Korean and China to Discuss Japan’s UNESCO Bid

luvsmiling, May 25, 2015, 10:06 a.m.

Senior lawmakers of South Korea and China are set to hold talks this week during which they are expected to discuss Japan's bid for UNESCO World Heritage status for some of its 19th-century industrial sites, a South Korean diplomatic source with knowledge of the talks said Monday.

Japan has been stepping up efforts to gain world heritage status for the 23 industrial facilities, where tens of thousands of Korean people were brought to such coal mines before and during the Japanese colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

South Korea has blamed Japan for trying to distort the history of forced mobilization of Korean laborers with the UNESCO bid. China also voiced opposition to the Japanese bid, saying "the colonial history must not be glorified."

Rep. Na Kyung-won, chairwoman of South Korea's National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee, will visit Beijing on Wednesday and hold talks with Fu Ying, chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of China's National People's Congress, according to the source.

"Japan's application for UNESCO World Heritage status for the industrial sites is likely to be one of topics during the talks between the two sides," the source said on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Last week, South Korean President Park Geun-hye told the UNESCO chief Irina Bokova that the Japanese bid creates an "unnecessary discord" with neighboring countries. On May 14, Chinaese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters that "China shares the strong concerns of South Korea when it comes to Japan's move to register the relevant industrial sites as world heritage and expresses opposition to this."    "China calls on Japan to face up to and properly address relevant concerns. It is believed that the World Heritage Committee would figure out a responsible way to deal with this issue," Hua said.

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