China to Chair Temple Project on Border with Thailand

T. Mohan / Khmer Times No Comments Share:

PHNOM PENH, (Khmer Times) – At Cambodia’s request, China has agreed to chair a project devoted to restoring Preah Vihear, a temple located on Cambodia’s northern border with Thailand. 
Located atop a 525-meter cliff, the 9000-year-old temple was added the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites in 2008. As recently as three years ago, the temple was damaged in exchanges of artillery fire between Thai and Cambodian troops.
China is taking the lead in its restoration.
“This is a significant development,” highly placed Cambodian government officials told the Khmer Times.
This development came after Deputy Prime Minister Sok An visited China last December and met with officials in the field of historic preservation.
China reportedly also backs Cambodia’s initiative to establish International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Preah Vihear (ICC-Preah Vihear).
This initiative is based on a similar move, in 1993, to set up International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC-Angkor). France and Japan co-chair this committee.
In 1995, Cambodia set up its national partner, the APSARA National Authority for Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap.
The official announcement of China’s willingness to chair the ICC-Preah Vihear is expected to be made at an ICC-Angkor technical session scheduled for December.
The ICC-Angkor model has inspired not only Cambodia, but also other countries to apply such mechanisms in their respective countries, those in the Middle East.
Since the establishment of the ICC-Angkor, more than 60 temple restoration projects have been including undertaken in Siem Reap Province, the home of Angkor, with support from 17 countries and 28 international organizations. 
In 2004, – due to these joint efforts by Cambodia and foreign donors, – Angkor temple was removed from the “in danger” portion of the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Over the last two decades, the international community has invested about $500 million in temple restoration.
In 2008,  Cambodia successfully won the listing of  Preah Vihear Temple as a UNESCO’s World Heritage site, despite opposition from the Thai government, which wanted a joint listing.
Cambodia has developed a schedule to repair, preserve, and conserve the temple in accordance with conditions and criteria required by world heritage experts. 
The plan was completed in 2008 by Cambodian experts working with experts from France, USA, Belgium and India. This management plan was sent to UNESCO’s World Heritage Center in France in 2010. 
Cambodia says that all activities in Cambodia’s management plan are to be carried out either within the temple itself or south of the Preah Vihear Temple, in Cambodian territory.
In November 2013, the International Court of Justice unanimously reaffirmed a 1962 ruling by the court that Cambodia has sovereignty over the whole territory of the promontory of Preah Vihear. In consequence, Thailand was obliged to withdraw all Thai soldiers, police, guards or park keepers stationed there.

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