Beijing's Palace Museum has responded to online speculation about its new barriers, saying that the marble replacements for the old metal railings are "more suitable" given the surrounding architecture.

Two weeks ago, the metal railings which had protected relics near the Palace Museum's Palace of Benevolent Peace and Gate of Celestial Purity were replaced by new white marble barriers.

The choice of new barriers sparked some discussion online, with netizens speculating as to why museum management had chosen to install ones that are similar to ancient railings in other parts of the Palace, also known as the Forbidden City.

The speculation began when Sina Weibo users argued online that "The new railings give the impression to the public that they are also relics. This has damaged the Palace Museum's architecture."

Another Weibo user told the Beijing Youth Daily that "the Palace should not have laid out a plan that affects the original relics."

Others users argued that the new marble installations seem to be more suitable in style. "It looks good and prominent. People would notice them better," user "nqdqg" posted.

In response to this speculation the Palace Museum released a notice Sunday which said that the replacement barriers aim to "protect the relic more properly" and their "solemnity matches the palace's atmosphere."

Much of the palace complex, built during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1912) dynasties, uses white marble as a construction material.

"A number of visitors touch the relics, especially the gilded ones. The metal railings were insufficient to protect them," it added.

The museum authorities did not explain why marble barriers are better at protecting relics than their metal counterparts.