World heritage bid likely to include Mao's tomb

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 10:58pm


The Chairman Mao Memorial Hall and the Monument to the People's Heroes are likely to be included in the UN application for world heritage status, according to an official from the Dongcheng district Culture Commission in Beijing.

The ancient block commonly known as the 'Central Axis', which authorities intend to include in their application for Unesco world heritage status, covers a 7.8-kilometre strip between the Yongding Gate, the reconstructed former front gate of the outer section of Beijing's old city wall, in the south to the Drum Tower in the north.

Beijing started its application process last year, but the plan previously only covered buildings from the Ming and Qing dynasties. It is now being recommended the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, commonly known as the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong , and Monument to the People's Heroes be included.

Wei Ruifeng, a deputy director of the Dongcheng District Culture Commission, said both structures should be listed despite them being only a few decades old.

'Both structures constitute heritage and a heritage site does not have to be 100 years old to qualify as a world heritage site,' Wei said.

He cited the example of the Sydney Opera House, which opened to the public in 1973 but was included in the World Heritage list in 2007.

However, heritage authorities have remained tight-lipped over how many sites will actually be included in the application and if the mausoleum and the monument would be listed as well.

Professor Lu Zhou, director of the Institute of Architectural History and Historical Conservation at Tsinghua University, earlier told the Beijing Times that 22 sites including Mao's mausoleum and the monument were likely to be included.

The matter has drawn criticism on the internet. One commentator, citing the political upheavals and mass deaths under Mao's rule, said a site housing the late leader's body should never be part of honoured monuments but rather a reminder of national shame.

A blogger under the name of Yi Daochan said that if Mao's mausoleum were included, an otherwise promising bid would fail because worship of the body of a political figure was at odds with the Unesco charter on heritage.