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
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,
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.