First multilateral conference for protection of Asian cultural heritage launched by China wins approval
Published: Oct 27, 2021 11:26 PM
Photo: courtesy of China’s National Cultural Heritage Administration

Photo: courtesy of China’s National Cultural Heritage Administration

The first multilateral conference for the protection of Asian cultural heritage, the Asian Dialogue for Cultural Heritage Conservation, was held on Wednesday in Beijing. 

Featuring the theme of “promoting dialogue among civilizations, shaping the future of Asia”, the Dialogue aims to move forward with the Asian Initiative for Cultural Heritage Conservation and open a new chapter for exchanges and mutual learning among Asian civilizations. 

Senior officials from 36 Asian countries and five international organizations including UNESCO, the International Council of Museums and the International Council on Monuments and Sites participated in the conference in the form of an online meeting. 

At the conference, the Asian Alliance for Cultural Heritage Conservation that was jointly initiated by 10 Asian countries – China, Armenia, Cambodia, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen – was officially established. 

Li Qun, vice-minister of culture and tourism and head of China’s National Cultural Heritage Administration (NCHA), said at the conference that the NCHA has launched fruitful cooperation with many Asian countries in archaeology, the restoration of cultural relics, heritage declaration and management, and museum exhibition exchanges. 

“China is willing to take this conference as an opportunity to work with Asian countries and international organizations to inject new and stronger cultural forces into the co-building of an Asian community with a shared future,” he said. 

Representatives from the participating countries including Cambodia, Iran and Syria welcomed the initiative, and they pointed out that Asian cultural heritage is facing unprecedented challenges from urban development, climate change, natural disasters, the global pandemic and armed conflicts.

According to data from the UNESCO World Heritage Center, about 50 percent of the world’s endangered world cultural heritage sites are located in Asia.

“Preserving our heritage is not a luxury – it is a prerequisite for ensuring that future generations can inherit an identity, a history, a voice, and a sense of ownership of their past and future,” said Xing Qu, deputy director-general of UNESCO. Xing expressed thanks to China for organizing the event and for helping to address the challenges facing cultural heritage. 

The ceremony also set up the Asian Fund for Cultural Heritage Conservation as a special fund to support programs and projects in conservation, research and joint archaeology with regard to cultural heritage conservation in Asia.

Meanwhile, the Asian Youth Ambassador Program for Cultural Heritage Conservation has been launched, aiming to nominate a number of young envoys with professional expertise and community capacity, implement a series of professional exchange and mass communication programs geared to the youth, and train young professionals with future-oriented vision for the conservation of cultural heritage across Asia.

The conference will last until Thursday. Experts and scholars from 18 Asian countries will discuss 26 topics including “Cultural heritage promotes sustainable development in Asia,” and “Cultural heritage responds to future challenges in Asia.”

At the closing ceremony, the Recommendations on the Asian Initiative for Cultural Heritage Conservation will be announced.