Committee Decisions

31 COM 8B.25

Nomination of natural, mixed and cultural properties to the world heritage list - Kaiping Diaolou and Villages

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-07/31.COM/8B and WHC-07/31.COM/INF.8B.1,

2. Inscribes the Kaiping Diaolou and Villages, China, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (ii), (iii) and (iv);

3. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

The Diaolou and their surrounding villages demonstrate Outstanding Universal Value for their complex and confident fusion between Chinese and western architectural styles, for their final flowering of local tower building traditions, for their completeness and unaltered state resulting from their short life span as fortified dwellings and their comparative abandonment and for harmonious relationship with their agricultural landscape.

Criterion (ii): The Diaolou represent in dramatic physical terms an important interchange of human values - architectural styles brought back from North America by returning Chinese and fused with local rural traditions - within a particular cultural area of the world.

Criterion (iii): The building of defensive towers was a local tradition in the Kaiping area since Ming times in response to local banditry. The nominated Diaolou represent the final flourishing of this tradition, in which the conspicuous wealth of the retuning Chinese contributed to the spread of banditry and their towers were an extreme response.

Criterion (iv): The main towers, with their settings and through their flamboyant display of wealth, are a type of building that reflects the significant role played by émigré Kaiping people in the development of several countries in South Asia, Australasia, and North America, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the continuing links between the Kaiping community and Chinese communities in these parts of the world.

The wholeness and intactness of the nominated properties are evident insofar as all the elements that express their values are still in place; the size of each of the properties is adequate as the features and processes that convey the significance are fully represented in the towers and their surrounding villages of small houses and farmland. The nominated Diaolou, their surrounding village houses, and the agricultural landscape are all authentic, apart from certain houses in Sanmenli Village.

Since 2001, all the Diaolou are protected as national monuments under the Law for the Protection of Cultural Relics, 1982 and also covered by Provincial and Municipal Regulations. A buffer zone has been established. The overall state of conservation of the Diaolou is good; the state of conservation of village houses and the agricultural landscape is reasonable. No extensive conservation works have been undertaken. Nevertheless minor repair works, are carried out where necessary, and inappropriate building interventions have been reversed. A Management Plan for the nominated property has been drawn up by Beijing University under the auspices of the People's Government of Kaiping City. It has been implemented since 2005.

4. Requests the protection of the wider setting of the Diaolou and their surrounding villages through sustaining their agricultural, pastoral and forestry uses;

5. Recommends that the State Party give consideration to the following:

     a) Reinforced preventive measures to address the main threats from decay, uncontrolled tourism and development.

     b) Research into appropriate repairs for the massed concrete of their construction.

     c) Introduction of active preventive conservation measures in towers open to the public.

     d) Proactive encouragement for the use of traditional building materials and techniques for village houses.

e) Monitoring of the condition of building interiors and associated moveable elements as well as the visual setting of the Diaolou.

PDF Original Decision Document
Context of Decision
PDF WHC-07/31.COM/8B
States Parties: China
Session: 31COM