China vows stronger protection for West Lake

Updated: 2011-06-25 08:16


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China vows stronger protection for West Lake

Tourists are seen in the West Lake June 23, 2011. [Photo/Xinhua] 

HANGZHOU - The government of Hangzhou in East China's Zhejiang province pledged greater protection for West Lake soon after the renowned resort was listed as a World Heritage site on Friday.

"Hangzhou will work out plans to better protect West Lake in accordance with the principles of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage," said Wang Guoping, who is in charge of the World Heritage application program for West Lake.

The West Lake scenic spot in eastern resort city of Hangzhou was inscribed into the World Heritage List on Friday at the ongoing 35th session of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee in Paris.

West Lake, located to the west of Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province, is a renowned tourist attraction not only for its picturesque landscape but also for its association with Chinese cultures embodied with historic scholars and national heroes.

The World Heritage Committee said it made the decision in recognition of the West Lake surroundings as an extraordinary model of cultural landscape, which reflects Chinese philosophy and aesthetics and inspires park designing art all over the world.

According to the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, the preparatory work for West Lake's World Heritage inscription began in 1990, and has been further promoted since 2008.

"The ultimate goal of applying for the world heritage status is to protect and sustain West Lake," said Wang, also director of the standing committee of the Hangzhou municipal people's congress, the local legislative body.

The inscription of West Lake in the World Heritage List brought fresh concerns over its protection against excessive exploitation.

The Hangzhou government said it would continue a policy since 2002 to open West Lake's over 130 tourist spots to the public free of charge.

In the meantime, the government promised to protect the West Lake region against commercial development such as housing projects.

Each year, some 30 million tourists swarm to West Lake, posing a heavy burden for the resort. In 2009, the Taiziwan Park in the West Lake area, considered as the most beautiful park in China, received 720,000 visitors within only 20 days in an area no larger than three football pitches.

The Hangzhou government has taken various measures to ward off the negative impact brought by excessive tourism.

The government has recently approved a draft plan to control the number of vehicles and tourists entering the scenic spots.

The government also appealed local citizens to stay away from those over-crowded sites during major holidays.

"Being visited by too many tourists is a common problem that faces the World Cultural Heritages," said Zhu Renmin, director of the Hangzhou Pan Tianshou Environment Design & Research Institute.

"Protecting the West Lake is an eternal theme and today marks a starting point for Hangzhou to continue the protection work," Wang Guoping said.

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