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Experts gather for world heritage talks

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China is celebrating its famed world heritage sites - its great archeological wonders as well as its intangible cultural heritage, ranging from operas and folk songs to textiles.

The International Symposium on World Heritage Conservation opened yesterday in the city, attracting 100 domestic and foreign experts for three days of talks on enhancing heritage conservation.

The Conservation Prize for Asian-Pacific Heritage by UNESCO is to be awarded tonight.

"Given globalization and urbanization, the conservation of heritage should be a task for the whole society," said Du Yue, vice secretary-general of Chinese National Commission for the UNESCO.

UNESCO's World Heritage list includes 812 sites in more than 130 countries.

With 31 World Heritage sites, China ranks third, after Italy and Spain.

"The value of World Heritage sites lies in their being the best representative of a traditional way of life," said Giovanni Boccardi, a UNESCO official.

Over five years, China has invested 7.9 billion yuan, (US$987.50 million) on cultural heritage protection. The country now has 2,351 historic sites and 518 types of intangible cultural heritage, such as operas, folk story telling and textiles.

Shanghai's nine intangible heritages are "luogushu," a traditional storytelling art accompanied by gongs and drums; Gu-style family embroidery, textile techniques from Songjiang District, Huju Opera, Peking Opera, Yueju Opera, Kunqu Opera, bamboo carving from Jiading District and "sizhu" (silk and bamboo) instrumental ensembles from south of the Yangtze River.

China will celebrate its first national "Cultural Heritage Day" this Saturday. Admission to 60 relics sites and museums will be free on that day.

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