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Sites off Heritage 'Endangered' List

Two sites were removed from the Endangered World Heritage List on Sunday, insiders said.

The 28th Session of the World Heritage Committee evaluated the status of 35 endangered sites, deciding to remove Angkor of Cambodia and Bahla Fort of Oman from the "in danger" list after more than a decade of renovation efforts.

China assisted in the protection of Angkor by taking on the renovation work project of Chao Say Thevoda of Angkor Wat, that was initiated by UNESCO at the invitation of the Cambodian Government.

The evaluation on 121 heritage sites started yesterday evening, officials said.

The status of five sites in China will be discussed today.

They included the Imperial Palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties in Beijing, the Classical Gardens of Suzhou in East China's Jiangsu Province, the Potala Palace in Lhasa of the Tibet Autonomous Region, the ancient building complex in the Wudang Mountains in Hubei Province, and the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas in Yunnan Province, according to a report in the Shanghai-based Jiefang Daily.

Jiang Renjie, the vice-mayor of Suzhou, told China Daily the World Heritage Committee is concerned about the heritage in Suzhou because of the new Suzhou Museum's location.

The city has planned to build a new museum near Zhuozheng Garden, one of the finest classical gardens of the city. But experts worry that the construction project is too close to the garden and might influence the site's protection.

"The World Heritage Committee sent an expert to examine the location in May and June, who believed it will be no problem for site's protection, and that Ieoh Ming Pei is a good choice for the designer," Jiang said.

Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas, a site in southeast China inscribed just last year, is a concern for the committee because of plans to build 13 hydro-power stations.

One of the stations is said to be destined for a protected area, while the rest are not far from the site.

Ma Suhong, a senior official with Yunnan Provincial World Heritage Management Commission, told China Daily the plan has not been approved by the State Council yet, so the stations may not be built.

"But the government promises to be prudent when making decisions on the matter," Ma said.

"And we will first listen to opinions of the World Heritage Committee before making any moves on the plan," he said.

In another development, the World Heritage Committee is processing the applications of five Chinese cultural heritage sites to be inscribed on the World Heritage List, a senior Chinese cultural heritage official told Xinhua News Agency.

They were likely to enter the list in several years, said Shan Jixiang, director of China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

The five sites are the historical monuments of Macao, the Diaolou buildings in Kaiping of South China's Guangdong Province, the Yin Ruins in Central China's Henan Province, the Tulou buildings in East China's Fujian Province and the terraced fields of the Hani ethnic group in Southwest China's Yunnan Province. Both the Diaolou and the Tulou are unusual residential buildings in South China.

(China Daily July 5, 2004)

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