The State Council held a policy briefing on Sept 22 concerning a circular recently released by the government, which called for more protection of cultural relics. Liu Yuzhu, head of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, and Liu Mingwei, a senior official with the department, were invited to elaborate on more details.
The circular called for strengthening daily inspection on cultural relics to crack down on criminal acts, stronger protective capabilities with technological support, and asked social forces to participate in supervision, Liu Yuzhu said. An accountability system will be established to make sure related departments live up to their responsibilities, according to the document.
Starting this April, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage carried out a nationwide probe on the general condition of cultural relics, covering a total of 230,000 museums up till now, with 5,145 key relics protection unites included, he said.
As a result, 21,000 samples were detected with security risks, among which 9,507 were addressed while an action plan has been made for the rest.
The probe also revealed that a total of 279 illegal cases in which SOEs or corporations should shoulder major responsibility, such as one relocation project in Henan province that caused damages to key cultural relics. Another example appeared in the city of Harbin, Heilongjiang province, where seven pieces of cultural relics were illegally demolished.
According to Liu Mingwei, since 2014, an average of more than 2,000 criminal cases on cultural relics have been recorded by the public security departments annually, and more than half of them involved with illegal digging of buried treasure on ancient sites which also sometimes turned into violence cases.
Recently, the Ministry of Public Security has achieved great results through enhanced efforts to crack down on criminal acts in such field. It also released a list of 10 notorious grave robbers wanted for arrest nationwide, the first time of such kind in practice.
Liu Yuzhu said a long-term mechanism is being set up for the safe preservation of cultural heritage. An inter-ministerial meeting on cultural heritage safety has been organized, which includes 16 ministries, and has been held regularly in recent past years. Significant cases and information would be discussed at the meetings.
A judicial interpretation has been issued by the Supreme People’s Court and Supreme People’s Procuratorate on the laws concerning crimes on cultural heritage, an operable one to guide judicial organs in punishing crimes in this field.
An information platform has been set up jointly by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage and Ministry of Public Security that collects information about cultural heritage crimes across the nation.
Cultural heritage safety has been regarded as a factor in the selection of national civilized cities, he said.
He also said the State Administration of Cultural Heritage paid great attention to the protection of ancient villages and have organized a survey on the status quo of ancient villages across the nation.
The revitalization of ancient villages is as important as protection, and good practices should be promoted to better protect the villages during urbanization, he added.