ICOMOS Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting – Shanghai/Beijing, China, 6-11 July 2004

Dear Members and Friends,
Here is some quick news from the 1st ICOMOS Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting. The recent meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Suzhou, China provided the opportunity for the ICOMOS Bureau to meet in China, and to hold the first ever Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting for ICOMOS.The meeting was generously hosted by ICOMOS China and the working sessions were chaired by the ICOMOS International Vice-Presidents for the Asia-Pacific Region Yukio Nishimura (Japan) and Sheridan Burke (Australia).

In addition to the International Bureau, participants included people from China, Japan, Korea, USA (Hawaii), Australia, Thailand, Fiji, New Caledonia and Mexico. Australia ICOMOS was well represented at the meeting joining me in China were Robyn Riddett, Aedeen Cremin, Ray Tonkin, Jonathan Sweet and Qian Fengqi (and of course, International Vice-President, Sheridan Burke). Aedeen Cremin was the able rapporteur for the meeting, and Christophe Sand (New Caledonia) provided the vote of thanks to ICOMOS China on behalf of the participants.

An excellent pre-meeting program was organised in Shanghai. We had the pleasure of visiting the Yuyuan Garden, Moller House, Children’s Palace/Chevalier Kadoorie’s House, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank (in the fabulous Bund area of Shanghai), Shanghai Museum and the water town of Zhu Jia Jiao. We held discussions with colleagues from the Shanghai Museum, and with officials from the Shanghai Municipal Government regarding the mechanisms in place for urban planning and protective listing of historic buildings.

While in Shanghai, we also had the great pleasure of spending time with our colleague Anne Warr, from Sydney, who is now living happily in Shanghai, and added considerably to our enjoyment and understanding of this amazing and fast-changing city.

In Beijing, the ICOMOS International Bureau held their meeting over 2 days, including detailed discussions with ICOMOS China regarding the preparations for the 15th ICOMOS General Assembly next year. We expect further details regarding the arrangements and dates very soon I am sure that many Australia ICOMOS members will be keen to attend.

While the Bureau held its meeting at the hotel, the rest of us were shown some of Beijing’s heritage icons including the Palace Museum, Temple of Heaven, Beihai Garden, the Great Wall (Badaling), Lama Temple, Confucius Temple, and Huguang Guild-hall. For those like me, visiting these places for the first time, these experiences were unforgettable. We also had a discussion session with urban planning and heritage officials from the Beijing Municipal Government.

The 2-day program for the working sessions started with presentations on current activities from the ICOMOS International President (Michael Petzet), Secretary-General (Dinu Bumbaru), Treasurer-General (Giora Solar), and from national committees represented. There was then a series of presentations and discussion of the issues and approaches to managing the setting of heritage places in the region and possible topics and organising ideas for the 15th General Assembly to be held in China in 2005.

There was a very interesting session discussing the development of charters and other guideline documents by ICOMOS committees in Asia. This included very interesting presentations by Michael Petzet (on the Venice Charter) and Zhang Bai (on the development and implementation of the China Principles). There were also brief presentations from two ISCs with particular relevance in the Region CIAV (Vernacular Architecture) and ICORP (Risk Preparedness).

While we were together in China, we also took the opportunity to discuss with the Bureau members and our colleagues from the Pacific Islands, the possibilities for establishing a stronger presence for ICOMOS in that part of our region.

We were exceptionally well looked after by our Chinese hosts in Shanghai and Beijing, including many sumptuous banquets! The tours and discussion sessions were very well planned, and the hot weather was a wonderful respite from the southern winter.

Our warmest thanks to ICOMOS China and to all who made the meeting such a success including the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, Beijing Municipal Bureau of Cultural Heritage, Beijing Municipal Planning Bureau, Shanghai Municipal Government, Shanghai Museum, Tongji University (Shanghai), the many site managers who took time from their work to meet with us, the friendly and talented interpreters, and many others.

The week was a memorable one for all participants, and we happily resolved to meet again as a Regional group next year in association with the General Assembly. Hopefully, we will have an even larger group at that time with many lively discussions.

We are currently collecting the program and papers and will make them available via the Australia ICOMOS website (with a hot link from the International ICOMOS website). Look out for an announcement about the material on the web soon.

Kristal Buckley

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