China will invest 20 million yuan (US$2.4 million) this year in national and folk culture preservation, said Vice Culture Minister Zhou Heping in Lijiang City, southwestern China’s Yunnan Province.
Zhou said this at the closure of a national meeting of the Preservation Program of the National and Folk Culture of China (PPNFCC), lasting from April 12 to 16 in Dali and Lijiang, two famous tourist cities of Yunnan Province.
According to Zhou, this is the first year for the program to be listed in the central financial budget.
In 2002 and 2003, the Ministry of Finance has appropriated a special fund of six million yuan (US$722,892) for the start-up and investigation of the project, which was launched in 2003, said Zhou.
Some local finance including that of Zhejiang and Heilongjiang provinces and Chongqing Municipality has also put the national and folk culture preservation in the local budget, and has appropriated special fund for the preservation work.
"Since 2003 when the preservation program was launched, great improvements have been made in China's national and folk culture preservation," said Zhou.
As a result of these efforts, China's seven-stringed plucked instrument music was listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) among the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2003, after the entrance of China's Kunqu Opera in 2001.
Zhou calls for the legislation on national and folk culture preservation at the closure.
According to Zhou, the establishment of a national law on national and folk culture preservation is underway. The draft made by the Ministry of Culture has been listed in the legislation timetable of the National People's Congress.
"Regions having issued local regulation on national and folk culture preservation such as Yunnan and Guizhou provinces should strengthen the popularization and implementation of the law, whilethose regions whose drafting work is still underway or hasn't begun should expedite the legislation work," said Zhou.
"The diversity of China's national and folk culture is being challenged by values and life style from the West," said Zhou.
"Now many youth are wild about celebrating western holidays such as the Christmas and the Valentine's Day, while many traditional days of the Chinese containing great cultural meaning are neglected," said Zhou.
Moreover, a large amount of valuable national and folk cultural resources has been and is still being lost overseas in various way.
"The launch of the program is an important strategic move of the Chinese government to protect the splendid culture heritage of China and to maintain the cultural diversity," said Zhou.
At the meeting lasting for five days, the Ministry of Culture proclaimed the second group of the 29 pilot cities of the PPNFCC. Along with the 10 cities of the first group proclaimed in October 2003, the pilot city list has covered nearly all regions around the country.
From 2004, the program will be carried out in three stages. The first stage beginning from 2004 to 2008 is the experimental and endangered culture salvage stage. During the period from 2009 to 2013 the program will be carried out in full swing and some cultural heritage will be selected for major protection. From 2014 to 2020, the preservation system will get further supplement and improvement.
"The preservation of national and folk culture will be of great significance to the inheriting and development of the Chinese culture, but also to the harmonious development between the local economic and social development," said Zhou.
(Xinhua News Agency April 18, 2004)