Are the Criteria for World Heritage Changing?

Is the international beauty contest of natural and historical wonders also becoming an international platform for moral redress against the crimes of others?   Is Heritage itself being redefined? 

From  China Radio International (  

Unit 731 Ruins: World Heritage or Not?

    2010-07-15 10:38:27      Web Editor: Zhang Xu

China wants to turn the ruins of Unit 731, a camp where the Japanese Army conducted grisly human experiments as part of its germ warfare program, into a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. However, the application has aroused debate in China, the China Business Times reports.  

According to the report, Unit 731 was based in the Pingfang District of Harbin in northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, and the use of its biological weapons during World War II resulted in possibly as many as 200,000 deaths of military personnel and civilians in China. The authorities of Pingfang District plan to triple the size of its Unit 731 memorial and turn it into a park to be registered as a World Heritage Site.  

”]The report noted that the ruins still fall short in several key requirements for the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, and local authorities are stepping up efforts to meet the requirements.  

Jin Chenmin, an expert on modern history, told the newspaper that the Unit 731 ruins should become a base for worldwide anti-fascist education.  

“The ruins meet the list’s criteria, as it is associated with events of outstanding universal significance, just as Auschwitz in Poland and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in Japan are on the World Heritage Site list. As the world’s largest germ warfare program site, Unit 731 should also qualify since the remaining ruins can serve as a reminder of the horrible atrocities Japanese troops committed in China” Jin said.  

However, a news commentator named Yan Yang disagreed with the application, considering the Unit 731 ruins as an evil legacy.  

“The Unit 731 ruins reflect bloody culture and it is not proper to list it as World Heritage.” Yan said.  

The report also said that some experts thought that the local authorities’ main motive in applying may be the tourism and economic effects of becoming a World Heritage Site.  

*   *   *  

And note that one of the proporties being presented for inscription to the World Heritage List this summer is Bikini Atoll.  



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