On occasion of the 20th anniversary of Macao’s Handover to China, “The International Symposium of the Maritime Silk Road” was presented by the Secretariat for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao SAR Government and the National Cultural Heritage Administration (NCHA) of China, with the organisation of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macao SAR Government, the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage and the Guangzhou Office for the World Heritage Nomination of the Maritime Silk Road, in order to facilitate the nomination of the Maritime Silk Road for inscription on the World Heritage List and to deepen the foundation for academic research on its universal value and conservation, and to enable a more complete appreciation for Macao as an important location and platform along the historic Maritime Silk Road, also revealing Macao as a place where Chinese culture prevails and other cultures flourish in harmony. This important symposium was initiated on 6 November, at 9am, at the Macau Tower Convention & Entertainment Centre, where various experts from China and abroad gathered to foster academic research in regard to the intended nomination of the Maritime Silk Road to the World Heritage List, with the event also featuring the signing of a cooperation agreement.
The symposium was officiated by the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Alexis Tam Chon Weng; the Deputy Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government of China in the Macao SAR, Xue Xiaofeng; the Deputy Director of the National Cultural Heritage Administration of China, Gu Yucai; the Head of the Division of General Affairs of the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in the Macao SAR, Zhang Jian; the Vice Mayor of the Guangzhou Municipal People's Government of China, Wang Dong; the President of the Cultural Affairs Bureau, Mok Ian Ian; the President of the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage, Chai Xiaoming; the Deputy Director of the Department for the Protection of Monuments, Sites and Archaeology of the National Cultural Heritage Administration of China, Liu Yang; the Deputy Director of the Department of Culture and Tourism of Guangdong Province, Zeng Yingru; the Vice President of the Cultural Affairs Bureau, Leong Wai Man; and the Secretary General of The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), Peter Philips.
The signing ceremony of a cooperation agreement was also held during the symposium, in reference to the Agreement on Facilitating Heritage Conservation and the World Heritage List Nomination of the Maritime Silk Road, signed by the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Alexis Tam Chon Weng and the Deputy Director of the NCHA, Gu Yucai. This high-level agreement serves to assist further cooperation in the field of cultural heritage for the Maritime Silk Road, reinforcing the preservation of the cultural heritage and facilitating its nomination for inscription on the World Heritage List.
Authoritative experts and scholars from around the world were invited to attend the symposium and made presentations on several topics, ranging from “The Maritime Silk Road Nomination to the World Heritage List”, “The Formation and System of the Maritime Silk Road”, “The Maritime Silk Road and its Underwater Archaeology” and “The Cultural Exchange between the Connecting Countries and their Respective Heritage”. The symposium was held in a lively atmosphere and attracted over 100 participants from different sectors, including government representatives from members of the Cities Alliance, experts and scholars from China and abroad specialised in cultural heritage preservation and the Maritime Silk Road, members of the Cultural Heritage Committee and the Cultural Consultative Committee of Macao, professors and students from local higher education institutions, as well as members from local cultural heritage preservation associations and professional and youth associations in relevant fields.
During the symposium, the Secretary General of ICOMOS, Peter Philips, referred the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage as a starting point and mentioned the conditions, the significance and the importance of the nomination of the Maritime Silk Road for inscription on the World Heritage List. The President of the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage, Chai Xiaoming analysed and elaborated further on the Maritime Silk Road system from various perspectives. Associate Professor Jun Kimura from Tokai University in Japan presented research results on the archaeological heritage of trade along the Maritime Silk Road. Researcher Wan Ming from the Institute of History of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences shared his research findings on the rise of Macao and on the maritime silver road. The symposium allowed participating experts and scholars to exchange their views and insights on a deeper level and to share relevant academic research connected to the intended nomination of the Maritime Silk Road for inscription on the World Heritage List.
As an important transitional point alongside the historic Maritime Silk Road, Macao has been actively working to achieve this nomination since 2015, in the context of an initiative that is presided by the National Cultural Heritage Administration of China, having joined the Cities Alliance of the Maritime Silk Road Conservation and World Heritage Nomination, since May 2019. The organisers hope that the symposium can strengthen the technical support of the nomination with further academic research on related topics, also putting in evidence the positive role of Macao in the field of cultural heritage preservation, sustainable development, and the further integration into the “One Belt and One Road” development plan, thereby also accomplishing the goals set forward by the “One Centre, One Platform” policy.