Chongqing, 23 August 2023 (TD): In a significant move towards preserving global cultural heritage, China and Pakistan have inked a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Chongqing. This collaboration aims to combat the challenges posed by climate change on invaluable cultural sites.

The announcement was made during the first International Forum on Cave Temple Conservation, held in Chongqing Municipality on August 19.

The forum, themed “Cave Temple Conservation in the Context of Climate Change,” witnessed discussions on preserving rock carvings, particularly those at the Baoding Mountains.

These carvings, dating back to the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), are a part of the Dazu Rock Carvings which was recognized as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.

The MoU was signed between the Academy of Dazu Rock Carvings and the Museum of the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Peshawar.

Dr. Abdul Samad, representing Pakistan, expressed optimism about the collaboration, emphasizing its potential benefits beyond just the two nations.

He highlighted the need for increased cooperation in cultural heritage, given the existing ties in economic sectors and initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative and the CPEC.

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Moreover, Dr. Samad stressed the importance of mutual learning and collaboration, given the shared challenges both nations face in cultural relic protection.

The Dazu Rock Carvings, comprising over 50,000 stone statues across 74 locations, have always posed a challenge for preservation due to geology and climate. The primary threat to these carvings is water erosion, leading to weathering and biological damage.

Efforts have been made to protect these relics, with the establishment of institutions like the Stone Cultural Relics Protection Research Center and the Dazu Rock Carvings Cultural Relics Hospital.

Jiang Siwei, Director of the Dazu Rock Carvings Research Institute, expressed hope for the future. Under the MoU, both parties will exchange expertise, promote cultural protection development, and ensure the shared prosperity of cultural heritage.

Climate change, with its increasing extreme weather events, has intensified concerns about the preservation of such sites.

The primary challenges faced include humidity and wind erosion. Experts from various countries, including Germany, Italy, and Pakistan, have been actively discussing strategies to safeguard these treasures.