From the end of April to the middle of May, under the warm invitation of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar, 18 teachers and students of the Key Laboratory of Urban and Architectural Heritage Protection from Southeast University visited the Rakhine State of Myanmar. They stayed in the ancient city of Mrauk U for 15 days, during which they would make assessments for cultural relic’s ontology and investigate cultural heritage-related content. Their work provided technical support and made preparation for the city’s application for the world’s cultural heritage. This investigation was guided by the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Headquarters and supported and co-operated by the Archaeological Department of Myanmar’s Religious Affairs and Culture Department. The survey was conducted on the basis of the first joint study of Myanmar and China in January 2017.
On April 30, Professor Dong Wei and Professor Zhou Xiaodi made a special visit to the Chinese Embassy in the Union of Myanmar. Ambassador Hong Liang cared a lot about the work of the SEU team in Mrauk U. He pointed out that their work should be based on the study of the ancient city, and make full use of the “Belt and Road” strategy, deepening the cooperation between China and Southeast Asia. When protecting the ancient city, the team was supposed to proceed from the basic work, fully understand local culture and custom and strengthen the connection with the government, experts and residences. He emphasized that the protection of the ancient city should be integrated into the development of the city, using the rich historical and cultural resources for the development of economy. This project could greatly enhance the cooperation of China and Myanmar, and contribute to the internationalization of Asian cities in the new historical conditions.
On May 3, Professor Dong and Professor Zhou were invited to the seminar on the application for the world heritage of Myanmar. They reported their preliminary results and put forward the protection plan which received the praise and affirmation of present experts.
Mrauk U is known as the city of pagoda. It is full of different types of pagodas and monasteries of different ages. It used to be the capital of Rakhine and the intersection of the ancient South Silk Road and the Sea Silk Road. The city has a very important strategic position. It is located in the Sino-Myanmar oil and gas pipelines and is the upper part of the railway, and it is also an important port. As one of the ancient cities in the “Belt and Road”, Mrauk U is very important for the Chinese experts to understand the importance of Myanmar in Southeast Asia and look for the methods of Chinese-Foreign academic cooperation and exchange, therefore, enhancing the soft power of China.
The teachers and students of Southeast University filmed the high-definition videos of the city and shot the palace ruins and more than 20 important pagodas’ three-dimensional pictures. They collected plenty of materials and laid solid foundation for follow-up work. With the help of local government, the team distributed thousands of questionnaires and visited around 3000 families in the core block of the city, establishing the basic database of the city. The team believed that the protection project would contribute a lot to the protection of Asian cultural and historical heritage and the development of sustainable city, and provide the eastern model for the development of other historical cities.
During their stay in Mrauk U, Mr Emmer, chairman of the Rakhine State Council visited the hotel and expressed his gratitude to the team. He discussed the future development of the city with the team and both sides reached agreement in many aspects.