China has invested a total of 236 million yuan (about 32 million U.S. dollars) over the last five years in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, the culture ministry said.
The Ministry of Culture said in a report posted on its official website that it has been increasing spending on intangible cultural heritage protection since 2003.
The ministry allocated a special fund of six million yuan for intangible cultural heritage protection in 2003. The funding rose to 20 million yuan in 2004, and reached 90 million yuan last year.
Kunqu Opera alone, a 500-year-old "masterpiece" of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity listed by UNESCO in 2001 for its graceful movements and poetic lyrics, received a total of 50 million yuan in subsidies.
China is home to four items listed by UNESCO as world intangible cultural heritage: the Kunqu Opera; the 3,000-year-old guqin seven-string zither; the Twelve Mukams, a 12-part suite of ancient Uygur music; and the Pastoral Song sung by a Mongolian ethnic group.
The country established an national "Cultural Heritage Day" to be celebrated annually on the second Saturday of June, to encourage public awareness of cultural heritage protection.
It announced its first list of 518 state-level intangible cultural heritage items, including the Spring Festival, Peking Opera, acupuncture, and Shaolin Kungfu, in 2006.
(Xinhua News Agency March 6, 2008)