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Wildlife and lovely landscapes of Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve

10 July 2017

Tibetan activist groups say that the Unesco move, announced over the weekend, will give Beijing cover to relocate Tibetan nomads out of the area.

"UNESCO is supposed to uphold and safeguard the world's culture, but this shameful decision will do exactly the opposite and will ultimately assist China in denying Tibetans their fundamental rights", Pema Yoko, executive director of advocacy group Students for a Free Tibet, said in a statement.

The inscription of Kulangsu came on the heels of Qinghai Hoh Xil, which was inscribed on the list only one day earlier, making China the country with most World Heritage sites. Covering an area of 45,000 square kilometers, at an average elevation of 4,600 meters, it is home to several endangered species, including the Tibetan antelope. There are also large Tibetan communities in neighbouring provinces like Qinghai and Sichuan.

With these two latest additions, China now has 52 World Heritage Sites, comprising of 36 cultural sites, 12 natural sites, and four cultural and natural sites.

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The designation of protected areas does not give UNESCO any powers of enforcement, but has proved to be controversial in areas plagued by conflicting territorial claims.

If Unesco accepts two new applications under consideration, China could become the country with the most heritage sites, surpassing Italy, which has 51.

Kulangsu is a pedestrian-only island off the coast of Xiamen, Fujian Province in southeastern China.

Photo taken on June 28, 2006 shows the Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve. In particular, the organization's report argued that China has declared the region a "no man's zone", discounting the unique environment and the role people play in it.

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A UNESCO spokeswoman said the Chinese Government had made a commitment that no forced relocation would be undertaken.

The report also complained that China's application exempted a two-and-a-half-mile-wide corridor in which a highway and railway bisect the region, allowing unfettered development.

Reports said an worldwide community developed in Kulangsu after Xiamen, among four other Chinese coastal cities, was forced to be open to the United Kingdom after the First Opium War (from 1839 to 1842), and there are now 931 remaining historic architectures and gardens on the island.

Officials in Beijing declined requests to comment on the opposition to its application, but Du Yue, secretary general of China's delegation to Unesco, circulated a letter in Krakow challenging the criticism of the application.

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"From the central government, to the Culture Ministry, to a lot of grass-roots groups, a lot of attention has been given to the work of preservation of cultural and natural relics", he said.

Wildlife and lovely landscapes of Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve