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Interview: China is world's "wonderful example" of protecting, preserving heritage, top UN official says

(Xinhua)    09:19, July 24, 2016

A top UN official congratulated China on the inclusion of its Hubei Shennongjia, a national geographical park, in the prestigious World Heritage List, saying that "China is a wonderful example for other countries" in protecting and preserving its cultural and natural heritage sites.

Irina Bokova, the director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said "I think I can congratulate, of course, China for inscribing another site on the World Heritage List."

"I think China has topped (the world list) both in terms of cultural sites and natural sites," she said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

Last Sunday, the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee, held in the Turkish city of Istanbul, decided to put China's Hubei Shennongjia on the World Heritage List as a natural site, bringing to 50 the number of listed Chinese properties.

Hubei Shennongjia, located in central China, is hailed as a treasure of wildlife renowned for high plant diversity.

On July 15, the Istanbul conference decided to add China's Zuojiang Huashan rock-art cultural landscape to the World Heritage List.

"I would say that China has given a very good example of protection of heritage and preservation of heritage," Bokova said. "This is where China can share experience with other countries."

Bokova, one of the 12 announced candidates for the next UN secretary-general, was at UN Headquarters in New York for the selection process, including a televised debate at the UN General Assembly and the first round of a secret straw poll by the UN Security Council.

According to diplomatic sources here, the UNESCO chief, the former Bulgarian foreign minister, got nine "encourage" votes and ranked the top third of the first round straw poll by the 15-nation council, but she won the highest number of "encourage" votes among the six woman candidates.

Bokova assumed office in November 2009, becoming the first woman to head the UN culture and education agency.

Bokova spoke highly of China's support to the UN cultural agency, and she also lauded the "strong cooperation" between the UNESCO and China, saying that "this matters for the world."

"China has a very deep sense of heritage, a very deep sense of culture and history," she said. "China understands why culture and heritage matters not only for the national pride, but also for the mobilization around certain development goals."

"China strongly supports our quest in the UNESCO during the preparation for the Sustainable Development Goals until 2030," approved by the world leaders in September last year to serve as the blueprint for global development efforts for the next 15 years, she said.

UNESCO and China jointly organized major conferences in such Chinese cities as Beijing, the Chinese capital, and Hangzhou in east China, she said, adding that she and Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong jointly opened the 2nd UNESCO Creative Cities Beijing Summit on June 6.

"China is strongly supporting creative cultural industries and supporting crafts and tradition," she said. "I think this is a wonderful example for other countries."

As for the destruction of world's famous heritage sites by terrorists and extremists in Afghanistan and Syria, Bokova said, "I think one of the dramatic consequences of conflict, very much linked to the humanitarian disaster and the prosecution of people, is the deliberate destruction of the heritage."

"That is why I spoke and mobilized the international community to once again confirm our value of our common history of heritage," she said, "because extremists destroy (the heritage), they want to destroy our understanding that we are a common community of humanity."

"They want to destroy the ocean of diversity, and they want to erase our history memories," she said. "I think this is very dangerous now in the world."

In the wake of the widely condemned heritage destruction, UNESCO created a large platform for governments, political leaders to contribute to the adoption of a very important resolution of the UN Security Council in order to stop the illegitimate traffic of antiquities, by which they finance the extremist activities, she said.

"We have a new sense of belonging of uniting ourselves, all of us, around this important matter. I think probably coming out of this debate is a new understanding about history and heritage, a new political commitment to protect and preserve it," she said.

"And we so much need nowadays common understanding, ... because they belong to all of us," Bokova said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor: Jiang Jie,Bianji)

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