Bookworms and culture vultures are to reap the benefits of a cultural fund to build more than 600 libraries and community centers within four years.
According to a document released by the Ministry of Culture, 100 million yuan (US$12.05 million) will be allocated each year to the construction of facilities.
It will enable 282 new libraries and 338 culture centers to be built -- while 176 libraries and 163 centers with an area of about 300 square meters will be expanded.
The move is expected to improve the situation in some poverty-stricken counties where no library or culture center exists in China's western region, the document said.
The ministry will also continue to cooperate with the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television to implement a project aiming to show at least one movie per month in every village. The project is expected to boost film viewing among farmers who rarely get a break from tending their crops.
The ministry is also encouraging the generation of more plays by setting up a special fund.
The project targets the creation of 50 masterpiece plays by 2005 and covers all art theatres around the country.
It has an assigned annual budget of 40 million yuan (US$4.82 million) until 2005, according to an official surnamed Zhou with the ministry's Department of Arts.
Legislation on the culture sector will continue to be strengthened this year. A series of laws and regulations are being researched and drafted, including the law on the protection of folk and traditional culture, a law on libraries and the regulation on the management of public cultural and physic exercise facilities.
The administration of cultural exchanges with foreign countries will also be perfected through new rules on the management of foreign countries setting cultural centers and multinational culture events.
The strengthening of legislation in the field corresponds with the country's strategy of promoting Chinese culture and arts in the world.
In March, a meeting between cultural ministers of member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization -- China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan -- will be held.
A series of cultural events will also be held this year to commemorate the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations established between China and Japan and the 10th anniversary of that between China and the Republic of Korea.
(China Daily February 19, 2002)