Gateway to Maritime Silk Road NEWS


Gateway to Maritime Silk Road


More states join key Asian alliance

BY :丝路云帆

UPDATED :2024-02-05

A guide (right) introduces a Buddhist sculpture replicated by 3D printing at a Dunhuang-themed exhibition in Beijing. (Photo by Wu Yibin for China Daily)

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the General Assembly of the Alliance for Cultural Heritage in Asia (ACHA) on April 25, 2023.

Xi noted that as an important cradle of human civilization, Asia has nurtured and is home to an immeasurable wealth of cultural heritage, writing a splendid chapter in the annals of world civilizations.

The establishment of the alliance is conducive to protecting Asian cultural heritage and deepening exchanges among Asian civilizations, while making the garden of world civilizations more flourishing and contributing to the progress of human civilization, he stressed.

Within the framework of the alliance, China is willing to work with all Asian countries to strengthen experience sharing on cultural heritage preservation, promote international cooperation in the cultural heritage sector, and establish a network for dialogue and cooperation among civilizations, said Xi.

He added that China is ready to join hands with Asian countries to promote mutual understanding, forge closer bonds between peoples of different countries, and jointly promote the progress of human civilization.

The general assembly was held in Xi'an, Shaanxi province on April 25, 2023. It was jointly hosted by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the National Cultural Heritage Administration and the Shaanxi Provincial People's Government.

This is the first large-scale, high-level international conference organized offline since the launch of the alliance.

Azerbaijan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka became the new member states of the ACHA, during its council meeting on April 24, which was hosted by China in Xi'an. Bangladesh, Singapore, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam became the ACHA's observer states.

The alliance now has 13 member states and five observers.

In 2021, during the Asian Dialogue for Cultural Heritage Conservation hosted by China via online platforms, 10 countries — including China — jointly initiated the ACHA.

The other nine founding members are Armenia, Cambodia, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

The alliance has already drawn up a concrete cooperation road map. From 2023 to 2024, the ACHA will support member states to carry out joint archaeological research programs and nomination of World Heritage Sites along the ancient Silk Road and Maritime Silk Road, according to Li Liusan, director of China Academy of Cultural Heritage and executive secretary-general of the ACHA.

Some past attempts have provided references for the future. In Sri Lanka, a series of joint research projects with China is underway, with the focus on ancient Chinese mariner Zheng He from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the ancient Maritime Silk Road.

Zheng He Stele in Sri Lanka

"We hope to organize more collaborative projects with China and other countries in the future," said Vidura Wickramanayaka, Sri Lanka's minister of Buddhasasana, religious and cultural affairs.

Porcelain pieces unearthed in Sri Lanka

"This important conference is identified as one such milestone that leads toward a strong cultural collaboration among the member countries," he said.

Sources: Xinhua, China Daily, 社科院考古所中国考古网

Editor: Annie, Pauline