Global in­flu­ences earn is­land place on Cul­tural Her­itage list

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By WANG KAIHAO wangkai­hao@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

Ku­langsu, a small is­land off the shore of Xi­a­men, Fu­jian prov­ince, was added to the UN­ESCO World Cul­tural Her­itage list on Satur­day as an early wit­ness to glob­al­iza­tion.

The de­ci­sion was made at the on­go­ing 41st ses­sion of World Her­itage Com­mit­tee in Krakow, Poland, which des­ig­nated Ku­langsu a His­toric In­ter­na­tional Set­tle­ment.

Cov­er­ing a mere 1.88 square kilo­me­ters, the is­land hosted set­tle­ments from 13 coun­tries from the end of the First Opium War (1840-42) to the early 20th cen­tury.

The com­mit­tee found that Ku­langsu was China’s ma­jor gate­way in early-stage glob­al­iza­tion and ex­hib­ited mixed ar­chi­tec­tural char­ac­ter­is­tics from the lo­cal, South­east Asian and Western styles. It widely re­flected cross-bor­der com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

To­day, 931 his­tor­i­cal build­ings and gar­dens in var­i­ous styles re­main, most of them for­mer ty­coons’ res­i­dences, over­seas com­pa­nies and pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions like hos­pi­tals. Many pi­o­neers of Chi­nese mod­ern­iza­tion were born and left their for­mer res­i­dences on Ku­langsu, in­clud­ing Lin Qiaozhi, a founder of mod­ern Chi­nese gyne­col­ogy, and Ma Yue­han, an icon in Chi­nese sports ed­u­ca­tion.

“The is­land has deep tra­di­tional Chi­nese cul­ture roots and in­clu­sive­ness to em­brace dif­fer­ent val­ues and cul­tures,” said Song Xin­chao, deputy di­rec­tor of the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cul­tural Her­itage.

“It also shows a com­bi­na­tion of an­cient thought and mod­ern liv­ing con­cepts.”

Though some other Chi­nese coastal cities also have Western-style build­ings from re­cent his­tory, said Liang Yixin, deputy head of the Ku­langsu ad­min­is­tra­tion com­mit­tee, Ku­langsu has the In­side ad­van­tage of be­ing the first to seek World Her­itage sta­tus for its well-pre­served and closely packed ar­chi­tec­ture on a mar­itime is­land, which cre­ates a unique cul­tural land­scape.

Since 2014, prepa­ra­tions have been made for World Her­itage sta­tus, Liang said. For ex­am­ple, a dig­i­tal mon­i­tor­ing net­work was set up at the sites and a spe­cial of­fice was opened within his com­mit­tee for the preser­va­tion of cul­tural relics.

“Ku­langsu is not only a scenic spot, but also a com­mu­nity,” Liang said. “We’ve tried to en­cour­age lo­cal res­i­dents to par­tic­i­pate in the pro­tec­tion.”

New mu­se­ums have opened on the is­land to bet­ter present its cul­tural re­sources. An aban­doned hos­pi­tal, for ex­am­ple, was ren­o­vated to be used as a satel­lite gallery of Bei­jing’s Palace Mu­seum to dis­play its col­lec­tions of for­eign ar­ti­facts.

“The cen­tral gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to en­cour­age im­prov­ing the qual­ity of is­land res­i­dents’ lives and im­prov­ing vis­i­tors’ ex­pe­ri­ences there,” Song said. “An even more beau­ti­ful Ku­langsu will be pre­sented to the pub­lic.”

As a pop­u­lar tourism des­ti­na­tion, Ku­langsu has had prob­lems with crowd­ing. Song said the daily num­ber of vis­i­tors will be capped to com­ply with crowd-con­trol de­mands from World Her­itage Com­mit­tee. More mea­sures will fol­low to bet­ter study and pre­serve his­tor­i­cal her­itage on the is­land.

On Fri­day, Hoh Xil, China’s other can­di­date in the con­fer­ence in Poland, also was rec­og­nized as a World Nat­u­ral Her­itage site. The na­ture re­serve in Qing­hai prov­ince, 4,500 me­ters above sea level, is known for its bio­di­ver­sity and es­pe­cially its Ti­betan an­te­lope.

About 1,600 del­e­gates from 107 coun­tries and 167 in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions at­tended the con­fer­ence, which will con­tinue through July 12. Del­e­gates are judg­ing 35 can­di­date World Her­itage Sites from around the world and also dis­cussing the sta­tus and pro­tec­tion of en­dan­gered World Her­itage Sites in Syria.

China now has 52 World Her­itage sites, se­cond only to Italy.

the num­ber of World Her­itage Sites that China now has, se­cond only to Italy Com­ment

WEI PEIQUAN / XIN­HUA

The is­land Ku­langsu has been added to the UN­ESCO World Cul­tural Her­itage list at a con­fer­ence of the World Her­itage Com­mit­tee on Satur­day in Krakow, Poland.

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