Does the Cu Chi Tunnels site have what it takes to receive world heritage status from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)?
|The Cu Chi Tunnels site has attracted many local and international tourists over the years. Photo courtesy of thanhnien.vn|
The HCM City People’s Committee has recently asked the Ministry of Defence to consider developing a profile for Cu Chi Tunnels and submit it to UNESCO for approval as a world heritage site, according to a report in Tuổi trẻ (Youth) newspaper.
Vice chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee Le Van Liem said the area in outlying Cu Chi District is a valuable historical and cultural site that reflects outstanding military and scientific achievement.
He said it was important to have the Ministry of Defence’s opinion about the plan. Meaningful relationships among soldiers, and between soldiers and locals during wartime, are inspirational and make up Cu Chi Tunnels' intangible values, he said.
The Cu Chi Tunnels site is one of the most attractive tourism attractions in the South. It has outstanding global value, integrity and authenticity in accordance with UNESCO’s requirements. It has also met the first, fourth and fifth criterion of UNESCO’s criteria for selection as a world heritage site, he said.
Experts from the cultural sector of HCM City have agreed to wait for detailed directions from the Ministry of Defence and HCM City People’s Committee before working on the necessary documents for the site's profile.
Dang Van Bai, vice president of the Vietnam Association of Cultural Heritage and member of the National Cultural Heritage Council, supports the plan on developing a profile for Cu Chi Tunnels for inclusion on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites.
The Cu Chi Tunnels site has an underground structure with great historical functions, Bai said. The site contributed to the Great Victory in Spring 1975 and proved that Vietnamese were flexible and adaptable.
An effective management unit would be very beneficial to the growth of Cu Chi Tunnels in terms of tourism development, Bai said.
“The Cu Chi Tunnels site has met many criteria that UNESCO requires to become a world heritage. I strongly support HCM City People’s Committee’s idea to register this site into the list," he said.
However, smooth coordination among experts and authorities is crucial to develop a quality profile for Cu Chi Tunnels.
Nguyen Xuan Nang, a member of the National Cultural Heritage Council and former director of the Vietnam Military History Museum, emphasised that the tunnels are a very special relic in Vietnam.
The tunnels are about 250km total in length with many floors and nooks. They served soldiers in the wars against the French and Americans, and demonstrate a special art of war of the Vietnamese people that is rare elsewhere, Nang said.
Digging the long and complicated tunnels was hard enough, but being able to keep them a secret from the enemy was even harder, he added.
Generations of leaders such as Nguyen Van Linh, Vo Van Kiet, Tran Bach Dang, Mai Chi Tho, Nguyen Hong Dao and Nguyen Hai Phung, among others, once lived and worked there.
Phan An, former director of the Southern Institute of Social Sciences, said the proposal to recognise Cu Chi Tunnels as a world heritage would introduce this special relic to international friends, and also provide locals with a chance to appreciate this site.
He said the Cu Chi Tunnels site has not been fairly embraced. Though it is a significant historical and cultural site, many locals born and raised in HCM City have never once set foot on the spot.
Communication programmes used to promote the site are relatively weak, and only a part of the Củ Chi Tunnels system has been properly preserved for tourism purposes, according to An.
If the Cu Chi Tunnels site received world heritage site status, authorities and locals would be more responsible and take action to protect it, he said. VNS
The HCM City People's Committee has sent a document to the Ministry of National Defense as it seeks advice on compiling relevant dossiers about the historic Cu Chi Tunnels as its strives to gain UNESCO’s recognition as a world heritage site.
Cu Chi Tunnels, about 70 km northwest of downtown Ho Chi Minh City, are a "wonder" in the ground, recognised as a symbol of the Vietnamese guerrilla resistant war against invaders.