China backs Malaysia's call for Asian Heritage chapter

Malaysia has previously pushed for an Asian version of UNESCO, and this call for an Asian chapter of UNESCO is now bolstered by backing from China. While I agree with the fact that there the World Heritage sites seem skewed towards Europe and America, I can’t help but feel that this push by Malaysia and China (the latter not particularly known for actually treasuring their cultural heritage) is more keyed to economics and the tourist dollar rather that treasuring heritage for heritage’s sake.

26 June 07 (New Straits Times) – Malaysia has previously pushed for an Asian version of UNESCO, and this call for an Asian chapter of UNESCO is now bolstered by backing from China. While I agree with the fact that the World Heritage sites seem skewed towards Europe and America, I can’t help but feel that this push by Malaysia and China (the latter not particularly known for actually treasuring their cultural heritage) is more keyed to economics and the tourist dollar rather that treasuring heritage for heritage’s sake.

China backs call for heritage chapter

The Chinese government supports Malaysia’s proposal for an Asian chapter of the Unesco World Cultural and Natural Heritage centre.

Chinese Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng says his government agrees with Malaysia that Asia, which has its own distinct set of values and principles, deserves its own criteria for what constitutes a world heritage site.

Malaysia decided to propose an Asian version of the list in October 2006 because the government felt the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation is placing too much emphasis on Europe and the US, and not recognising enough heritage and historical sites in Asia.

“The Chinese government supports this proposal to Unesco and will continue to do so vocally in the international arena,” said Sun after a closed-door meeting with Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim at Kompleks Kraft yesterday.

Read about the proposed Asian Chapter of the Unesco World Cultural and Natural Heritage Centre.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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