China Cultural Superpower
Today China is the leading economy in terms of exports, trade, and volume of foreign direct investment, but also aims to be a leader in cultural influence as well.
In addition to the macroeconomic objectives, Beijing wants a stable presence in UNESCO through investments devoted to the development of infrastructures and events to meet the cultural needs of an increasingly wealthy population, as well as to attract tourists, students, and foreign entrepreneurs, strengthening its soft power. Xi Jinping himself, president of the People's Republic and secretary of the Communist Party of China, often mentions in his speeches the value of the country in history and archeology.
In the second half of July 2021, the city of Fuzhou, Fujian province, hosted the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee, chaired by Tian Xuejun, Deputy Minister of Education and Chair of the People's Republic of China Commission for UNESCO. During this event several new sites have been included in the World Heritage list, such as the ancient port city of Quanzhou, located in Fujian. The inclusion of Quanzhou, a maritime commercial center between the 10th and 14th centuries, during the Song and Yuan dynasties, also visited by Marco Polo during his trip, highlights the importance of cultural and economic intertwining.
Quanzhou joins the list of Chinese material assets registered in the World Heritage: 56 sites (38 cultural sites, 14 natural, and 4 mixed) and 42 intangible heritages, making a total of 98 tangible and intangible assets recognized by UNESCO. China ranks first among all nations in terms of world heritage sites. Actually, Italy does have a greater number of tangible assets (58), however, it has fewer intangible assets (14).
Among the Chinese World Heritage sites there are not only archaeological sites and remains of ancient imperial cities, but also places that have had great economic importance: in addition to the port city in Fujian, the list also includes the Imperial Grand Canal, which allowed the connection between the Yellow River and the Yangtze River, and the segment of the Silk Road (over 5,000km) called Tianshan Corridor. The Tianshan Corridor, beginning in Chang'an, the ancient capital of the Han and Tang dynasties, allowed to reach the Central Asia regions, hence the markets of Europe.