Tusi sites -- the remains of an ancient political system adopted by Chinese emperors to govern ethnic minority regions in south-central and southwest China -- were inscribed in the World Heritage List on Saturday.
The World Heritage Committee unanimously approved the inscription at its annual meeting in the western German city of Bonn, in recognition of the "universal value" reflected in the Tusi Sites, named after the title of the tribal leaders appointed by the central government.
The committee said the system aimed at unifying national administration while simultaneously allowing ethnic minorities to retain their customs and way of life.
The combination of local ethnic and central Chinese features at the sites exhibits an interchange of values and testifies to imperial Chinese administrative methods, it added.
The new inscription increased the number of world heritage sites in China to 48, only fewer than Italy.
Tusi literally means national minority hereditary headmen appointed under the ancient political system adopted by Chinese emperors to govern the often unruly ethnic minority regions in southwest China.