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World Heritage Preservation in China

With changes taking place in social and economic conditions, a growing number of ancient ethnic traditions, cultures, customs, modes of living and environments are suffering from increasing serious threats of destruction. It is detrimental not only to unique and precious cultural heritage but also to the historical, social and psychology dignity of local nationalities. On November 6, 1972, the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at its 17th session adopted the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. In 1976, UNESCO set up the World Heritage Committee, an inter-governmental cooperative body, under the Convention. The committee is responsible for including cultural and natural treasures of outstanding universal value on the World Heritage List.

World heritage is divided into three types: natural, cultural (including cultural sites) and the combination of natural and cultural heritage. All sites on the World Heritage List receive financial and technical aid. In the meantime, they become better known worldwide and are protected by pressure from the international community.

China ratified the Convention in 1985, becoming a contracting party, and became a member state of the World Heritage Committee on October 29, 1999. In 1986, China began to identify and nominate sites on its national territory to be considered for inscription on the World Heritage List. So far, the number of its sites on the List has reached 40.

Nomination and inclusion of natural and cultural properties on the World Heritage List is nonetheless the final goal of world heritage work. World Heritage conservation is a continuous process. Listing a site does little good if it subsequently falls into a state of disrepair or if a development project risks destroying the qualities that made the site suitable for World Heritage status in the first place. The final goal of highlighting those most valuable representatives and carriers of information and beauty throughout history and in our natural environment arouses mankind's attention to protect and preserve them for future generations.


Cultural Heritage


Groups of separate or connected buildings which, because of their architecture, their homogeneity or their place in the landscape, are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science

Groups of buildings:

Architectural works, works of monumental sculpture and painting, elements or structures of an archaeological nature, inscriptions, cave dwellings and combinations of features, which are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science


Works of man or the combined works of nature and of man, and areas including archaeological sites which are of outstanding universal value from the historical, aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological points of view

Natural Heritage
Natural features consisting of physical and biological formations or groups of such formations, which are of outstanding universal value from an aesthetic or scientific point of view.Geological and physiographical formations and precisely delineated areas which constitute the habitat of threatened species of animals and plants of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation. Natural sites or precisely delineated natural areas of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science, conservation or natural beauty.

List of World Heritage Sites in China

NumberNameLocationCategoryApproved date
1Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, including the Forbidden
City and Mukden Palace
2Peking Man Site at ZhoukoudianBeijingCultural1987
3Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in BeijingBeijingCulturalCultural
4Temple of Heaven: an Imperial Sacrificial Altar in BeijingBeijingCulturalCultural
5Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, including the Ming
Dynasty Tombs and the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum
6The Great WallBeijing etcCultural1987
7Mausoleum of the First Qin EmperorShaanxiCultural1987
8Mogao CavesGansuCultural1987
9Mount TaishanShandongCultural
10Temple and Cemetery of Confucius, and the Kong Family Mansion in QufuShandongCultural1994
11Mount HuangshanAnhuiCultural
12Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui - Xidi and HongcunAnhuiCultural2000
13Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest AreaSichuanNatural1992
14Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest AreaSichuanNatural1992
15Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic AreaSichuanCultural
16Mount Qingcheng and the Dujiangyan Irrigation SystemSichuanCultural2000
17Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries-Wolong, Mt. Siguniang and Jiajin MountainsSichuanNatural2006
18Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest AreaHunanCultural1992
19Ancient Building Complex in the Wudang MountainsHubeiCultural1994
20Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, including the Jokhang Temple and NorbulingkaHebeiCultural1994
21Mountain Resort and its Outlying Temples in ChengdeHebeiCultural1994
22Lushan National ParkJiangxiNatural1996
24Mount WutaiShanxiCultural2009
25Ancient City of Ping YaoShanxiCultural1997
26Yungang GrottoesShanxiCultural2001
27Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected AreasYunnanNatural2003
28South China KarstYunnan,Guizhou,
29Old Town of LijiangYunnanCultural1997
30Dazu Rock CarvingsChongqingCultural1999
31Classical Gardens of SuzhouJiangsuCultural1997
32Mount WuyiFujianCultural
33Fujian TulouFujianCultural2008
34Longmen GrottoesHenanCultural2000
35Yin XuHenanCultural2006
36Historic Monuments of Dengfeng in The Centre of Heaven and EarthHenanCultural2010
37Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo KingdomJilinCultural2004
38Historic Centre of MacauMacauCultural2005
39Kaiping Diaolou and VillagesGuangdongCultural2007
40China DanxiaHunan,Guangdong,
41West Lake Cultural Landscape of HangzhouZhejiang provinceCultural2011

Site of Xanadu

Inner MongoliaCultural2012
43Chengjiang Fossil SiteYunnan provinceNatural2012