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November 4, 2009

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Xi'an market has Heritage ambition

AUTHORITIES in Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, are hoping the ruins of a 1,300-year-old market will be inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List as a landmark along the ancient Silk Road.

The West Market, known as the starting point of the famous trade route that linked Asia and Europe, had been included in the transnational application for the Silk Road and major historical sites along the route for the World Heritage list, said Lu Jianzhong, owner of Datang Xishi Museum, a privately run concern of the ancient market.

The joint application, by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, would be submitted to UNESCO in 2011, Lu said.

The market is one of the 48 nominees along the Chinese section of the 7,000-kilometer Silk Road for the application. Other sites include the ruins of ancient cities, temples, imperial mausoleums and grottoes in Henan, Shaanxi, Gansu and Qinghai provinces, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

As the starting point of the route, the West Market was an important heritage site for China and the world, said Michael Petzet, former president of the International Council of Monuments and Sites, who was in Xi'an for a forum on heritage preservation.

China's conservation of the West Market ruins was also exemplary, he said.

It is the first such site in China to be preserved with private funds. Lu hoped his museum would help excavate and preserve the market, dating from the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD).

Archaeologists believe most market buildings, are still buried under Xi'an.


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