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Lights project defended

OFFICIALS in a mountainous county in northwest China have defended the local government's 2.1-million-yuan (US$307,200) "moonlight town" project, describing it as environmentally friendly and economically efficient.

Fengxian County of Shaanxi Province's Baoji City has installed more than 3,300 lights on four mountains around the county so that they look like twinkling stars, and a 5-square-meter LED board that looks like the moon. But the project has provoked public criticism with people saying it is just window dressing by the local government.

A tourism official told China News Agency that the lighting project, which uses solar power, was environmentally friendly and efficient.

It was also cheap compared to traditional technology, which could have cost 4.7 million yuan, he said.

With this green technology, 200,000 yuan could be saved in electricity costs in three years, he added.

The lighting project has generated funds worth 10 times its cost, Fengxian's director Li Zhiyuan said in earlier media reports.

The project is part of the local government's 650-million-yuan program to boost local tourism. The county needed economic restructuring to alleviate its reliance on the mining industry, he said.

Tourism now accounts for a quarter of the local economy, he said, and officials from more than 80 counties across the country had visited Fengxian to learn from its success.


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