China ready to overtake Italy for the Unesco site record
China could soon overtake Italy in the ranking of countries with the largest number of world heritage sites. The two countries currently occupy the first position in the special classification of places recognized by Unesco of “exceptional universal value”, both with 55 sites. However, after the 44th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which starts today and will be held until July 31 in the city of Fuzhou in China, one of the two countries could only remain in first place.
The committee, made up of 21 members, would in fact be ready to include the ancient city of Quanzhou, from the southeastern province of Fujian. Quanzhou was one of the largest port cities in the world during the Yuan dynasty (13th to 14th centuries), having become an important hub for trade routes that crossed the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific. “One of the two ports in the world where it is most traded”, Marco Polo described it, calling it “very great and noble” in his Million, written at the end of the 13th century when the city was known as Zaiton.
“China is the fastest country in the world to apply for recognition of the world’s natural and cultural heritage, which shows that the Chinese government has paid close attention in this area,” said Zhang Ziwu, professor of cultural studies at the University of China. Beijing in an interview with the Chinese newspaper Global Times, stating that this year China “probably“Will overtake Italy as a country with more Unesco sites.
During the session of the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture 42 applications will be evaluated, 18 submitted this year and 24 last year, when due to the pandemic it was decided to postpone the annual meeting .
Italy is present with four candidates, compared to the only one in China: three of the cultural sites (the Scrovegni chapel in Padua and the great spas of Europe, presented in 2020, and the arcades of Bologna this year) and one for the natural sites (the ancient and primordial beech woods, presented this year).
The previous session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, held in 2019, saw the inclusion of the Prosecco hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene in the list of World Heritage Sites protected by UNESCO, bringing Italy’s recognized sites to 55 . During the same meeting, held in Baku, UNESCO welcomed two candidacies proposed by China: the archaeological ruins of the city of Liangzhu and the ornithological reserves of Migratory Birds located along the coast of the Gulf of Bohai in the Yellow Sea.