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Historic villa plan provokes anger

A PLAN to raise money for the maintenance of a historic villa by leasing it out to a private club has sparked controversy in Nanjing, the capital of east China's Jiangsu Province.

Jinling Holdings Co, manager of the villa in the city's east suburb proposed the leasing plan on May 27, today's Oriental Morning Post reported.

The villa, which used to be the residence of China's former statesman Chiang Kai-shek from 1928 to 1949 and his wife Soong May-ling, was listed as a national historic heritage site in 2001.

The Jinling hotel group said it was difficult to fund the 200,000-yuan (US$29,255.2) annual cost to maintain the villa with just the income from admission tickets.

It also had to pay its 39 employees, said group official Lu Dan.

To raise money, it had to stop opening it to the public and lease it to a private club, he said.

Architecture professor Liu Xianjue with the Nanjing-based Southeast University strongly opposed the plan which he described as illegal. He said all the experts invited to the meeting were angry at the proposal.

He suggested the hotel group return management of the villa to the Zhongshan Mountain National Park, where the villa was located.

Professor Gu Jiang with Nanjing University's school of economics echoed Liu. He said leasing the villa was making a private entertainment for the wealthy out of a public resource.

In Hangzhou, the capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, public concern has been aroused over the increasing number of private clubs around the picturesque West Lake.

Around 40 private clubs have mushroomed along the lakeside in the past five years. The clubs charge high prices and have been accused of denying ordinary people views of the lake.


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