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How does China top UNESCO's Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage?

(People's Daily Online)    10:41, November 08, 2019

Chinese Shadow Play (Photo/People's Daily Online)

By September 2019, China had seen 40 items of its intangible cultural heritage included in the Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), ranking first in the world.

With 32 items included on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, seven in the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, and one in the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices, China has become an important driving force for communication and mutual learning among civilizations.

Such items of China's intangible cultural heritage as the Guqin, a seven-string traditional Chinese instrument with a history of more than 3,000 years, acupuncture and moxibustion of traditional Chinese medicine, Peking opera, Chinese seal engraving, Chinese calligraphy, and Chinese traditional architectural craftsmanship for timber-framed structures are all on UNESCO's list of world intangible cultural heritage, regarded as living wealth and cultural treasures which can be shared by humanity.

In 2001, UNESCO proclaimed the first batch of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, with Kunqu opera, a Chinese performing art, topping the list of 19 items selected from all over the world with a unanimous vote.

Two years later, the General Conference of UNESCO passed the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage at its 32nd session. So far, 178 countries have become contracting countries to the Convention.

China has always been an outstanding performer in its obligations under the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Since joining the Convention in 2004, the country has made great efforts to improve its legal system and working mechanisms concerning the protection of intangible cultural heritage.

China has established a comprehensive system consisting of an investigation system, a four-level directory system comprising of intangible cultural heritages at county level, city level, provincial level and national level, identification of representative inheritors, and China Cultural Heritage Day.

In June 2005, China carried out the first general survey of intangible cultural heritage across the country. By June 2009, China's entries of resources of intangible cultural heritage amounted to nearly 870,000, according to the then Ministry of Culture of China (now Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China).

In recent years, documentaries on intangible cultural heritage, such as Masters in The Forbidden City, The Great Shokunin, and The Tale of Chinese Medicine, sprung up in China, bringing people closer to the charm of intangible cultural heritage.

While science and technology help create profound changes in China, they are also revealing more enchantment of intangible cultural heritage in the new era.

With the development of core technologies in such areas as big data, artificial intelligence, mobile communication, the internet, high-speed railway, and aviation, intangible cultural heritage in China has been spread more efficiently, meaning traditional Chinese culture has been pushed into the modern day with vitality.

As the representative of traditional Chinese culture, China's intangible cultural heritage has won wide attention from various international conferences, exhibitions and international cultural exchange activities around the world.  

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

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