VII.48 Potala Palace in Lhasa (People's Republic of China)
The Secretariat reported that pressures of urban development and growth in tourism-related activities are resulting in many construction acti vi ties in the historic sector of Lhasa with a negative impact on historic structures and their authenticity. Furthermore, in Shol, the former administrative area of Potala Palace, which is part of the World Heritage protected area, the works undertaken on the historic buildings and the widening of the streets risk causing irreversible changes to the historic character of this area.
The mural paintings of Potala are threatened by humidity, the application of lacquer varnish in the 1960s and 70s, alteration of the original appearance due to excessive "retouching", and smoke from yak butter lamps. It was noted that, under the China-Norway-UNESCO cooperative project for the preservation of Tibetan cultural properties, a training course on mural painting restoration techniques has been proposed and is now pending approval by the Chinese authorities.
The Committee was informed that the Delegate of China to the Committee, attending the twentieth extraordinary session of the Bureau as observer, indicated that the preservation of Tibetan cultural heritage has been one of the highest priorities of China. He expressed his Government's appreciation for the UNESCO World Heritage Centre's technical assistance and the mobilization of international cooperation to support the Government's preservation efforts. He indicated that the Chinese authorities were in favour of the extension of the Potala Palace World Heritage Site to include Jokhang Temple and the surrounding historic area, as recommended by the Committee. He also informed the Bureau that the proposed China-Norway-UNESCO cooperative project, in which a mural painting restoration training course is planned, is being carefully examined by the Chinese authorities.
The Representative of ICCROM and a number of Bureau members offered their expertise and interest in participating in mural painting conservation activities.
The Committee took note of the report of the Secretariat, and:
(a) encouraged the Chinese authorities to strengthen cooperation with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre's Programme for the Safeguarding and Development of Historic Cities of Asia, notably in the re-evaluation of the Lhasa Urban Master Plan to integrate the preservation of the historic urban fabric as part of the overall urban development plan, and to develop technical guidelines on conservation practice of historic buildings;
(b) encouraged the Chinese authorities to strengthen international cooperation in mural painting conservation activities and in other fields in the preservation of Tibetan cultural heritage within the framework of the World Heritage Convention;
(c) encouraged the Chinese authorities to consider the extension of the World Heritage protected area to cover Jokhang Temple and the historic centre of Barkor, as recommended by the Committee at its eighteenth session in December 1994.