A vice-mayor of Beijing has promised to save from demolition the former home of Cai Yuanpei, one of the most famous reformers in the early years of the Chinese Republic and renowned for organising protests against the Versailles Treaty of 1919 that humiliated China. The Beijing Morning News yesterday quoted Wang Guangtao as saying the home would remain on its current site, off Dongdan Street, one of the busiest commercial streets in Beijing. 'It could be restored and turned into a site for patriotic education,' he said. The house had been designated a listed building in 1986. Earlier this year, however, a property developer started a road building project that involved demolishing the home. In November, the company paid four million yuan (HK$3.76 million) to 10 families living in the neighbourhood, including those in Cai Yuanpei's house, to get them to move. The Beijing Youth Daily brought the issue to public attention on December 3 by printing a picture of the home with the character 'demolish' painted on its wall. It provoked a storm of criticism from scholars and intellectuals. Cai lived in the house between 1917 and 1919 when he was president of Beijing University. His house is famous for what happened there in 1919. On May 3, Cai learned that the government had sent a secret message to its representatives in Versailles, ordering them to sign the peace treaty ending World War I on terms unfavourable to China. Enraged at this humiliation to his country, Cai invited students from his university to his house and explained the situation to them. After a night of debate, they took to the streets the next day in protests which became known as the May 4 Movement.