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Mahjong eligible for world heritage

(People's Daily Online)

08:33, November 02, 2012


The finals of the second national mahjong masters competition came to an end in Hangzhou on Oct. 27. At the same time, the signature activity by millions of mahjong partners for mahjong being included in the UNESCO world heritage list was also carried out.

Together with Beijing opera, traditional Chinese painting and medicine, Mahjong is known as the quintessence of Chinese culture, and its application for the world heritage again caused high attention of outside world.

In the eyes of many people, playing mahjong means idle and doing no decent work. In fact, it is somewhat biased to view and understand mahjong in this way. Mahjong has a long history in China and is loved by numerous Chinese people. Now, it has been transmitted to other countries, with many blond foreigners participating in the mahjong competition.

Mahjong fans think that mahjong, like Beijing opera, traditional Chinese painting and medicine, is the quintessence of Chinese culture, so it is eligible for application of becoming the world heritage.

As a way of entertainment having extensive mass base and loved by common people, moderately playing mahjong is of great benefit to people's physical and mental health and can improve interpersonal relationship. Having low cost and extensive participators, mahjong is more popular among people than Beijing opera and traditional Chinese painting. From this perspective, there is nothing wrong for mahjong to apply for the world heritage, which not only can improve the status of mahjong in China but also is conducive to the spread of Chinese culture.

However, some reasons explained why its application for the world heritage caused so much controversy and disapproval. One of the reasons is the "ambiguous" relationship between mahjong and gambling. Some people take mahjong as a gambling tool, which ruined the reputation of mahjong. Gambling not only is harmful to oneself and others but also violates the state laws. Therefore, it is not strange that certain people are disgusted at mahjong.

In fact, application for registration of mahjong as cultural heritage is not unreasonable. But first, it has to get rid of the "inculpation relating to gambling". In other words, a distinction has to be made between mahjong and gambling to promote healthy mahjong and "green pollution-free" mahjong before considering such application.

People all say that playing a little mahjong is joyful; but if rising to the level of group gambling and getting people addicted, then it is tremendously harmful.

In the Internet age, the Internet and mobile phones have created emotional barriers, separated people, estranged family, and reduced exchanges. The cultural entertainment method such as Mahjong, which needs the involvement of many people and requires cooperation undoubtedly helps a lot in increasing feelings between people. This is exactly the basis on which some people proposed the application for its registration as national cultural heritage.

However, if the relationship between Mahjong and the "gambling" habit cannot be clearly cut off, the application cannot be justified. Therefore, the application is reasonable provided the public should be advocated to return to healthy, scientific, and friendly Mahjong culture by getting rid of gambling.

Source:Western China Metropolis Daily, author: Yuan Guangkuo

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