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Specialists Receive Training for Saving Silk Road

One hundred of Chinese specialists will be trained in protecting the cultural heritage sites and relics along the Silk Road over the next five years, thanks to a cooperation project between China, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

The special training program, the first of its kind in China, will be carried out by state-level research institutes of China and Japan, according to the China Cultural Relics Research Institute.

Japan and the Republic of Korea will invest 125 million Japanese yen (about US$1.14 million) in the joint training project.

Those working in the cultural heritage protection organizations along the Silk Road in China's Xinjiang, Qinghai, Ningxia, Gansu, Shaanxi and Henan, especially young and middle-aged specialists, were chosen to join the project.

The training will include classes on cultural heritage protection theory, experiments in labs 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 started in the ancient Chinese metropolis of Chang'an, known today as Xi'an, and ended in the eastern bank of Mediterranean Sea. It traversed about 7,000 kilometers through China and central Asia and became the nexus between different civilizations in ancient Europe and Asia.

More than 1,200 relic sites, mainly grottoes and ancient earth buildings, are dotted along the Silk Road in China, including the World Heritage of Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang in northwest China's Gansu Province.

A lot of the cultural heritage sites along the ancient route are under threat of destruction from natural and human factors.

Experts say nearly 90 percent of the relic sites along the Silk Road have lost their original appearance.

China has strengthened its efforts to protect the Silk Road in recent years. The State Administration of Cultural Heritage (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 joint 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 sites along the Silk Road, said Hou Jukun, an official with SACH.

(Xinhua News Agency May 16, 2006)

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