According to a couple of articles that came out in years past, the Silk Road has been undergoing a long-term application process to become a World Heritage site. That means, according to one article, that sites and cultural relics along the Silk Road would have to be improved and protected,and adovacated for tourism. Apparently, in 2006, “more than 50 experts and heritage officials from UNESCO and China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan reached an agreement for a multinational application for Silk Road in UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List.”
Going further, it would mean that the Chinese section of the Silk Road, specifically, the Oasis, or Northern, Route of the Silk Road, which includes Kashgar as a main oasis point, would be deemed a “cultural route,” which UNESCO defines in terms of “space (the route ran through sites, monuments, constructions, buildings, ways, and areas of influence); time (the beginning and end of its use, its frequency, intensity and variations) and cultural criteria (impact of spiritual and/or material exchanges; impact on human memory or experience, impact of the volume and nature of the exchanges).”
This project has been going on for quite some time, though it has not completely been approved yet.In 2006, a workshop was held in Turpan, Xinjiang in order to discuss the issue of nominating the Silk Road to World Heritage status, and to layout some ground plans for how to prepare the nomination. It was attended by members of the UNESCO World Heritage team, as well as experts and officials from Central Asian countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and China, all of whom hold a stake in profiting from Silk Route protection and tourism. The mission of this workshop was to “develop a systematic approach towards the identification and nomination of the Chinese section of the Silk Road, and in particular the Oasis Route which, together with the Steppe Route and the Maritime Route, is one of three intercultural routes along the Silk Road., that will tell the story of the Chinese Silk Road in a comprehensive manner.”
Clearly, despite the efforts of international organizations, Kashgar is not being preserved well. What should be asked is: IS China’s current plan to demolish 85% of Old Kashgar legal within the parameters stipulated by the nomination of the Oasis Route of the Silk Road to the World Heritage Site list? Will the demolition threaten the nomination? Should it threaten the nomination? If Old Kashgar is destroyed, wouldn’t it cheapen the overall affect and “comprehensive manner” in which the Chinese section of the Silk Road should be presented to the public?
Or is there, as I’m afraid there might be, some loophole in which a site along the Silk Road can be destroyed and rebuilt, as long as it is rebuilt with attention paid to how the site SHOULD look? If this is the angle that China is trying to play, I’d like to know exactly what they are going to do to keep true to how Old Kashgar looked in the past, and how they are going to do it.