Third Session
10th National People's Congress and
Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference

NPC Deputy Proposes Law on World Heritage Protection

A deputy to the National People's Congress has said China needs to enact a special law on the protection of World Cultural Heritage sites designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The law will facilitate improved protection and management of world heritage sites, through timely communication with UNESCO, more rational fund management and reduction of environmental pollution and human factors that are detrimental to the country's heritage sites, said Li Mingtao, chief architect with Beijing Architectural Design Institute, in his proposal submitted to the ongoing annual parliament session on Saturday.
"On the other hand, it'll help balance tourism with heritage protection," Li said at panel discussion of the Beijing delegation.
With about 30 world heritage sites, Chins has become the world's third nation in term of the number of heritage sites. "But some of these sites are not being preserved properly by the local government as a result of poor management or excessive exploitation for commercial purposes," he said.
In January 2003, the picturesque Wudang Mountain in central China's Hubei Province, which was declared a World Heritage site in 1994, saw its 600-year-old Yuzhengong Palace burnt to ashes in a fire caused by a careless employee of a martial arts school, which illicitly rented the palace from the local cultural relics department.
Last October, a section of the ancient city wall of Pingyao in north China's Shanxi Province collapsed. Repair work on the wall, which was rebuilt in 1370 on the basis of an old one and is a landmark of the ancient Pingyao city, is still going on, said Li.
Meanwhile, overexploitation of tourism resources and other human activities have also impaired the natural beauty of many heritage sites, including Leshan city in southwest China's Sichuan Province, home to the world's largest sitting Buddha statue, and the ancient river-side town of Zhouzhuang in east China's Jiangsu Province, neighboring Shanghai, according to Li.
"It's a crucial task for us to make a law so that all these world heritage sites can be protected within a legal framework," said Li, adding China's current law on cultural heritage protection and regulations on natural preservation zones have not fully covered the UNESCO inscribed heritage sites.

(Xinhua News Agency March 13, 2005)


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