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China Seeks U.N. Title to Mt. Baekdu

Posted July. 31, 2006 03:04,   


The Chinese Government is hurriedly working on making the world recognize Mt. Baekdu (or Mt. Changbai in Chinese) as Chinese territory.

The Wenhui Newspaper of Hong Kong reported on July 30 that China has decided to register Mt. Baekdu on the World Geopark list designated by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The Jilin Provincial Government of China has so far made efforts to get Mt. Baekdu registered as a world natural heritage site by the year 2008 when Jilin hosts the general assembly of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. It might be fair to call this the “Mt. Baekdu Project” of incorporating the old territory of Goguryeo, an ancient Korean kingdom, into Chinese history, as it follows the Northeast Asia Project that focused on incorporating its history into China’s.

Back in 1980, China got Mt. Baekdu designated as a UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MAB) zone; the State Council designated Mt. Baekdu as a national-level natural protection zone in 1986 and has since managed it.

Mt. Baekdu has long been managed by the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, where people of Korean origin collectively reside. Last year, the Jilin Provincial Government established the “Committee for Protection, Development and Management of Mt. Changbai,” an organization directly belonging to the provincial government and responsible for management of the mountain.

In a meeting with the “First Delegation of Chinese Internet Journalists Visiting Jilin” on July 22, Vice Director Li Zhanwun of the Committee said, “Mt. Changbai ranked second out of 17 places on the preliminary list of the nation’s cultural and natural heritage that the National Construction Ministry announced for the first time in January. Protection and development of the areas near Mt. Changbai has entered a new phase of development.”

The Committee plans to inject two billion Yuan (approximately 240 billion won) to develop the western slope of Mt. Baekdu on the Chinese side and open it around the year starting 2007.

Mt. Changbai Airport, which is currently being constructed in Fusong County 36 kilometers away from the North Korean border, is scheduled to open before the 2008 Beijing Olympics begins. The Jilin Provincial Government is also sparing no investment to expand the transportation networks near Mt. Baekdu, and is planning to complete construction of the Mt. Changbai Eastern Railroad, three highway networks and circular roadways in the next three years.

The Chinese National Tourism Agency and the Jilin Provincial Government recently held the first tourism festival near Mt. Baekdu; they are also active in attracting tourists from Russia and other foreign countries by holding the Yanbian Korean ethnic exposition. They also seek to stimulate the economy by developing mineral water in the areas nearby Mt. Baekdu and expanding cultivation of ginseng there.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government is reportedly seeking to register as UNESCO world cultural heritage the remnants of the Sanggyeong Yongcheonbu, which is the old capital of another ancient Korean kingdom—Balhae—located in the Bohai Bay, Ningan City, Heilongjiang Province.