There is a long-standing debate concerning the suitability of European or 'western' approaches to the conservation of cultural heritage in other parts of world. The Cultural Charter for Africa (1976), The Burra Charter (1979) and Nara Document on Authenticity (1994) are notable manifestations of such concerns. These debates are particularly vibrant in Asia today. This article highlights a number of charters, declarations and publications that have been conceived to recalibrate the international field of heritage governance in ways that address the perceived inadequacies of documents underpinning today's global conservation movement, such as the 1964 Venice Charter. But as Venice has come to stand as a metonym for a 'western' conservation approach, intriguing questions arise concerning what is driving these assertions of geographic, national or civilisational difference in Asia. To address such questions, the article moves between a number of explanatory frameworks. It argues declarations about Asia's culture, its landscapes, and its inherited pasts are, in fact, the combined manifestations of post-colonial subjectivities, a desire for prestige on the global stage of cultural heritage governance and the practical challenges of actually doing conservation in the region.