Chinese State Councilor Chen Zhili joined crowds of people to visit an exhibition of precious cultural relics held in Beijing on Saturday, China's first "Cultural Heritage Day".
"The rich, colorful and very precious cultural relics embody the creativity and vitality of the Chinese nation. They are valuable assets for the sustainable development of the Chinese nation and also gems of the entire human civilization," Chen said at the exhibition, held in the National Museum of China.
China's "Cultural Heritage Day" falls on the second Saturday of June every year. This year's "Cultural Heritage Day" bears the theme of "Protecting cultural heritage and safeguarding the spiritual homeland".
All cultural relic protection sites, museums and memorial halls across the country are ordered to open free to the public on the day.
Chen said as economic globalization and modernization picks up speed, China faces a heavy task to protect and salvage its cultural relics.
She said colorful public activities, including exhibitions, are needed to enhance public awareness of the importance of cultural heritage protection and inspire the young people to love the fine traditional culture of the motherland.
In Beijing, large crowds were drawn to nearly 100 activities, including exhibitions of handicrafts, drum beating performance and various sorts of acrobatics.
In Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, the municipal government issued medals to 13 outstanding folk artists to honor their achievements. It also inaugurated an intangible cultural heritage protection center and an intangible cultural heritage exhibition center.
Establishing the "Cultural Heritage Day" marks one of a series steps taken by the Chinese government to step up protection of fine traditional Chinese culture.
A few days earlier, the government has announced a long list of 1,080newly named key cultural relic sites under state protection and 518 items of state-level intangible cultural heritage.
"The number of such sites named this time is very close to the total number of those named in the previous five times since 1961, " said Shan Jixiang, head of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.
"That's unimaginable in the past," he said.
As a result, the number of key cultural relic sites under state protection have risen to 2,351.
Shan said this shows the central authorities are giving more priority to cultural construction in line with the strategy of pursuing scientific concept of development and a sustainable development road and building a harmonious society.
Shan said these efforts will produce good results.
"We have learnt from our work that key cultural relic sites under state protection sites play an important role in publicizing traditional Chinese culture, promoting patriotic education and education on revolutionary traditions," he said.
"They also play an important role in promoting international cultural exchanges, enhancing publicity of the places they are located and promoting local economic, especially travel industry, growth," he said.
He said the number of key cultural relic sites under state protection is still not big enough considering China's long history of civilization and the huge number of cultural relics.
"Our survey shows there are more than 400,000 non-moveable cultural relic sites in China at present," Shan said.
He said Egypt has put more than 20,000 cultural relic sites under protection of the central government. The number is around 5,000 in India and 2,823 in Vietnam.