Prince Charles has launched a campaign to save a historic district in China’s Beijing from destruction.

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In addition to refusing to attend this summer Olympic Games in the city, the prince is determined to save the pre-Communist buildings in Da Shi Lan, near Tiananmen Square, which face being bulldozed to make way for new high-rise tower blocks.

Charles, who has never been to China, is asking leaders in China to consider building the new properties in the same style as the remaining traditional hutongs, which he also wants to preserve.

A spokesman for the prince said: “Through his links with China the prince learned about the hutong housing being lost amid all this rapid development and he has offered his foundation’s help.

“It is not about criticising Chinese development per se, just about ensuring vulnerable heritage is not lost.”

Thanks to Charles’ recommendation, which stemmed from a meeting with Chinese businessmen at his London residence Clarence House last year, designers at the prince’s Foundation for Architecture and Urbanism are working with academics at Tsing Hua University in Beijing to come up with a solution.

The team have met with local town planners to look at ways of reducing overcrowding and building new environmentally friendly houses.

Hank Dittmar, the chief executive of the prince’s foundation, said: “China is being sold the hi-tech model of development and we think there is a model with which works with the local character of Chinese planning to achieve sustainability. We want them to consider that too.”