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04-08-06, 19:49
China and central Asian countries will jointly apply for world cultural heritage status for historical sites along the ancient Silk Road in the next three to five years, a senior Chinese cultural official said Thursday.

"An action plan will be made for the joint application," said Tong Mingkang, deputy director of the State Cultural Heritage Administration, at an ongoing multinational application convention held in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Under the plan, countries along the ancient Silk Road will take measures to protect cultural relics, improve the environment at the sites, and carry out a promotion campaign, said Tong.

The 2,000-year-old Silk Road was mainly a trade route linking Asia and Europe. It began from the city of Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, and ended in Europe via south and central Asia countries. It was 7,000 kilometers long, more than half of which is in China.

Along this road, gunpowder, papermaking and printing technologies, three of the four great inventions in ancient China, were sent to the West, while western mathematics and medicine came to China.

In 1987, the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes, also known as the Caves of 1,000 Buddhas in northwest China's Gansu Province, was listed as a world heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

But in 1994, China had to withdraw its application for the world heritage site for the ancient Jiaohe City, a cultural relics site along the Silk Road in Xinjiang, because of inadequate preparations.

In the 1990s, countries along the ancient Silk Road began to seek a multinational world heritage application for historical sites along the route, according to Tong.

Also in the early 1990s, the UNESCO carried out three large-scale inspections on historical sites along the ancient Silk Road.

In 2003 and 2004, the UNESCO organized two teams of experts to conduct inspections the cultural relics sites on Silk Road in China.

"Now, it is a good time for a multinational application, and China, as a source country of the ancient Silk Road, is willing to cooperate with the UNESCO and other countries to do this work," said Tong.

Six historical sites in five central Asian countries along the ancient Silk Road have been listed separately as world heritage sites, each with its own specialties, according to Takashi Ito, a project worker with the UNESCO World Heritage Center's Asia-Pacific Region Program.

But a multinational application will be a better choice if we want to present the whole historical culture of the ancient Silk Road, he said.

Jing Feng, also with UNESCO World Heritage Center's Asia-Pacific Region Program, said the World Heritage Committee encourages multinational applications of world heritage sites that are significant to all people.

Before an official multinational application, we will try to preserve well cultural relics along the ancient Silk Road, said Karl Baipakov, director of the Institute of Archaeology under the Ministry of Education and Science of Kyrgyzstan.

Tuygun Babaev, a cultural relics protection official from Uzbekistan, said his country will draw up a detailed plan in order to participate in the multinational application.

China began this year a comprehensive protection plan for more than 20 key historical sites along sections of the Silk Road in Xinjiang. Investment for these projects is estimated at 420 million yuan (52 million U.S. dollars).

Reinforcement of a 3,000-year-old city on the ancient Silk Road in Turpan City of Xinjiang started on Wednesday, marking the beginning of the comprehensive project.

The convention, held in Turpan from Wednesday to Saturday, has attracted more than 50 experts and heritage officials from the UNESCO and China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tadzhikistan which are expected to make the joint application.

Source: Xinhua