The Beijing-based Renmin University Press has been compensated 50 million yuan (HK$64 million) for moving out of a Ming dynasty temple after 10 years of negotiation, the Beijing News reported on Monday.
The city-protected Nianhua Temple will be vacated by the end of the month for repairs and will then be returned to a place of worship.
In the sixty years the press has occupied the Buddhist temple it has never undergone restoration, despite a fire and building collapse. Due to the level of damage and safety concerns, the Beijing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage unsuccessfully applied to the courts to force the press to make repairs twice between 2007 and 2011.
China Renmin University Press was founded in 1955 as the first university press in China. The press first occupied the city’s larger Yonghe Temple and used it as a factory. It then moved to Nianhua Temple in the 1960s and destroyed its main hall.
Pictures of the temple show the eaves of the hall nearest the entrance slope downwards and are supported by just four pieces of timber nailed together with planks of wood. Many roof tiles are broken and covered with weeds, and the red paint on the walls is marked with white lines from the rain, while the red paint of the pillars is peeling off. Quilts and clothes dry on a cord nailed directly into the wall and wires hang above.
The Beijing Buddhist Association and the press had been negotiating the latter’s vacation for more than ten years and the compensation rose from 30 million yuan to 50 million yuan during that time due to rising costs.
The two sides finally came to an agreement in August last year and the press was given until February to vacate.
Lama Hu Xuefeng, vice-president of the Beijing Buddhist Association, told the newspaper the main hall would be rebuilt according to its original design - its base is still intact - and the other halls would be restored.