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New World Heritage sites to be selected
By Xin Dingding (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-06-23 01:14

Heritage experts will move to select new sites for the World Heritage List.

Among the 50 cultural and historic sites nominated, China will have the capital cities and tombs of the ancient Koguryo Kingdom (1-5 century AD). The nominees will be considered at the upcoming 28th Session of the World Heritage Committee.

At present, China has 29 sites inscribed in the World Heritage List, ranking third behind Spain and Italy.

The classical gardens in Suzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province, were added to the list in 1997. Suzhou will host the coming session between June 28 and July 7.

"All preparation work is going on smoothly," said Zhang Xinsheng, vice-minister of Education and director of China National Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Nearly 500 representatives are registered to attend the 10-day-long session.

"Both the number of representatives and the span of the meeting have made records in the history of the World Heritage Committee sessions," he said.

Zhang, also chairman of the 28th session, said 27 topics will be discussed, including the hotly-debated Cairns Decision.

The Cairns Decision, adopted in 2000 by the committee, ruled the number of nominations to be submitted by each member state is limited to one each year.

Member countries have had opposite opinions on the decision, since some countries have no properties inscribed in the World Heritage List and others have a long list waiting to be examined.

"The committee requested the decision be reviewed this year to see if any amendment is necessary... and China will submit a proposal to be discussed at the session to see whether the limit can be amended," he said.

At present, more than 100 cultural and historic properties are in China's preparation list for the World Heritage.

"The historic monuments of Macao have been nominated to be examined next year at the 29th session," said Tian Xiaogang, secretary general of the China National Committee of UNESCO.

The historic monuments of Macao represent the oldest and richest European architectural legacy standing intact on Chinese territory today. They are a unique product of Sino-Western cultural interflow and assimilation over 400 years, experts said.

Regarding the capital cities and tombs of the ancient Koguryo Kingdom to be examined this year, Tian said experts have already made efforts to demonstrate the property is qualified.

"We are not sure about the committee's final decision, but we have confidence that the property can be included in the World Heritage List," Tian said.

Located in Ji'an of Northeast China's Jilin Province, the historic property includes Guonei City, Wandu Mountain City, King's tombs and Nobles' tombs.

Experts said both Guonei City and Wandu Mountain City, capitals of the early and middle Koguryo, are masterpieces of capital construction, while the ancient tombs are the epitome of Koguryo's high architectural and art achievements.

Tian said scientific research and statistics have shown the site is in line with all six criteria needed to be included in the list.

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