China will strengthen efforts to crack down on crimes that damage cultural heritage sites and supervise local governments’ management in the field, the country’s top cultural heritage regulator said on Sept 22.
Liu Yuzhu, head of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, made the pledge following a State Council notice released on Sept 20 strengthening heritage protection nationwide.
Clear responsibilities are set for local governments and heritage protection units and museums, Liu said, adding that county governments have to keep a closer eye on relics in farm fields. It’s to enhance routine checks for safety risks like theft, fire and lightning strikes and ensure maintenance of safety facilities and emergency exercises are put in place.
The administration started a nationwide survey on cultural relics in April. “So far, we have found 21,000 safety risks after checking more than 230,000 museums,” Liu said. Of the risks, 9,507 have been rectified and “rectification plans have been made for the rest”.
Each year since 2014, the country’s police investigate about 2,000 cases related to cultural relics.
But suspects are getting smarter and introducing more intelligent tools, according to the administration.
In 2009, a special department was established within the administration to advance inspection and supervision nationwide.
More than 30,000 people have been employed to strengthen patrols in central and western parts of the country.
Liu Mingwei, the department director, said cultural heritage crimes have been surging in the past few years, which is one reason for the State Council notice.
“More than half of these crimes were digging at ancient tombs and ruins. Some violators even committed violence against our patrols by hitting them or in other ways,” he said. The Ministry of Public Security has launched a national campaign to fight these crimes, which is expected to reinforce the protection of cultural heritage sites, he said.
Meanwhile, cultural heritage protection has been listed as an evaluation for cities when they compete for a national title for economic and cultural recognition, Liu added.