On Sunday, the UNESCO World Heritage list included about 22 sites, including a temple connecting Hinduism in the South eastern Chinese city Quanzhou. The new list of “Quanzhou Emporium of the world in song-yuan China” by the world’s top cultural organisation is likely to boost Chinese president Xi Jinping’s maritime Silk Road, belt and road initiative (BRI) certificate of part of the sea route, which aims to extend China to Asia and beyond connecting through marine infrastructure project.
China has been promoting the coastal province Fujian and the city of Quanzhou as an important ancient sea trade zone where multicultural communities including from Tamil Nadu mingled a millennia ago. Xi served as governor of Fujian between 1999 and 2002, and visited Quanzhou. The decision was made during the 43rd online session of the UNESCO World Heritage committee on Sunday, chaired by Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian and the same province where Kwanji’s is located.
In October 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Xi had decided to establish “sister -state relation” between Tamil Nadu and Fujian after Mamallapuram visit due to Qunazhou’s ancient ties with Tamil Nadu.
The main sites on the list include the Hindu- Buddhist -Kaiyan temple, the Luoyan Bridge Qinging mosque, one of the oldest mosque in China and an archaeological site of an old maritime trade office, which was first established in 1087, according to the state China Daily newspaper.
The document that China submitted to UNESCO, applying for the status of Quanzhou heritage site did not specifically mention the city’s ancient relationship with Tamil Nadu or Hinduism. “Historical monuments and sites of an ancient Quanzhou (zaiton)” are directly related to the significant events of general Zheng Ho’s voyage to China and are clearly involved in the spread of Islam Manchesterism, Hinduism and Nestroiasm in the South East cocoas”, the document said.
Wang liming from the Quanzhou Maritime Museum shared more details and said ,”Today, anyone who talks about the relationship between ancient Hinduism and China cannot help but mention the city of Quanzhou, its past prosperity has left the city with a huge number of valuable cultural ruins. Among them, the Hindu carving industry allows people to understand Hindu scriptures and mythology and demonstrates the friendly exchange between Quanzhou and Tamil Nadu, India which began more than 1000 years ago”.
“With the worldwide popularity of Quanzho, people of different religious beliefs from all over the world visit the city. Christianity, Islam and Judaism came one of after another, Hinduism also came after Indian merchants. The followers built great Hindu temples and altars in the metropolis”, Wang added.
About a particular temple Wong wrote: “Today, according to these very historical history, this very temple, which was described as “extremely great” has long since been destroyed. Although it is impossible to see it’s true appearance, there are numerous fine stone carvings at non Nanjiochang, where the temple was probably located. Hindu architectural elements have also been found in many parts of the city.
According to the Sunday’s list, China now has 56 UNESCO World Heritage sites, one of the lowest in the world.