The ME evaluation of the five WCLHs in China based on the evaluation system constructed shows that, the overall ME scores of Lushan, West Lake, Mount Wutai, Hani Rice Terraces, and Huashan Rock Art are 3.75, 4.13, 3.48, 3.48 and 3.11 respectively, with an average score of 3.59 (Table 2). Among them, the ME grade of West Lake is excellent, and the ME grades of the other WCLHs is good, indicating that the management of these WCLHs still have much room to improve. The evaluation result is in line with the overall management status of the five WCLHs in China reported by interviewees, in the second data collected, and in the online tourist reviews, indicating that the ME evaluation system of WCLH constructed is practically operable and relatively scientific.
With regard to the ME evaluation result at general criteria layer, the average score of the five Chinese WCLHs in terms of management foundation, management system, management measures and management performance are 3.69, 3.45, 3.74 and 3.58 respectively. It indicates that the management of WCLHs in China is overall at good level in the aspects of “management foundation”, “management system”, “management measures” and “management performance”, and thus still have large room for improvement especially in the area of “management system”, consistent with the development and management of world heritage in China in the past decades. First, world heritage listing has often been considered as an effective way to boost regional development in the context of China. Be they in the process of listing application or subsequent development initiatives, local government of associated heritage sites, especially those at prefecture and county levels, usually invest a lot of personnel, material and financial resources to lay a good foundation of for further development activities like heritage tourism. Second, except for Hani Rice Terraces, the other WCLH sites have long been listed as national protected areas and developed as tourist attractions before taking initiatives of listing application. Therefore, rich legacies in terms of personnel, facilities, regulations, as well as experiences in heritage monitoring and maintenance, heritage interpretation and public heritage education, scientific research, and so forth were left for associated WCLH sites. Third, after successfully listing as World Heritage, relative heritage soon became renowned. In the meanwhile, the strong development initiatives made by local government and respective agents, for example heritage tourism, may generate considerable economic benefits. For such reasons, the management performance of WCLHs more often than not keep at a satisfactory level. Last, institutional and administrative issues especially regarding those caused by multiple management bodies as well as their overlapping functions and conflicting interest, have been reported in a number of cases of world heritage in China, including the case sties of this study. China has recently endeavored to carry out management institution reform. However, the substantial change in regarding of management system and perfection solution of related matters may still require more time and effort to get happened. It is worthy to point out that the ME evaluation result of West Lake is outstanding in all general criteria, that other WCLHs are evaluated as good in most criteria, and that Huashan Rock Art is rated as barely satisfactory in the criteria of “management system”. That evaluation result could offer implications for the management departments of individual WCLHs to carry out criterion-targeted strategies to improve the ME of respective heritage sites.
In aspect of the ME evaluation result at factors layer, overall the ME of WCLHs in China is rated as outstanding only in the factors of “heritage motoring and maintenance” and “management planning” and as good in all other factors. To better protect the cultural landscape heritage, China has made great investments be they in ways of providing personnel, founding or regulational support. In most heritage sites, an all-round motoring system that are connected to provincial and national motoring platforms is built to offer 24h motoring on not only the landscapes and the environment they embedded but also the activities of actors like tourists. Besides, particular departments that are responsible for carrying out daily management and maintenance duties are arrange in majority of heritage sites. Regarding the specific situation of case WCLHs, West Lake stands out for receiving 11 outstanding grades out of 16 factors. Being evaluated as outstanding in 3 factors, Lushan is relatively moderate. The situation of Mount Wutai, Hani Rice Terraces, and Huashan Rock Art are to some extent worrying as they only get 1 outstanding grade but are scored barely satisfactory in 2, 1, 4 factors respectively. Overall, the evaluation result of the factor of “management institutions” (3.06) is far from excellent, with Mount Wutai, Hani Rice Terraces, and Huashan Rock Art all get barely satisfactory in this factor. The situation may be directly related to the institutional and administrative issues discussed in previous section. Regarding the factor of “management assessment”, West Lake and Hani Rice Terraces receive outstanding grade while Mount Wutai and Huashan Rock Art are rated as barely satisfactory, indicating that the latter should learn from the valid experience of the former. West Lake made a very first attempt in China to conduct an expert review on the implement of its development and management plans. The local government of Hani Rice Terraces initiated a self-assessment the management of the heritage and issued the assessment report to public for supervision. The result that Huashan Rock Art is rated as barely satisfactory in the factor of “management supervision” is also noteworthy.
Considering the ME evaluation result at indicators layer, the ME of WCLHs in China overall is evaluated as outstanding in indicators of "general funds", “monitoring system”, “interpretation and education activities”, and “management plans”, and good in all other indicators. With respect to the specific results of case WCLHs, Lushan, West Lake, Mount Wutai, Hani Rice Terraces, and Huashan Rock Art are rated as outstanding in 10, 24, 4, 4, 2 out of 34 indicators, and as barely satisfactory in 0, 0, 3, 2, 9 indicators respectively. To be more nuanced, Huashan Rock Art gets barely satisfactory in all indicators under the factors of “management institutions”, “management mechanisms”, “management supervision”, and “management assessment” as well as in the indicator of “infrastructure”. According to field observation, the development activities surrounding Huashan Rock Art has remained very rough. For example, tourism products derived from the heritage have been limited to a boat tour of sightseeing the rock art and a live performance themed at the rock art. Besides, with a meager score of 3.05, it’s evaluation result in the indicators of “personnel support” and “community attitude” is also worrisome. In that case, a serious campaign seems necessary to better develop, protect and manage the cultural landscape of Huashan Rock Art. Another issue that needs to pay more attention is the management bodies of Mount Wutai, Hani Rice Terraces, and Huashan Rock Art have been granted limited authority, revealed in their barely satisfactory evaluation result in the indicator of “authority granted”. These indicator-based evaluation results point out concrete and detailed directions for the WCHLs in China to advance their ME in future management practices.