People's Daily highlights the conclusion of the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee: Promote exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations and protect heritage treasures

2021-08-01 15:22:57

On August 1, 2021, the Top News column of the People’s Daily published a news report titled "Promote Exchanges and Mutual Learning Among Civilizations and Protect Heritage Treasures" to focus on the conclusion of the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee in Fuzhou City, Fujian Province. With fruitful results, the session calls for the promotion of "China’s Experience" through exchanges and mutual learning.

People's Daily highlights the conclusion of the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee: Promote exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations and protect heritage treasures

The extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee——

Promote Exchanges and Mutual Learning Among Civilizations and Protect Heritage Treasures

By Zhong Ziwei, Liu Xiaoyu and Wang Yinxin

People’s Daily (Section 02 of August 1, 2021)

From July 16 to 31, 2021, the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee was held in Fuzhou, Fujian.

Taking the 50th anniversary of the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage as an opportunity, the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee stands at a new starting point to look back at the history and look forward to the future, build consensus, draw on other countries’ strengths, and protect the heritage treasures through exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations.

Fruitful results garnered with calls for deepening international cooperation

"The world's cultural and natural heritage is an important outcome of the development of human civilization and natural evolution, and an important vehicle for the exchanges and mutual learning between civilizations. To well protect, inherit and make good use of these precious treasures is our shared responsibility and is of vital importance to the continuity of human civilization and the sustainable development of the world.” On July 16, 2021, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee.

The 16-day session featured dialogue among civilizations, exchanges, and cooperation, and yielded fruitful results.

A declaration builds consensus- On July 18, 2021, the session adopted the Fuzhou Declaration to reiterate the importance of world heritage conservation and international cooperation, and the need to work and act together to address climate change. The Fuzhou Declaration calls for closer international cooperation in the framework of universal multilateralism, increasing support to countries in need, in particular African and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and scaling up World Heritage education, knowledge-sharing, and the use of new technologies.

According to His Excellency Mr. Tian Xuejun, Vice Minister of Education, Chairperson of the National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO, and Chairperson of the extended 44th session of World Heritage Committee, the Fuzhou Declaration has been widely recognized and highly praised by various member states. It is generally believed that the balanced and inclusive declaration fully reflects the concerns of the majority of States Parties, and serves as a landmark.

A set of data shows great results – Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this session evaluated the World Heritage nominations for both 2020 and 2021, updated three important lists including the World Heritage List, the List of World Heritage in Danger, and the World Heritage Tentative List, involved 45 World Heritage List projects pending review and 258 reports on the state of conservation of the World Heritage properties, and held 13 side events.

At this session, China and Africa initially developed a five-year long-term plan for capacity-building cooperation in the field of China-Africa world heritage, which aims to establish a more direct exchange platform and enhance mutual understanding and exchange of ideas between practitioners in the field of African and Chinese world heritage, share the best practices and experience in world heritage conservation and management, establish cooperative projects, and better promote the sustainable development of the locality through the world heritage.

Demonstrate the elegant demeanor and share China’s experience with the world

On July 25, 2021, good news came from the venue of the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee - China’s world heritage nomination "Quanzhou: Emporium of the World in Song-Yuan China" passed the review and was successfully inscribed on the World Heritage List. So far, the total number of World Heritage Sites in China has reached 56.

Why does Quanzhou attract the attention of the world? The 22 representative historical sites and their associated environments and spaces distributed in the vast space extending from the seaport through the plain to the mountainous areas in the hinterland fully reflect the characteristic overseas trade system and diverse prosperity of Quanzhou during the Song and Yuan periods (10th - 14th centuries AD) and support the theme values of the "Emporium of the World in Song-Yuan China" from multiple dimensions.

The extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee held that the project covered many important cultural elements, including social structure, administrative system, transportation, production, and commerce, which jointly contributed to the gradual rise and vigorous development of Quanzhou in the 10th to 14th centuries, and the economic and cultural development of East Asia and Southeast Asia.

The ancient city of Quanzhou, acclaimed as "the largest port in the the Orient", has become the best testimony of building a community with a shared future for mankind. The route of Quanzhou's cultural heritage conservation further outlines the characteristic and image of "China’s experience" of world heritage conservation.

As the host city of this session, Fuzhou has launched continuous efforts in contiguous conservation and restoration of cultural heritage across the city, successively repaired more than 180 key cultural relics and more than 1,300 ancient and historic buildings, created 17 historic blocks, and protected and renovated 261 old streets and alleys. 

"In recent years, the cultural heritage conservation in Fuzhou has been improved in all respects," said Lin Baojin, Secretary of the CPC Fuzhou Municipal Committee, adding that Fuzhou always adhered to promoting the dynamic inheritance of the cultural and natural heritage and its integration into life so that the cultural relics collected in museums, the legacy displayed on the vast land and the words written in ancient books  become more and more "vibrant".

“Fuzhou has a long history and culture, a unique natural environment, and effective urban governance.” Prof. Shahbaz Khan, UNESCO Representative to the People’s Republic of China,made the remarks while strolling through the ancient streets and alleys of Fuzhou.

The Russian city of Kazan will host the next session of the World Heritage Committee. Ruslan Galiakhmetov, Head of International Relations Department of Kazan City Council, said that he “learned China’s very distinctive experience from the heritage protection work of Fujian and Fuzhou.”

Innovative ideas generate colorful exciting activities

The curtains hung up in the sky opened to give the stage to the light and shadow, dance, and opera. On the opening day of the 44th session, an immersive performance was held at Nanhou Street as a part of the Three Lanes and Seven Alleys, bringing a unique audio-visual experience to the audience.

During the session, more than 20 cultural performances were staged in the streets and alleys of Fuzhou; high-definition large pictures of the World Heritage Sites were displayed on the streets, and the theme exhibition of the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee was held simultaneously.

A few days ago, the Beautiful City Life Festival kicked off in the Shangxiahang Historic and Cultural Block. The seven booths on-site with a rich collection of the dazzling array of intangible heritage products combined the traditional culture of Fuzhou with the session’s elements and attracted many citizens and tourists to come to the trendy cultural feast.

On July 24, 2021, the online exhibition for the thematic exhibition of the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee was officially launched. Turn on your phone, swipe the QR code, and move your fingers and you can appreciate the World Heritage Sites around the world. According to sources, Fuzhou has drawn on the experience of hosting the four Digital China Summits to promote online plus offline exhibitions and broadcasts to create the digital session.

In addition to culture and science and technology, the session also attaches great importance to ecological preservation. On the second day after the opening of the session, at the Liangcuo Historic and Cultural Block, Chinese and foreign guests planted two banyan trees and 100 Fujian mountain cherry blossoms. The tree planting activity under the title of "World Heritage Forest" is a practice of this session to implement the concept of green development.

In addition, this session also formulated an emission reduction action plan, adopted energy-saving and water-saving equipment in the venues, and encouraged the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions through centralized and low-carbon travel.