Ancient Northern Tea Road Under Consideration as Heritage Site

SHANXI, China

China is pursuing recognition of the ancient northern tea road as a United Nations World Heritage site. The 13,000 kilometer Sino-Russian Tea Road started in eastern China, traversed the steppes of Mongolia and ended in St. Petersburg, Russia linking more than 200 cities.

Trade routes to the orient expanded in the 17th century to bring the treasures of China to the northern boundaries of Europe. The Tea Road originated in the Wuyi Mountains of Fujian province.

“North China’s Shanxi province didn’t plant tea, but the old Jinshang merchants of the province sold Chinese tea around the world three hundred years ago,” according to Li Anping president of the Shanxi Zhendong Group that specializes in functional food and agricultural development.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative has inspired cities to revive interest in the tea road and other ancient routes, according to China Daily.

The city of Chibi and nearby Xianning, which have sold tea to Russia for centuries, proposed establishing a tea processing facility in Kungur, Russia. Kungur is a sister city to Xianning. More than 400 representatives from Russia and China met last week in Pingyao, near Shanxi for the fifth China-Mongolia-Russia Mayors’ Summit. The summit was initiated by the Chinese Culture Promotion Society administered by the Ministry of Culture.

Government officials in nine provinces along the Sino-Russian Tea Road who applied for UNESCO designation as a cultural heritage site have until 2017 to complete the process. In the photo above Deshengbu in Datong, a village with ancient ramparts was once a stop on the ancient Tea Road. Shanxi province has selected historical sites in eight local cities for consideration as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage status. [Photo by sxrb.com/Courtesy Shanxi province]

One guest was Munkhnasan, the governor of Arkhangai province in Mongolia, who attended the summit seeking Chinese partners to invest and provide guidance in developing a tourism project in the province. “China has abundant experience in developing tourism projects and building entertainment facilities such as glass skywalks, all of which can help promote the development of tourism in my hometown,” he told China Daily.

It takes several years of evaluation for UNESCO to grand World Cultural status. The Great Wall of China is one example and the terracotta warriors in Shaanxi. In 2012 eight provinces along the Tea Road jointly applied for UNESCO status. The provinces identified 24 historical places along the route. Preparations for the UNESCO evaluation must be complete this year.

Source: UNESCO, China Daily