Zhou Jiansheng, born in November 1950, joined the China Photographers Association in 1980. In 1988, he went to Tokyo to study photography, obtaining his master's degree two years later. Zhou is now a special photographer with the PPS News Agency and World Culture Photo Service.
Zhou first conceived the idea of photographing the world's cultural and natural heritage in 1988, while he was studying in Japan. At the Sony Building in Tokyo, he one day happened to see a huge picture hanging on the wall. It was an image of the Aerial City of Peru, Machu Picchu. Zhou was stunned, and later found that the picture was part of a promotion for the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
It wasn't until 1994 that Zhou was able to put into action his ambitious plan to explore the world and its heritage. In the eight years that followed he visited 77 countries, ranging across five continents. He traveled to the Arctic Circle in the north and Cape of Good Hope in the south. The total distance he covered was equivalent to 30 circuits of the planet.
When Zhou began photographing them, there were only 420 World Heritage sites on UNESCO list. By the close of the 28th session of the World Heritage Committee in Suzhou, China, on July 7, 2004, the figure had risen to 788.
"The heritage sites record the brilliant history of humanity and show the footprints of our ancestors, those who explored and created human civilization. They belong to all of humanity," Zhou said.
(China.org.cn by Li Jinhui August 17, 2004)