China's heritage sites 'not in danger'

By Wang Shanshan (China Daiy)
Updated: 2007-06-29 07:29

A cultural heritage official Thursday rejected some Chinese media reports that six of the country's World Heritage sites were considered being put on an endangered list.

The sites mentioned in the reports are: the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace in Beijing; the Potala Palace in Lhasa of the Tibet Autonomous Region; as well as the Three Parallel Rivers and the Old Town of Lijiang in Yunnan Province.

Roni Amelan, a press officer with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) headquarters in Paris, also said that reports about the six sites were "not correct" and that the purpose of the World Heritage in Danger list is to garner support for better conservation.

However, Guo Zhan, an official at the State Administration of Cultural Heritage and vice-chairman of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), told China Daily that an international team will be sent to the two sites in Yunnan to check their conservation status.

Members will come from the World Heritage Center of the UNESCO.

The decision was made by the UNESCO's World Heritage Committee during its annual convention in Christchurch, New Zealand on Wednesday.

The two sites in Yunnan are to be investigated because some committee members believe that the proposed dams, and mines being dug, near the Three Parallel Rivers (Nujiang, Lancang and Yangtze riviers) would jeopardize the site, and that Lijiang is being too commercialized, said Guo.

A report in Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post yesterday quoted a Chinese representative at the convention as saying that some delegates were dissatisfied with the ongoing facelift of the three sites in Beijing and about the landscape around the Potala.

It added that all the six sites will have to answer queries at the meeting, and if they fail to give satisfactory answers, they are likely to be put on the list of World Heritage in Danger.

An official at the Summer Palace administrative office, who did not want to be named, told China Daily that only traditional materials were used, and national standards followed, during the renovation of the Forbidden City.

An official at the Beijing Municipal Cultural Heritage Administration said that experts from the UNESCO committee inspected the three sites in the capital last month and praised their conservation status as "very good".

So it is "impossible" for the three sites to be put on the endangered list, he added.

Also at the New Zealand convention on Wednesday, the committee inscribed the Kaiping Diaolou and Villages on UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage List, and South China's Karst region of stone forests on the World Natural Heritage List. This brings the total of World Heritage sites in China to 35.

The Kaiping Diaolou and Villages feature multi-storied defensive village houses in Kaiping of Guangdong Province, which display a flamboyant fusion of Chinese, South Asian, Australian and North American architectural forms in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Top China News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours