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Home >> China
UPDATED: 08:22, March 15, 2006
Culture chief urges heritage list expansion
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China expects more of its intangible cultural heritage items to be included on the protection list of the United Nations in the future, Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng said yesterday.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adds new items to the list every two years, but each country is permitted only one nomination in each round.

"Culturally speaking, China is a country with a tremendous number of legacies, so we have always hoped UNESCO would ease (relevant restrictions) and admit more Chinese items to its list," Sun told China Daily.

He made the remarks on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress, which ended yesterday.

The list, the "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity," was set up in 2001.

By last year, it included China's Kunqu Opera, the art of guqin music, and the Uygur Muqam the melodious centuries-old music from Xinjiang. Together with Mongolia, China also successfully had Mongolian long-tune folk songs added last year.

"We have had four items included as 'masterpieces,'" Sun said. "This can far from satisfy our needs."

UNESCO's Beijing office could not be contacted yesterday.

But the UN organization has previously said that when the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage comes into force next month, no more items would be added to the list.

It said the items proclaimed as "masterpieces" will be incorporated into a newly-created "Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity."

As well as trying to have more Chinese legacies included in the relevant UN list, Sun said, China has compiled a national list of important intangible cultural heritage items.

Earlier this week, Vice-Minister of Culture Zhou Heping said Chinese experts had chosen 501 examples from more than 1,300 contenders throughout the country, including craftsmanship and festival rituals, to be put on a State-level protection list to be announced soon.

"Either applying for inclusion in a world list or creating a domestic protection list, the goal is to enhance the whole nation's awareness of protecting cultural heritage," Sun said.

A range of statutes must be implemented to protect the heritage items and stem their decline, he added.

The ministry has sponsored a exhibition of examples of intangible cultural heritage items, such as craftsmanship, festival rituals and languages, at the National Museum of China in Beijing. The one-month show is due to end tomorrow.

Source: China Daily

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