Cross-straight work needed for World Heritage status: minister
By Katherine Wei , The China Post
December 13, 2013, 12:13 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) yesterday proposed at the Legislature that Taiwan and China should collaborate to apply for World Heritage status for many of Taiwan's historical and nature sites due to the island's lack of legal stature.
Taiwan has been trying to apply for World Heritage Site accreditations for several years already, but was continually denied the opportunity as Taiwan is not a member-state of the United Nations. According to Lung, the goal should be merged into collaborative projects managed by the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF, 海基會) and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS, 海協會).
The Legislature questioned Lung's proposal, bringing up the possibility that the spots would be listed as China's World Heritage Sites instead of as Taiwan's. Lung stated that she would never permit such a result, which is why the situation calls for negotiations between both sides of the strait. “Taiwan's tourist spots should be able to become world-class heritage sites under the premise of equality and respect. I believe that the (World Heritage) issue should be able to sidestep traditional ideology,” said Lung.
But why would she choose China as a partner in applying for the much-coveted title? “After putting political differences aside, Taiwan and China share the same history, memories and affections; these will inevitably be brought up in the application procedure,” Lung noted. “It really is the best choice to apply for the status with China; political aspects are not taken into consideration.”
The Ministry of Culture's Bureau of Cultural Heritage has since 2002 published lists of the country's tourist attractions with the aim of their gaining approval as World Heritage sites. There are 18 listed so far, including Taroko National Park, Matsu Battlefield and the cypress forests of Cilan Mountain.
Negotiations First: Lung
Although Taiwan is not a current member of the U.N. and thus not qualified to apply for World Heritage status for its sites, Lung hopes to realize the actual potential of the 18 sites by negotiating for a joint application with China. “There are many issues yet to be discussed and solved, but the topic can be broached first.”
The issue also brings up the power and responsibilities of international organizations and relevant groups, said Wu Mei-hung (吳美紅), spokeswoman of the Executive Yuan's Mainland Affairs Council. “The government insists that all cross-strait negotiations should be equal and fair to both sides,” Wu added.
A World Heritage Site is a place (such as a forest, mountain, lake, island, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as of special cultural or physical significance.