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Protection List for Oral And Intangible Heritage Proposed

An elite cultural relics expert suggested here at the ongoing 28th session of the World Heritage Committee that China should initiate a special protection list for the country's oral and intangible heritage.

"This move is aimed at saving various endangered traditional techniques and folk craftworks and arts," said Luo Zhewen, president of the Chinese Cultural Relics Society, while stressing the importance of doing a good job in applying to put masterpieces of oral and intangible heritage on the list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

As a well-known expert on China's ancient architecture, Luo worried much about the loss of ancient construction techniques.

China boasts many unique technologies and craftsmanship in maintaining and preserving ancient buildings. For example, workers can successfully replace decayed wooden girders and columns without moving other parts of the building.

"Some top technologies, like the making of golden bricks and glazed tiles, are fading away since few people today can grasp them successfully," he said.

The fading and loss of oral and intangible heritage are sometimes imperceptible, and people usually tend to ignore the craftsmanship and technologies behind fine craftworks, according to Luo.

"The technologies will also die when the craftsmen leave the world if the arts and techniques in their minds were not successfully passed to the offspring," said Luo.

China is making active efforts in heritage protection and has made great progress in dealing with its cultural and natural heritage, UNESCO World Heritage Center Director Francesco Bandarin said earlier.

China signed the convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage in 1985. By July 2003, China had 29 heritage sites on the World Heritage List, following Spain and Italy.

But with China's booming economy and urban development, many parts of China's historical cities were not well respected and maintained, a problem not unique with China in the conservation of historical cities.

He suggested China introduce the successful experience of the European and Latin American countries and work together with international partners.
(Xinhua News Agency July 3, 2004)

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