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Elevator at ancient site hits rock bottom
2006-10-10 00:11:18 Xinhua English

BEIJING, Oct. 10 -- An intermittent project to build an elevator near the ancient Sword Gate Pass on the famous Shu Path has finally been stopped although much damage has still been caused to the tourist destination.

The path used to be the only link between northern China and Sichuan, known as Shu in ancient times. Construction on the path began around 316 BC.

The elevator work, carried out on and off for more than 10 years, was aimed at making it easier for visitors to get up the mountain pass.

Now there is a barren slope the elevator's construction site about 20 metres high and 5 metres wide next to the green mountain.

"It looks like a wound," said Zhang Xianyu, a pensioner in Jian'ge County where the pass is located.

"The upper part of the 'wound' is narrow while its bottom is deep. The deepest part of the bottom surpasses 5 metres," he said.

A pile of rubble can be seen some 10 metres from the bottom of the 'wound." Rubble was blasted out to make way for the elevator, locals said.

The path was built on mountains so high that Li Bai (AD701-762), one of China's best-known poets, wrote in a poem: "Travelling on the Shu Path is as difficult as ascending to heaven."

After explosives blasted the slope for more than half a year, the project was halted following the intervention of the Guangyuan municipal government, said Wang Jianping, Party secretary of the Guangyuan Cultural Relics Administrative Office.

Jiange is a county under the administration of Guangyuan, a city known for the ancient Shu Path.

The path, 450 kilometres long, runs from Ningqiang County in northwestern China's Shaanxi Province to Zitong County in Sichuan.

One of the most famous sites on the path is the Sword Gate Pass. The household Chinese idiom Yifu Dangguan, Wanfu Mokai, "one man at the pass keeps 10,000 men at bay," comes from there, said Tan Jihe, director of the Sichuan Provincial Association of History.

The pass is still Sichuan's only land link to northern China. Because of its strategic importance, almost every ruler in northern China who wanted to conquer Sichuan had to take it first.

According to Guo Zisong from the Publicity Department of the Jian'ge County Party Committee, there were plans to build the elevator years ago.

Construction began in the mid-1990s but stopped almost immediately when a leading official from the provincial government passed by, he said.

In 2002, construction began again but after opposition from cultural relic experts and members of the Sichuan Provincial Political Consultative Conference, it was stopped again, Tan said.

This year, a real estate company from the Sichuan provincial capital of Chengdu created the 'wound," Wang said.

The backfiring of schemes to woo tourists is not uncommon, Tan said.

He cited the Guangzhou Daily as saying that the Yulong Snow Mountain in southwestern China's Yunnan Province was covered with snow all year round.

But after primitive forests were cut down to make way for a cable car and an influx of tourists, the mountain had no snow in the summer or autumn, the report said.

(Source: China Daily)

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