dam, said to be the world’s largest hydroelectric project, has been opposed by environmentalists, scientists and archeologists as an expensive, ecologically damaging mistake with irreparable consequences for China’s cultural heritage. But the government says the dam will curb flooding and produce clean power needed for economic growth.

Its reservoir will begin filling in little more than two years. Eventually reaching a height of 580 feet, it will inundate 244 square miles of land, towns and villages, displacing at least 1.1 million people.

The area, along the Yangtze River in central China, is rich in sites of cultural and historical interest. In 1992, Chinese archeologists formulated a plan to preserve 1,087 cultural sites in the Three Gorges, relocating some if need be, at an estimated cost of $120 million, state media have said.

Xinhua said the planned museum would adopt ``the latest techniques″ to house relics. Construction will begin next year and finish in 2003, said Liu Yuchuan, a relics official in southwest Chongqing city, at the head of the planned reservoir.

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