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Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray

11 May 2003

Australia Helps with Better Care for China's Heritage


China celebrated for its impressive cultural heritage, has taken a major step towards better protecting its ancient heritage sites with the launch of the 'China Charter' in Melbourne today.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, the Hon Dr Sharman Stone, said the Charter, or Principles for the Conservation of Heritage Sites in China, was the result of more than five years of collaborative effort by the Chinese State Administration of Cultural Heritage, the Australian Heritage Commission and the Getty Conservation Institute.

In launching the bilingual publication at Melbourne's Chinese Museum, Dr Stone said the Charter provided China with a blueprint for conserving and managing its outstanding cultural heritage sites, some which date back more than 5000 years.

"The Charter's principles are already being used at two of China's World Heritage sites - the 18th century Imperial Summer Mountain Resort at Chengde in the north of the country and the Buddhist caves and temples of Mogao in China's north-west," Dr Stone said.

"It is China's first set of guidelines for the conservation and management of heritage places and is tailor-made for China's rich and varied culture," she said. "It has long been needed by heritage experts working on Chinese sites both in and outside China."

"The charter was inspired by Australia's own Burra Charter for the conservation of places of cultural significance, which was developed in 1979 by ICOMOS to help to conserve Australia's cultural heritage places. Australia is proud that it has been able to help China in this way."

"Whilst the publication is directed at mainland China it will have relevance for Chinese sites around the world. Australia has a long-standing connection with China. For example, during the gold rush days Chinese people made up a large part of the Victorian population," Dr Stone said.

"This document not only takes into account the protection of the sites themselves, but also looks at modern issues which bedevil ancient sites such as tourism, pollution, the encroachment of development and the sustainable use of the site."

Dr Stone said the development of the China Charter was a fine achievement that reflected the success of the Memorandum of Understanding on cultural heritage cooperation that was signed between the Australian Heritage Commission, Environment Australia and the Chinese State Administration for Cultural Heritage in 1999.

"Both Mr Deng Zhong Hua, the Deputy Consul-General of the People's Republic of China and I look forward to more of these outstanding outcomes from the MOU," Dr Stone said.

The document is available online at www.getty.edu/conservation/resources/china_prin.pdf

Further Information:
Anna Hughes (Dr Stone's office) 0408 697 055

Commonwealth of Australia