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In its 11th year, Cultural Heritage Day going strong

Author  :  Liu Shaohua     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2016-06-17

The ruins of the Old Summer Palace in Beijing were designated as a public archaeology site for the 11th Cultural Heritage Day on June 11. Beijing launched a public archaeology campaign for the event at which volunteers and visitors can experience the process of scientific archaeology.

On June 11, a variety of activities were held across the nation to celebrate China’s annual Cultural Heritage Day, the theme of which was “Integrating Cultural Heritage into Modern Life” this year. Chengde Imperial Summer Resort in Hebei Province was designated as the host city for this year’s event.

On Dec. 22, 2005, the State Council announced a national Cultural Heritage Day would be celebrated annually on the second Saturday of June starting in 2006, with the theme varying from year to year.

Long before the establishment of the day, similar activities had been held in Henan Province, Suzhou in Jiangsu Province and universities across China. The various local activities were eventually coordinated at the national level to recognize the irreplaceable intellectual heritage of ancient civilizations.

In 2009, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage decided to institute a system for Chinese cities to submit bids to be the main venue for activities. Hangzhou, capital city of Zhejiang Province, was the first host city.

Past host cities were Suzhou, Jining, Zhengzhou, Xianyang, Jingdezhen, and Dazu District in Chongqing Municipality.

For this year’s Cultural Heritage Day, the Ministry of Culture adopted the theme “Strengthening the Protection of Cultural Heritage and Rejuvenating Traditional Crafts” in line with new requirements raised at the fifth plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee, said Ma Shengde, head of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage at the ministry.

The activities included lectures by touring experts on traditional crafts, China-Thailand handicraft exchanges and an intangible cultural heritage lecture month. Meanwhile, more than 800 varieties of exhibitions and promotional campaigns were staged across the country, such as the 2016 Dragon Boat Cultural Festival at the Hometown of Qu Yuan and the second Joint Exhibition of Intangible Cultural Heritage at Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei.

“Cultural Heritage Day is not for memorial purposes. It is a man-made theme day,” said Feng Jicai, a renowned Chinese writer who has been an advocate for Cultural Heritage Day for years.

To popularize the celebration, it is necessary to stress its cultural significance and let the public guide its development, Feng said.

All activities should be for the public good to make the day purely cultural. And all sectors of society, including the cultural heritage community, cultural institutions and educational circles, should contribute to the festival and show concern for inheritors of cultural heritage, Feng said.

Since reform and opening up, Chinese people have attached growing importance to cultural heritage. The government has been making institutional efforts as well.

In 1982, the Law on the Protection of Cultural Relics and related implementation regulations were promulgated. In addition, the Ministry of Culture released more than 30 statutes, including the Administrative Measures for Cultural Heritage Protection Projects. The Law on the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage was issued in 2011. The Chinese government has also joined such international conventions as the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Nonetheless, there is still a huge gap between Chinese practices and advanced experience. “The world needs an economically prosperous China, but the more pressing need is to build a modern China that is more civilized with comprehensive social progress and coordinated development,” Feng said.

“Although our culture is not common to mankind, it should be shared. When protecting our own civilization, we are protecting a huge, precious and irreplaceable treasure for the human race,” he added.

Editor: Yu Hui

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