A senior Chinese leader said Tuesday that the government will promote the reform of the Peking Opera to better meet people's needs.
Li Changchun, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee (CPC), made the remarks during his visits to two prominent Peking opera troupes, the Peking Opera Troupe of Beijing and the China National Peking Opera Company.
Li said as a gem of the Chinese culture, the Peking Opera deserves state support and protection. The government would increase funding to a number of major Peking Opera troupes and strengthen construction of necessary infrastructure.
In addition, the government would push forward popularization of the art, including cultivating new audiences among high school and college students. It would also formulate policies promoting the influence of the Peking Opera in foreign countries.
Li also urged Peking Opera troupes to continuously carry out innovations to conform with the times and people's needs and make more contributions to the "construction of socialist progressive culture."
"The Peking Opera should conform with the needs of the masses and the market. That's the fundamental approach to the reinvigoration of the Peking Opera," said Li.
The Peking Opera used to be the most popular art in China, treasured by people of all ranks. It is now under increasing impact from foreign culture and new types of media, including television, video and audio recordings, film and the Internet.
"The number of Peking Opera performances has dropped sharply. The number of audience, performers and young people wishing to practice the art is also dropping," said an official with the cultural department of east China's Jiangsu Province.
In a striking contrast, popularity of the Peking Opera is increasing abroad.
Cao Shichao, director of the Shanghai Decun Cultural Research Institute, said many Chinese people had neglected the valuable parts of their culture.
"What Westerners want to know most is our culture, history, art and landscape," said Cao. "It's a pity we ourselves don't pay much attention to them. It's wrong."