China will make concerted efforts with other Central Asian nations to nominate the ancient Silk Road to the world heritage list as early as possible, said Shan Jixiang, director general of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH).
The Silk Road stretched approximately 10,000 kilometers across the mountains, deserts and steppes of Central Asia, joining the market of China with those of Europe and the Middle East. More than 4,000 kms of the ancient route are within China's territory.
Along the Silk Road, China's paper making, printing and gunpowder technologies then were spread to the Western world, whereas new advances in mathematics, medicine and astronomy from the West were introduced into China.
"Such a vital 'Cultural Route' should be given still better protection. And the Silk Road is worthy of the name of world heritage," Shan said recently at a conference of the International Council on Monuments and Sites in Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province.
He noted that more than 10 countries will be involved in the nomination, and diplomats from the related countries have been invited by SACH to visit sites along the Silk Road.
Jing Feng, program specialist for the World Heritage Center of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said the Silk Road was the longest overland trade route on earth and it was also a great channel of communication between people and places, and a conduit for the two-way transmission of art, religion and technology.
Meanwhile, the UNESCO World Heritage Center is working together with the Chinese government on a methodological approach for preparations of a nomination to the world heritage list for cultural assets along the Silk Road, said Jing.
So far, five countries of Central Asia have voiced their readiness to prioritize the protection of the Silk Road, according to Jing.
"In order to preserve the legacy of the Silk Road in a comprehensive manner, " Jing said, "more is needed to take into account than merely monuments and sites."
More pertinence would also be required in adopting an approach that recognizes the immaterial and diffuse nature of a Cultural Route, as well as the dynamic effects of transmission and impact, including all spheres of human activity relating to roads, such as politics, commerce, science, religion and culture, he said.
China already has 31 sites of historical significance included in the world heritage list. But nations in Central Asia are short of experience for nomination. The political and administrative systems of the related countries are so different that it might take a long period of time to nominate the whole Silk Road, Jing acknowledged.
He suggested forming a Silk Road Nomination Task Force management body for coordinating preparatory efforts of the World Heritage nomination.
The nomination could be divided into varied themes such as art, architecture, archaeology, religion, military engineering, agriculture, trade and manufacture, travel and transport, etc., he said.