Priority is placed on new Unesco agreement
A Unesco conference entered its second day in Suzhou yesterday, with the chairman saying top billing would go to overturning an agreement which the mainland sees as unfairly limiting it to one new heritage application a year.
Zhang Xinsheng, chairman of the 28th World Heritage Committee, said review and discussion of the agreement, known as the Cairns Decision, would be top on the session's agenda.
The policy was first put forward in 2000 when the Unesco World Heritage Committee met in the Australian city of Cairns.
It stipulates that each member country of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation can only put one site forward each year for inclusion on the World Natural and Cultural Heritage list.
But China plans to propose that this limitation be restricted to the culture heritage category but not to the category for both culture and nature heritage.
The mainland already has 29 sites on the list, with more than 100 others queuing up for inclusion. If the policy becomes permanent, some sites will be on the waiting list for a century.
The president of the Unesco General Conference, Michael Omolewa, recognised the disparity and said one of the committee's main purposes was to work to reduce the imbalance.
Profitable precedents mean three times the number of sites across the mainland are vying for status compared to five years ago. Tourism revenues in the ancient city of Pingyao in Shanxi province have soared since it made the Unesco list in 1997.