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China, Japan Cooperate in Silk Road Protection
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China and Japan are to cooperate in the training of 100 specialists in cultural heritage protection, particularly along the Silk Road, over the next five years.

The State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) of China and the Foundation for Cultural Heritage and Art Research, a Japanese non-governmental organization, signed an agreement on Monday.

According to the agreement, the Japanese NGO will invest 150 million Japanese yen (about US$1.28 million) in the project.

"The special training program for protecting the Silk Road is the first of its kind in China, and will be carried out by state-level research institutes of the two countries," said Zhang Tinghao, head of China Cultural Relics Research Institute.

Personnel from cultural heritage protection organizations working on projects along the Silk Road in Xinjiang, Qinghai, Ningxia, Gansu, Shaanxi and Henan, especially young and middle-aged specialists, will be chosen to join the project.

The training will include cultural heritage protection theory, laboratory training, and field teaching in the protection of earth relics, ancient buildings, archaeological sites, pottery and porcelain, metal objects, murals, textiles and paper relics.

The Silk Road, which started in the ancient Chinese metropolis Chang'an, known today as Xi'an, ended in Rome. It traversed 6,440 kilometers through China and central Asia and became the nexus between different civilizations in ancient Europe and Asia.

However, the continued existence of the cultural heritage along the ancient route is under threat of natural and human factors.

SACH has announced that it is joining hands with other countries to apply for the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to include the Silk Road on the World Heritage List.

"The Sino-Japanese training project is aimed at upgrading the expertise of the cultural heritage specialists along the Silk Road and giving better protection to the cultural heritage along the Silk Road," said Hou Jukun, an official with SACH.

(Xinhua News Agency February 28, 2006)

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