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UNESCO adds Grand Canal, Silk Road route to World Heritage List

2014-06-23 11:07:47

(Global Times)


China gained two more UNESCO World Heritage sites Sunday, bringing the nation's total to 47.

The decision was announced by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Qatar.

The Silk Road, which served as a corridor for trade and cultural exchanges between Asia and Europe dating back 2,000 years ago, was inscribed on the World Heritage List along with the Grand Canal, which runs 1,794 kilometers from Beijing to Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province.

China's application for the Silk Road was jointly submitted with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the first transnational application for China.

"We hope the experience gained in the application process will lay the foundation for future transnational projects," said Tong Mingkang, deputy director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

Du Yue, secretary general of the Chinese delegation at the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee, said the approval of the application would strengthen cultural exchanges between the three countries.

A total of 33 heritage sites are included along the historic trade route, 22 of which are located in the provinces of Henan, Shaanxi, Gansu and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have eight and three sites respectively.

Chinese President Xi Jinping mooted the idea of a Silk Road Economic Belt during his visit to Central Asia in 2013, which was then supported by many neighboring countries.

"Different from the Silk Road, China's Grand Canal is a living heritage, which makes its preservation more challenging. Many projects have increased awareness of preservation and improved protective measures during the application process. They should be further enhanced with more investments and higher standards," Chen Tongbin, director of China Architecture Design and Research Group, was quoted by the Xinhua News Agency as saying.

The Grand Canal, the longest artificial waterway in the world, dates back more than 2,400 years, still plays a dynamic role in transportation, irrigation and flood control.

Other canal systems are listed as World Heritage sites, including the Canal du Midi in France and the Amsterdam Canal District of the Netherlands.

"Those canals, built after the industrial revolution, date back some 300 years. The Grand Canal has significant historical and technological value," said An Jiayao, a research fellow with the Institute of Archaeology at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

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