Controversial video clips about residential construction work atop the allegedly imperial city of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) in east China's Zhejiang Province have recently caused a stir on the Internet.
Located in Hangzhou's city center, the construction site on the bank of the famous West Lake covers an area of 2.1 hectares.
The videos show cultural relics, including ancient pieces of floor tiles and pillars, unearthed by the Luchengxizi Real Estate Company on the construction site in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province.
Since surfacing, the clips have sparked an outcry for the preservation of historic sites.
"The West Lake in Hangzhou plans to apply for World Heritage status. Since the imperial city of the Southern Song Dynasty is a symbol of Hangzhou's historical culture, the destructive development will destroy the city's image," said a netizen on Sohu, one of China's major web portals.
"Cultural heritage is a kind of unrenewable resource. I hope the government will pay more attention to the preservation of threatened historical relics during the process of urbanization," said another netizen named "Jing Huisheng" on www.ifeng.com.
Some local culture experts and researchers believe that the residential building work is based on the hub of the imperial city of the Southern Song Dynasty.
"The imperial city site is buried just 3 to 4 meters below ground surface," said Zhou Fuduo, a professor with Zhejiang University. "But the foundation of the construction work by the real estate company has gone more than 10 meters deep."
However, the company denied that they have planned new residential buildings on historical sites.
"We have no idea about ancient imperial city sites. When we bought the land for construction, nobody informed us that it was based on historical relics," said Wang Xiaochun, project manager of the Luchengxizi Real Estate Company.
Like the real estate company, not everyone is convinced that the construction site is atop the imperial city site.
It is still controversial whether this area is included in the ancient imperial city sites, according to Tong Guoliang, deputy director of the local landscape management committee.
"After more than two decades of archaeological work, it is clear that the construction work is not located on the imperial city sites of the Southern Song Dynasty," said Tang Junjie, a researcher from the Hangzhou Municipal Institute of Archaeology.
The municipal government suspended the real estate company's construction work until confirming that there is a lack of evidence to support the theory that the construction is based atop the ancient imperial city sites.
Further research is underway to identify the true scale of the imperial city sites of the Southern Song Dynasty.
The imperial city site of the Southern Song Dynasty was selected as an important heritage site under state protection by the State Council in 2001.