World Bank Support China to Conserve Cultural Heritage, Improve Water Environment and Expand Railway Network

WASHINGTON, DC May 24, 2011 - Today the World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved three loans totaling US$330 million to the People’s Republic of China to support cultural heritage conservation in Shandong, improvement of water environment in Inner Mongolia and expansion of the railway network in northeast China.

The Shandong Confucius and Mencius Culture Heritage Conservation and Development Project, financed by a loan of US$50 million, will provide support to Qufu and Zoucheng, the hometowns of Confucius and Mencius, two great thinkers of ancient China. The project is designed to help the two historic cities improve cultural heritage conservation and tourism management so as to contribute to the local economy and people’s welfare. The project will focus on conservation of cultural heritage assets, historic city regeneration and infrastructure upgrading in the cities. The cultural heritage assets in the two cities include temples, mansions, cemeteries, ancient buildings, courtyards, watchtowers, gates, archways, stele pavilions, stone tablets, inscriptions and ancient trees. In addition to urban redevelopment, the city moat and Gupan Pond in Qufu will be rehabilitated through restoration of the old water system and diversion of water from the Si River, and the Mencius primary school and the Yinli River in Zoucheng will be rebuilt or rehabilitated. Local residents will be encouraged to participate in heritage conservation and sustainable tourism development through awareness raising and income generating activities. Training and support will be provided on heritage-related small business development and design of marketable products.

The Bayannaoer Water Comprehensive Environment Management Project, financed by a World Bank loan of US$80 million, will focus on efforts to better utilize the water resources and improve the water environment. Bayannaoer Municipality in west Inner Mongolia has an economy heavily dependent on agriculture. Water drawn from the Yellow River is mostly used for agricultural irrigation. In recent years, Bayannaoer has also started developing some local industries, mainly in food and mining processing. The new project will invest in water reclamation and distribution facilities to meet the increasing water demand by industries with reclaimed water from agricultural drainage and domestic wastewater. The project will also finance construction of new wastewater treatment plants and distribution networks for recycled water. Another component of the project is to reduce pollution of the Wuliangsuhai, a major freshwater lake in North China, through establishment of wetlands to contribute to natural reduction of pollutants from point and non-point sources entering the Lake, construction of canals to improve the water circulation, and a pilot of non-point control measures to support a long-term government program on optimized application of chemical fertilizers to reduce nutrient discharge.

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