Hoh Xil as heritage site can better protect Tibetan culture

By Yu Ning Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/13 22:58:39

Kekexili: Mountain Patrol, a 2004 film directed by Chinese director Lu Chuan, dramatized how Tibetans battle poachers to protect Tibetan antelopes in the remote Tibetan region of Kekexili, also known as Hoh Xil, bringing attention to the region and stimulating better protection of local species. The 41st session of the World Heritage Committee declared the Hoh Xil nature reserve a natural heritage site last week, and the Chinese public warmly embraced the decision. 

However, some overseas Tibetan groups hyped that the UNESCO designation would allow Chinese authorities to relocate local residents from the area and threaten its environment and nomadic culture. They criticized the UNESCO decision for being "outrageous."

The Chinese foreign ministry responded Wednesday that the Chinese government's application documents for world heritage status for the site showed its resolve to fully respect the wishes, traditional culture, religious beliefs and lifestyles of the nomadic people who live there. "The Chinese government has not, is not and will not in the future do any forced evictions in the Hoh Xil nominated area." A UNESCO spokesperson earlier told the BBC that the Chinese government "made [a] commitment that no forced relocation will be undertaken" when the issue of resettlement was discussed during the examination of the nomination.

Hoh Xil means "beautiful young woman, blue mountain" in Mongolian. The Hoh Xil nature reserve, located on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, is home to over 200 animal species, including the endangered Tibetan antelopes. For many years, Tibetan nomads have lived there and formed their unique nomadic culture.

The Chinese government has demonstrated the commitment and resolve to better protect the reserve. Stricter protection measures will be rolled out to protect the region, from both the ecological and cultural perspectives. More environmental education activities will also be organized, which will not only help enhance the protection awareness of local Tibetans, but also solicit more support for the region's protection from the whole of Chinese society. 

The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage regulates a series of obligations and duties a country shall take for the protection, conservation and presentation of the cultural and natural heritage situated on its territory. The designation will be revoked if the UNESCO World Heritage Committee determines that the designated site is not properly managed or protected. This raises high requirements for China to protect Hoh Xil and puts China's protection efforts under international scrutiny.

Hoh Xil belongs to all of China and the Chinese people will protect it as they cherish every inch of their land. Some overseas Tibetan groups have ulterior motives to split China, regardless of the benefits the UNESCO designation will bring to the region. They groundlessly made an issue of the Tibetan nomads. They are outrageous.


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