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Officials should study laws on cultural heritage

Updated: Mar 6,2015 12:01 PM

Feng Jicai, famed writer, heritage campaigner and CPPCC member, has suggested Chinese leaders and officials study laws on the protection of intangible cultural heritage and cultural relics and better enforce them.

“In my proposal there is a suggestion that our officials must study the laws, because one of the important points of the ‘Four Comprehensives’ strategy is to run state affairs under the rule of law. On culture, our country has two laws: one is the Cultural Relics Protection Law and the other is the Law for Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection,” said Feng, who is known for writing stories of his hometown Tianjin.

The “Four Comprehensives” strategy, outlined by Chinese President Xi Jinping, includes comprehensive efforts to build a moderately prosperous society, deepen reform, advance the rule of law and strictly run the Party.

China passed the Cultural Relics Protection Law in 1982, and the Law for Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection in 2011, but not a single case of enforcement has been reported, said Feng.

“Our government has many protective measures, but why does local government not implement them? Many cultural heritages are now facing a crisis. In many places, bulldozers knock down the cultural relics in spite of protection laws. For what? What’s the reason? Besides the factors of economic interest and some officials’ unawareness of the value of traditional culture, one of the reasons should be that they didn’t have the laws in mind,” said Feng.

Feng puts great importance on administration according to the law in cultural heritage protection. He also suggested the government adds the implementation of the two laws into key factors of annual appraisal for local officials, and build an accountability mechanism for local governments.

China is home to millions of historically significant villages, but once-resourceful and diverse cultures are dying at a stunning speed. In 2009, Feng initiated the first Intangible Cultural Heritage Data Base Center, keeping a digital record of the folklore of ancient villages, including legends, operas, riddles and living customs.

“The safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage is a long-term task. We should take good care of the precious heritage left by our ancestors,” said Feng, who has dedicated himself to the protection of cultural heritage for years.

When talking of pop culture and traditional culture, Feng said innovation is necessary to meet aesthetic standards, but the essence of classics should be carefully selected and preserved.