China’s Forbidden City tightens security

The Beijing-based Palace Museum, better known as the Forbidden City, is upgrading its security system to better protect its relics and visitors.

Once the project is completed, security workers may instantly monitor, via screens, sites where an alarm is triggered and make correct judgment within seconds, said the museum’s newly appointed curator, Shan Jixiang.

“The Palace Museum must employ the world’s most advanced security facilities and technologies,” Shan was quoted as saying in a report posted on the website of China News Service on Wednesday.

In May 2011, several exhibition pieces on loan from a Hong Kong museum were stolen in the palace complex. The suspect, Shi Baikui, said during the trial that the theft was not planned, but happened “on the spur of the moment.” According to Shi, he was able to disrupt the alarm systems.

The incident sparked public concern over weaknesses in the Palace Museum’s security.

Shan said the museum’s management have long been aware that the initial alarm system has grown outdated and commenced a four-year-long upgrading project in November, 2009. By last December, about 60 percent of the total workload had been completed.

Shan also stressed the need for “first-rate management” alongside “first-rate facilities.”

He said, “Increased funding is necessary, and so is improved quality of museum staff. We should improve security levels and upgrade security procedures.”

In addition, the curator said the work will proceed under the principle of impacting visitors as little as possible.

Former director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, Shan, 57, was appointed director of the palace-turned museum in January, succeeding former director Zheng Xinmiao, who held the post from 2002.

Xinhua