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Centre to protect historical heritage
By Lin Qi (Agencies)
Updated: 2004-12-31 00:15

More advanced theories and international criteria will be introduced into the protection of historical heritage, as the Research Centre for World Cultural Heritage in China was founded this Wednesday in Beijing.

Located in the Beijing University of Technology, the research centre is the first of its kind in China and has gained support from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) among its other eight counterparts, according to Professor Dai Jian, the executive president of the research centre.

"Our further study will focus on how to adopt UNESCO's guidance and standards to the evacuation, protection and management of heritage sites around China.

"The research centre will especially push forward its study on preservation technologies, by making full use of resources of the Beijing University of Technology." Dai said.

In the past few years, the university has accomplished research on preserving and renovating historical sites in Beijing, under UNESCO's instructions.

"Our practice has brought us abundant experiences, and also a group of outstanding professionals, which are of great importance to the research centre," said Dai, who is also the deputy director of the School of Architecture and Urban Planning of the university.

The research centre covers the evaluation and planning of cultural heritage, popularizes preservation knowledge, and carries out training projects for professionals in heritage protection as well as international exchanges.

China had 30 world heritage sites, which made it No 1 and No 3in Asia and the world respectively, ever since the government ratified the World Heritage Convention in 1985.

And that number has increased to 32 after two items, Kunqu opera and the art of Guqin music, were admitted into the list of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity in 2001 and 2003.

Yet China still faces a serious problem in world heritage protection work, which is threatened by factors such as urbanization, population growth, environmental exacerbation and disordered management, as experts pointed out.

These are also common problems for other countries with world heritage sites.

"China has done a lot in preserving its world heritage, and achieved obvious progress in the last two decades," said Professor Azedine Beschaouch, the president of the centre and the former president of the World Heritage Committee.

China is expected to set a good example in the protection field, especially for the third world, who are trying to balance economic development and heritage preservation, Beschaouch said.

He also said that not just the heritage sites should be well preserved, but that their surroundings need to be taken into consideration.

It is more comfortable to appreciate a green garden than just a single flower surrounded by high buildings and mansions. Historical heritage is able to coexist with modern civilization in harmony, Beschaouch said.

His advice on heritage protection has greatly inspired his colleague Dai Jian.

"Our research centre is still at its beginning stage. We are aiming at establishing the first research centre for world cultural heritage affiliated to UNESCO in Asia in the next five to 10 years." Dai said.

UNESCO owns three such research centres in France, Italy and Belgium. Yet there isn't one in Asiawhich contains a large number of world heritage sites, Daisaid.

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