China's Hani Rice Terraces Inscribed on Prestigious World Heritage List
   2013-06-22 16:24:03    Xinhua      Web Editor: Wang Wei

Delegates attend the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 22, 2013. The UNESCO's World Heritage Committee inscribed China's cultural landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces onto the prestigious World Heritage List on Saturday, bringing the total number of World Heritage Sites in China to 45. [Photo:Xinhua/Li Ying]

The UNESCO's World Heritage Committee inscribed China's cultural landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces onto the prestigious World Heritage List on Saturday, bringing the total number of World Heritage Sites in China to 45.

The inscription decision was made during the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee.

"In the name of the entire committee, I would like to extend congratulations to China for the inscription of the beautiful site of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces on the World Heritage List," Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, Chairman of the session, said during the meeting after the site was listed.

Tong Mingkang, deputy director of China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage, thanked the 21-member World Heritage Committee for inscribing the site on the List and vowed to provide the best conservation for this site.

"Hani people will take today as their honey day," he said during the session.

He said with the iconic beauty of the landscape, the site is the product of the particular way of farming, together with the unique tradition and religion behind.

China nominated the Hani Terraces for the inscription on March 28, 2008.

The deep mountains-hidden cultural heritage site locates in Yuanyang County in Honghe Prefecture, southeastern Yunnan Province.

According to the UNESCO's document, as a property of cultural landscape, the site is comprised of the forest at the hilltop, the stockaded villages below the forest, the terraced fields below the villages and the Honghe water system below the terraced fields.

The reservation zone of the property covers 13,190 hectares and has a buffer zone of 14,810 hectares.

The document said that Hani Terraces created by people of various ethnic groups, particularly the Hani people, is an absolute wonder of farming civilization with a long history of more than 1,300 years.

"The site has formed a very spectacular traditional farming landscape featuring amazing rice culture," it said.

During the debate and consideration of the property, members of the World Heritage Committee voiced their admiration to China for nominating this marvelous site for the World Heritage List.

"France has diversified farming industries and we admire China for nominating the site for the World Heritage List," said a head of French delegation.

A representative of Malaysian delegation said that Malaysia appreciated this nomination tremendously and congratulated China for this splendid nomination.

"This is an extraordinary nomination with strong culture, environment and historical evidence of the relationship between man and nature that go back to more than a thousand years," she said.

"We strongly support this unique site to be inscribed on the list," said a representative of the Japanese delegation.

The property of Hani Terraces is comprised of two systems, the UNESCO's document said.

The first one is the unique and integrated ecological system which comprises the forests on the hilltop, the terraced fields and villages on the hillsides, and the water system at the foot of the hills.

The forests on the hilltops conserve the water resources. Making use of the water resources conserved by the forest on the hilltops, the terraced fields on the hillsides have formed vast artificial everglade while producing rice and aquatic animals and plants co-existed with these water-filled paddy fields to meet the basic needs of hundreds of thousands of Hani people and other ethnic groups.

The second system is the ethnic cultural system which comprises tangible cultural heritages including the villages, dwellings and buildings for production, the protector woods of the villages, irrigation works and road sign steles, and intangible cultural heritages such as the traditional production and life styles, traditional custom and fete activities, and knowledge systems passed down orally, for instance, the Song of Four Seasons.

Ek Tha, a spokesman of the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee, said the cultural landscape of Hani Rice Terraces is an extra-ordinary and exceptional landscape.

"The people of Yunnan province must be very proud of their property, which is now inscribed on the World Heritage List," he told Xinhua after the listing. "You cannot find any beautiful rice landscape like Hani Terraces in other parts of the world."

He described the inscription of the site as another success of China in protecting and conserving its cultural properties.

"Adding this cultural property to the prestigious list sends a powerful message to global tourists and researchers, who are interested in the landscape, to see the site with their own eyes," he said.

Besides Hani Terraces, the 37th WHC session on Friday added northwest China's Xinjiang Tianshan natural site to the World Heritage List.

Xinjiang Tianshan contains a scenically beautiful series of areas, including spectacular snow-capped mountains and glacier- capped peaks, undisturbed forests and meadows, clear rivers and lakes and red bed canyons.

It is home to 15,953 glaciers and the endangered snow leopard. About 66 percent of the world's 2,500 remaining snow leopards live in Xinjiang.

The 37th WHC session, taking place in Phnom Penh, will close in Angkor on June 27.

Dim Sovannarom, a spokesman for the 37th session, said Friday that about 17 of the 30 candidate sites are likely to be inscribed on the list during the session.

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