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    » 05/05/2012, 00.00

    ASIA

    Experts warn ten major archaeological sites at risk in Asia



    According to the Global Heritage Fund (GHF), economic growth, war and mass tourism are the main cause of "irreparable loss and destruction." The danger is dramatically underestimated and funds for protection and conservation are limited. A Buddhist monastery in Afghanistan and the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Siam in Thailand are among the sites at risk.

    Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Unfettered economic growth and unchecked mass tourism are endangering Asia's architectural treasures, which could vanish in a few years, a report by the Global Heritage Fund (GHF) warns. To illustrate the situation, the latter has released a list of ten sites that are threatened; they range from a Buddhist monastery in Afghanistan, where a powerless international community witnessed the Taliban wantonly destroy the Buddhas of Bamiyan in March 2001, to an ancient city in China. Established in 2002 in California, the GHF chose the sites that are most in danger of "irreparable loss and destruction."

    "These 10 sites represent merely a fragment of the endangered treasures across Asia and the rest of the developing world," GHF executive director Jeff Morgan said in presenting the report.

    The main danger comes from economic growth, which has brought hordes of tourists, but also lawlessness and warfare.

    "Heritage is being dramatically undervalued. Thus, the reinvestment and the focus on heritage is lacking today," Morgan said, warning that the endangered sites were doomed without quick help.

    "We're going to lose them on our watch in the next 10 years."

    The ruins of Ayutthaya (pictured), the ancient capital of Siam (today's Thailand), is one of the sites most at risk.

    Declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as a world heritage in 1991, it suffered greatly in last year's great flood, which damaged 158 historic monuments.

    The Thai government does not have the means or the will to invest the resources experts deem necessary for the site's restoration. At the same time, the historic city has come under threat from vendors and urban development. This had raised concerns that the site might be removed from the UNESCO World Heritage list.

    The top 10 endangered sites, according to the Global Heritage Fund, are:

    1. Ayutthaya in Thailand, a former Siamese capital known as the 'Venice of the East'.

    2. Fort Santiago in the Philippines.

    3. Kashgar, one of the last preserved Silk Road cities in China.

    4. Mahasthangarh, one of South Asia's earliest archaeological sites in Bangladesh.

    5. Mes Aynak, an Afghan Buddhist monastery complex on the Silk Road.

    6. Myauk-U, capital of the first Arakanese kingdom in Myanmar.

    7. Plain of Jars, a mysterious megalithic site in Laos.          

    8. Preah Vihear, a Khmer architectural masterpiece in Cambodia.

    9. Rakhigarhi, one of the biggest, ancient Indus civilization sites in India.

    10. Taxila, an ancient economic crossroads in Pakistan.

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    See also

    07/07/2006 CHINA
    In Anhui people rather let China's heritage waste away than sell to foreigners
    Local authorities advise against selling an old teahouse to a Swedish businessman who wanted to take it home. Often China's artistic heritage is saved by foreigners more than locals.

    14/09/2005 ASIA
    Asia governments to control text-messaging
    Most phone card holders are anonymous. Text-messaging via SMS is often used to organise social protest, but also criminal activities.

    26/02/2009 CHINA
    Beijing announces reprisals against Christie’s for selling two ancient sculptures
    China wants two Chinese bronze sculptures back. Seller says he is ready to do so if China lets Tibet go free.

    07/08/2010 INDIA - UNITED KINGDOM
    Britain will not return the Koh-i-noor diamond to India
    Prime Minister Cameron has ruled it out on his trip to India. But India will not give up. The mysterious and "fatal" story of a diamond found 5 thousand years ago, whose value is 2 ½ times higher than what the world consumes in a day.

    31/01/2013 CHINA
    Beijing pollution "more dangerous than SARS"
    Zhong Nanshan, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Engineering and head of the Institute for respiratory diseases in Guangzhou, warns: "We could defend ourselves from the terrible infection but it is impossible to escape this smog." Peak in hospital admissions for the "Beijing cough", citizens vent anger on the internet: "This is the price to pay for economic growth."



    Editor's choices

    CHINA - VATICAN
    Vatican silence over Shanghai’s Mgr Ma Daqin causing confusion and controversy

    Bernardo Cervellera

    For some, Mgr Ma’s blog post praising the Patriotic Association and acknowledging his mistakes is nothing but “dirt”. For others, he chose humiliation for the “sake of his diocese”. Many wonder why the Holy See has remained silent about the article’s content and the bishop’s persecution. Some suspect the Vatican views the episode in positive terms. Yet, the Ma Daqin affair raises a major question. Has Benedict XVI’s Letter to Chinese Catholics (which describes the Patriotic Association as “incompatible with Catholic doctrine”) been abolished? If it has, who did it? A journey of compromises without truth is full of risks.


    CHINA – VATICAN
    Mgr Ma Daqin: the text of his “confession”

    Mons. Taddeo Ma Daqin

    Four years after quitting the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, the bishop of Shanghai “admits” his faults on his blog, praising the organisation that controls the Church. We publish his article, almost in its entirety. Translation by AsiaNews.


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