1.         Temple of Heaven: an Imperial Sacrificial Altar in Beijing (China) (C 881)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1998

Criteria  (i)(ii)(iii)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/881/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/881/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

July 2002: World Heritage Centre mission 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Erosion due to air pollution (issue resolved)

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/881/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2003

The urban transformation that Beijing is undergoing to meet the requirements for hosting the 2008 Olympic Games, and its impact on the cultural heritage in Beijing, including World Heritage properties, has been a subject of concern to the international community and UNESCO. The World Heritage Centre has been informed through various international sources, UNESCO Field Office representatives and press articles that the on-going development projects in Beijing were leading to a major renewal of the historic and traditional residential districts immediately surrounding the World Heritage protective buffer zones of the Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, notably Nanchizi Street.

On 6 November 2002, the Director of the Centre expressed concern to the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China (SACH) and the Beijing Municipal Government and further requested the authorities to examine this issue to protect the irreplaceable cultural heritage of Beijing. In particular, the WHC requested information concerning the state of conservation and development pressures facing the following World Heritage sites which are located in the urban areas of Beijing: The Imperial Palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties;  Temple of Heaven: an Imperial Sacrificial Altar in Beijing; Summer Palace: an Imperial Garden in Beijing.

During his mission to China in July 2002, the Director of the World Heritage Centre consulted the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Cultural Relics, which focused on the on-going rehabilitation projects in Beijing being undertaken in the immediate vicinity of the World Heritage protective buffer zones of the property. The mission was assured that the authorities would take appropriate action to protect the historic fabric of Beijing surrounding the World Heritage properties of the Imperial Palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace.

On 4 April 2003, the World Heritage Centre received a response from the Director-General of the SACH, informing that the most controversial project was the renovation of Nanchizi traditional streets within the World Heritage property's buffer zone, which is beyond the scope of protection under the World Heritage Convention. As a territorial management policy has been adopted in China relative to the conservation of the World Heritage properties, SACH welcomed and supported the Centre and UNESCO to further discuss, research and co-operate on the case of Nanchizi and other similar old street renovation projects. The authorities further noted that the Nanchizi project is an experimental case in Beijing, and principles and methodologies could be compared, studied and upgraded in the future for similar historic quarters. The authorities also underscored that the inscription on the World Heritage List has intensified the protection of cultural heritage values of these three properties, and that the scope of management and protection have improved.

To demonstrate this policy for enhanced conservation of the World Heritage properties in question, SACH highlighted some development projects with large investments which have contributed to the conservation of the World Heritage values of these properties: (i) At the Summer Palace, there was a large-scale proposal to construct a high-pressure power supply line through the buffer zone to improve the power supply to Beijing. To safeguard the integrity of the World Heritage property, the Beijing Municipal Government revised this proposal from a US$6 million overland supply line project to a US$60 million underground one; (ii) In the northeast corner of the protective buffer zone of the Temple of Heaven, there was a modern flower market covering 20,000 square meters and housing more than 1,000 souvenir shops. To maintain the historical feature of this World Heritage property, the Beijing Municipal Government invested US$11 million to relocate the market and turn the original market place into a "green land"; (iii) After the Qing Dynasty collapsed, the area surrounding the Forbidden City was developed without coherence. As a result of great efforts in recent years, many modern buildings that were not in harmony with the heritage of the Forbidden City were removed, resulting in the recovery of the splendour and magnificence of the property. At present, the 6.8 square kilometer area around the World Heritage property of the Imperial Palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties has been designated as an imperial city protection zone, and a protection plan has been developed.

The UNESCO Office in Beijing met on 28 March and 16 April 2003 with the Vice Mayor and the Mayor of Beijing Municipality respectively, regarding the protection of cultural heritage in Beijing. The Beijing Municipality informed UNESCO on the actions undertaken concerning the protection of Beijing's Old City. The Director of the UNESCO Beijing Office expressed UNESCO's willingness to reinforce co-operation with the City of Beijing, especially to share UNESCO'S experience in the field of conservation of World Heritage historic cities. As an immediate outcome of this consultation, UNESCO was invited to support a project entitled "Policy Research on the Conservation and Renewal Process of Yan Dai Xie Jie Area", which is located outside the World Heritage properties. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

N/A

Decision Adopted: 27 COM 7B.43

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Expressing concern regarding the urban development pressure in Beijing, and the renewal of the historic and traditional urban fabric of the historic city, 

2. Requests the State Party to strengthen the legal provision for the protection of the buffer zones of these World Heritage properties;

3. Encourages the Chinese authorities to continue their efforts to protect the urban historic fabric of Beijing surrounding the World Heritage properties of the Imperial Palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace;

4. Further encourages the Chinese authorities to review and update the management plans for these properties, taking into due consideration the heritage conservation and development needs of the local communities;

5. Requests UNESCO and the World Heritage Centre to provide technical assistance to the Chinese authorities to review and update the existing management plans for their World Heritage properties, including the case of Nanchizi and other similar conservation and other rehabilitation projects in the historic quarters of Beijing, to ensure long-term comprehensive management;

6. Requests the State Party to submit a progress report to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2004, on measures taken to enhance the conservation and presentation of the World Heritage properties and including an assessment of the remaining traditional architecture in the buffer zone in order that the World Heritage Committee can examine the state of conservation of the property at its 28th session in 2004.