'Destroying the real and building the fake'

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has struck out on an issue close to the hearts of many of China's citizens -- rampant destruction of property and the nation's cultural heritage.

The Beijing News reported that Wen, a popular leader often described as a moderate among more conservatives running the country, struck out at thoughtless development, a pattern that has repeated itself across China in recent years. Developers tear down entire neighborhoods and sometimes almost whole cities, eliminating historic and architectural landmarks in the process. Over-development has become a source of protests and and social upheaval in many places in China, where forced relocation has been named a primary cause of social unrest.

Wen's is a rare official critique of the powerful property development machine.

"No one is paying attention to the legal rights of farmers in some places, and they are forcefully destroying homes and moving them out," Wen said, according to a translation from AFP of the Beijing News report on a meeting in Beijing to discuss preservation of historic and cultural relics. "We are destroying the real and building up the fake."

"A lot of our tangible cultural heritage has been torn down and destroyed, and then a lot of money is spent on building these phony things," Wen added.