Revision of the China Principles (2010-2014)

In 2010, after 10 years of applying the China Principles, and being aware of international developments related to cultural heritage, SACH and China ICOMOS undertook to revise and expand the thematic content with the participation of the Getty Conservation Institute. The aim of the revision was twofold: to update and clarify the principles in light of recent thinking and practice in China and to better reflect the broad understanding that now prevails internationally as to what constitutes cultural heritage. The process of revision was mainly carried out by China ICOMOS, with a committee of Chinese professionals including academics from Tsinghua University and Peking University in Beijing, Xi'an University of Architecture and Technology, and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The revision was initiated by Tong Mingkang, President of China ICOMOS and deputy director-general of SACH.

Workshop in the United States
The GCI organized a workshop in the United States for core members of the committee charged with revising the Principles. The workshop explored the concepts of historic cultural landscapes, living heritage sites, memorial sites, cultural routes, and industrial and scientific heritage through a series of site visits, meetings, and discussions in Hawaii and the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas.

Among the US heritage places selected were examples of twentieth century industrial heritage adaptively re-used (Ford Assembly Plant in Richmond) and sites of technological and scientific importance (the astronomical observatory on Mt Wilson established in 1904 and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, both of which continue to serve a scientific and public role while being recognized as historic landmarks). The USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor was visited as an example of a memorial that both commemorates and interprets a highly significant event in the nation's history and memorializes those who died there. Alcatraz Island illustrated aspects of social and cultural history and, like Rancho Camulos, a rancho-era cultural landscape north of Los Angeles, it is a place where history and legend merge in the narratives of Hollywood and popular culture.

The role of cultural routes in linking the history of large geographical areas was represented by California's El Camino Real and its twenty-one Spanish missions, including San Juan Capistrano, which was visited by the group. Native Hawaiian heritage sites and historic Chinese-American districts and places of memory such as the immigration station on Angel Island in San Francisco are examples of heritage that challenge our distinctions between living and lived heritage. The Presidio in San Francisco provided an unusual example of public-private partnerships and mixed use of a historic landmark and former military establishment.

These and other places visited during the course of the two-week workshop illustrated the full sweep of heritage sites within the context of the history of the west coast of the United States and Hawaii. They provided examples of varied and complex management structures and methods of protection, interpretation, and visitor management that served as a stimulus for considering the revised China Principles.

The revisions to the Principles were completed in 2013, with final editing and translation into English completed in 2014 and early 2015.

The revised Principles include commentary on articles and a glossary of terms, as well as an extensive foreword by Tong Mingkang on developments in cultural heritage conservation in China over the past two decades.

Page last updated: October 2015