Experts’ Angkor Wat contributions recognized
The Cambodian government awarded honorary medals to three Chinese cultural heritage conservators in Siem Reap on Tuesday for their outstanding contributions to the protection of Angkor Wat.
The three conservators from the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage in Beijing — Xu Yan, Wang Yuanlin and Gu Jun — were leading experts in the China-led renovation of Ta Keo, a 46,000 square meter temple dating back to the 10th century in Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Siem Reap.
The renovation began in 2010 and was completed earlier this year.
The medals were bestowed by Phoeurng Sackona, Cambodia’s minister of culture and fine arts, during a two-day conference of the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC-Angkor) that ended in Siem Reap on Wednesday.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the international framework to save the heritage at Angkor Wat. When the site received World Heritage status in 1992, it was labeled “in danger” by UNESCO due to years of neglect and the impact of warfare.
More than 500 delegates from countries including China, France, Japan, Germany, the United States and India, and international organizations attended the conference in Siem Reap to share their experiences of conservation work at the site.
In a speech on Tuesday, Hun Sen, Cambodia’s prime minister, told those in attendance that the international effort had greatly improved the protection of heritage, tourism and locals’ livelihoods.
From 1998 to 2008, China renovated Chau Say Tevoda, a 1,600 sq m temple in Angkor Wat, in the nation’s first project under the ICCAngkor framework.
“Chinese and Cambodian people have a long friendship,” said Hu Bing, deputy director of the National Cultural Heritage Administration, at the conference. “China will spare no effort working with counterparts from other countries to contribute our strength to protecting Angkor.”
China and Cambodia signed an agreement earlier this year to form a Sino-Cambodian joint working group to lead the conservation of the ruins of the Royal Palace of Angkor Thom.
Preliminary archaeological research on the royal palace, which covers 130,000 sq m, has been carried out by the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage.
Academic research and the design of follow-up displays of the heritage will also be part of the project.
“When China was tasked with restoring and studying one of the most important heritage sites in Angkor, it shows our past work has been well recognized,” Hu said. “Interdisciplinary research will be introduced to explore experiences combining protection of heritage and sustainable development.”