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When intangible cultural heritage meets modern rules, sometimes the result can be unpleasant

(People's Daily Online)    16:34, July 17, 2017

Seventy-nine-year-old Yang Fengshen never expected he would be put behind bars for his cultural heritage business—it is after all what he did for a living, and he is certified as a legal inheritor of traditional firecracker making skills.

(File photo)

However, on February 19, 2016, Yang received a four-year-and-a-half year punishment for illegally making explosives. He was making firecrackers for the upcoming traditional firecracker conference in Hebei province when he got arrested.

Every year, Yang’s skills are checked by cultural authorities, and police are always present at the conference. “Why did traditionally-made firecrackers, enjoyed by many, now become illegal?” Yang asked.

Similarly, Zhou Erlu, the inheritor of a puppet show that includes firecrackers was arrested under the same charge in 2008, though was later found innocent.

(File photo)

Local police say Yang was found making explosives weighing more than 15 kilograms without approval, while the intangible cultural heritage protection authorities stress the conference was closely monitored.

Ruan Qilin, a professor at China University of Political Science and Law, noted that the certification granted him the right to make traditional fireworks as an intangible cultural heritage, which means making and setting-off of the fireworks are legally approved, Procuratorial Daily reported.

According to Wang Hongfei, an associate professor at Hangzhou Normal University, some activities that used to be legal are gradually becoming illegal in a fast-changing society, making inheritors a natural victim. But they should not be blamed individually. The law should give them more space to survive by granting them special immunity, the newspaper reported.

The intangible cultural heritage protection center in Hebei has also issued an official explanation, hoping for more national attention on the protection of inheritors.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Jiang Jie, Bianji)

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