By Huang Zhiling in Chengdu
BEIJING, May 22(Xinhuanet) -- A school that had been rebuilt with financial aid from Hong Kong in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake was closed less than a year after it went into operation to make room for luxury buildings.
Responding to Internet outcry against the news, the Mianyang city government in Sichuan province said it was relocating the school to make it larger and better.
In a radio interview on May 18, Mak Chai-kwong, team leader of Sichuan reconstruction in the development bureau of the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, said the money would need to be repaid.
The Mianyang Bauhinia Ethnic Secondary School was built with HK$4 million ($515,000) donated from the Hong Kong government and Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers.
The old school land is now designated for the construction of Wanda Plaza, which consists of residential buildings and stores by the Dalian Wanda Group, based in Liaoning province, said Chen Wen, an official with the Mianyang government information office.
A spokeswoman for Hong Kong's development bureau said on Monday that officials of the bureau and the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers had visited Mianyang earlier this month for talks on how to deal with the situation after learning that the school was to make way for real estate projects in the area.
The Mianyang government did not comment on whether the money would need to be repaid.
Formerly known as the Mianyang Ethnic Junior High School, the building was badly damaged in the Wenchuan earthquake in May 2008.
With the money from Hong Kong, plus 2.56 million yuan ($405,000) from the Mianyang city government, the newly renamed Mianyang Bauhinia Ethnic Secondary School went into operation in late March 2010.
In January 2011, the adjacent western campus of the Mianyang Normal College was relocated. The school, which had rented the college's playgrounds and bathrooms, no longer had those facilities.
"In addition, the school campus was small. Both students and their parents hoped the school would be rebuilt at a new site," said Yao Ding, deputy chief of the city's bureau of education and sports.
After consulting representatives of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, departments in charge of education, planning and construction in Mianyang chose a site for the new school in the city's science and education park, Yao said.
With an investment of 70 million yuan, the new school is expected to be completed in August 2013.
About 30 million yuan of the investment will come from transferring the land of the old school and its buildings. The rest will come from the Mianyang government.
Once complete, the new school will be more than 15,434 square meters and accommodate 900 students.
The original school, with an area of 3,380 sq m, had room for 360 students.
(Source: China Daily)