China tries to ease Paektu concern

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China tries to ease Paektu concern

China’s top envoy to South Korea has said his country will consult with a concerned country, apparently referring to North Korea, before seeking World Heritage status for Mount Paektu on its border with the North, embassy officials said Friday. The World Heritage list is maintained by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
The remarks by Ning Fukui came amid growing concern that China has taken steps to solidify its historical claim over the highest peak on the Korean Peninsula, nearly half of which is in Chinese territory.
“Even though China will put Changbaishan on the World Heritage list, it will do so in consultation with a concerned country,” the ambassador said in a speech during an academic forum at Seoul National University on Thursday, using the Chinese name for the mountain.
He did not directly mention North Korea during the speech, but has previously suggested several times that North Korea is the concerned country on the Mount Paektu issue.
In September, Beijing issued a directive to about a dozen hotels operating there, including four run by South Koreans and one by an ethnic Korean resident of Japan, to close their businesses and leave by the year’s end. The move was part of an initiative to make the Paektu area a World Heritage site nominated by Beijing, critics said.
In related news, northeastern Jilin Province, which administers the Chinese part of the mountain, unveiled an ambitious plan Friday that would make the mountain a 5A scenic spot, the highest of China’s tourism zone levels. China is bidding to host the 2018 Winter Olympics on its side of the mountain.

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