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Protect Our Heritage
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The first international non-material cultural heritage festival opening today in Chengdu, capital city of southwest China's Sichuan Province, is of significance for both the past and the future.

As the first event of its kind worldwide, this occasion showcases more than 1,000 cultural heritage treasures from different parts of the country and the world, along with some 200 folk artists and craftspeople who will demonstrate their unique talents.

In addition, more than 50 free performances will be staged during the festival.

These activities will be an eye opener not only to the Chinese audience but also to the rest of world on how our cultural heritage reflects the wisdom of those who came before us.

As cultural heritage is closely related to the daily life of a people, the concentrated showcasing of these many non-material cultural heritage offerings will bring home the necessity of protecting them from extinction.

The artistic performances and craftsmanship embody the fragmentary history of people of different ethnic groups.

To protect this heritage is to keep the fragmentary records of our history, tracing the roots of different cultures.

Passing on the skills of older artists and craftspeople to young apprentices is key to protecting this fragile heritage.

Performing arts such as kunqu opera, the creation and playing of ancient stringed instruments such as the guqin, and the folk songs of ethnic minorities are badly in need of young people who can love them and learn the unique skills to pass them down to future generations.

The Chinese government has done a great deal to rescue this heritage from extinction. But few young people are familiar with these cultural treasures, to say nothing of learning the skills to keep them alive.

An annual event, this festival will help create interest in this heritage and its future.

In this global village, protection of the world's non-material cultural heritage is of special significance to the cultural identity of different peoples and to the understanding that a harmonious culture must be built on the basis of diversified cultures.

(China Daily May 23, 2007)

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