The State Archives Bureau

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The State Archives Administration of China (SAAC) and the Central Archives was merged as one institution in 1993. Founded in 1954, the SAAC (then named the State Archives Bureau) was directly under the Stated Council, mainly responsible for unified administration of archival work nationwide, providing guidance and exercising supervision over records and archives management of state organs and people's organizations at different levels, and developing archival laws and regulations. Established in 1959, the Central Archives was directly under the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CCCPC) and the State Council, responsible for collecting, arranging, preserving and providing access to those archives of long-term preservation value created by the central agencies of both the Party and Government.

Merging together in October, 1993, the State Archives Administration of China and the Central Archives, perform dual functions which are to administrate the archival cause throughout the country, and to preserve and provide access to archival records of the central agencies. It is directly under the CCCPC and the State Council, at vice-ministrial level and governed by the General Office of the CCCPC.

Its missions include:

1. To exercise overall planning and macro administration over archival work in the whole country; to develop the principles, policies, laws, rules and regulations of archival work; to organize, provide guidance to, inspect, supervise, coordinate archival business conducted by central Party and government agencies, armed forces, mass organizations, as well as provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government.

2. To manage important archival materials created by the central organs of the Party and state, to maintain the integrity of archives and ensure the safety of archival materials in a centralized and unified way.

3. To be responsible for receiving, collecting, arranging and keeping important archival materials of the central organs of the Party and the state; to advance the scientific management and modernization of archival work; to compile, conduct research on and publish archival materials to serve the society; to collect Chinese archival materials dispersed abroad along with archival records and historical materials in relation to China.

4. To map out programs for the development of a well-trained archival work force, to organize continuing education and training for archival professionals; to be responsible for evaluating and conferring professional titles.

5. To organize and provide guidance and coordination of international exchange programs at national level.

At present, there are 322 staff members, 13 departments or offices in the SAAC and the Central Archives, namely: Administration Office, Supervision Department of Archives Institutions and Records Offices, Supervision Department of Economic, Scientific and Technological Archives and Records, Research Department of Policy, Laws and Regulations, Department of Preservation, Reference Service Department, Department of Technology, Logistics and Finance Department, Institutional Party Committee, Department of International Cooperation, Archives Arrangement Center, Information Management Center and Office for retired Personnel.

In addition, there are 7 institutions affiliated to the SAAC, namely: No.1 Historical Archives, No.2 Historical Archives, China Archives News, Institute of Scientific and Technological Research on Archives, Training Center for Archivists, China Archives Magazine and Society of Chinese Archivists.

The system of centralized control and divided level of management is instituted for archival work of China. In addition to the institutions at central level, there are archives administrations and archives in provinces, prefectures and counties at their own level respectively, governed by departments concerned of the Party committees and governments at different levels. By 2009, there are 3,191 state archives at different levels, among which there are 3 at central level, 31 at provincial level, 420 at prefectural and city level and 2,737 at county level. The total holdings of the state archives at different levels account to 213.47 million volumes or 4.18 million linear meters.

For the administration of archival cause throughout the country, we follow the guidance of the Scientific Outlook on Development, implement three strategies which stress people's interest, service and safety; comprehensively promote and improve the system of archives resources reflecting all the people, the access to archives system convenient for the masses and the system of archives safety for ensuring the safeguard of collections, and advance the archival work to better serve various demands of economic, political, cultural and social development.

On the area of preservation and access, we take vigorous action to receive and collect archival records, so as to ensure the completeness and integrity of our holdings. We make active efforts to exploit archival information resources, promoting the full play of archives.

The collection of the Central Archives comprises:

1. Archives created by forerunners of the new-democratic revolution of China when they engaged in great revolutionary activities such as New Cultural Movement, publicizing Marxism in China, preparing the establishment of the CPC in the period from the May 4th Movement in 1919 to the founding of the CPC in July ,1921.

2. Archives created by the CCCPC and it's subordinate organs and agencies in their activities in different periods since the founding of the CPC in July, 1921, including the following: archives of all previous National Congresses, delegates meetings, special sessions and all previous plenary sessions of the CPC; various kinds of resolutions, decisions, instructions and announcements and so on, issued by the CCCPC; correspondence between the CPC and foreign parties etc.

3. Archives created by Soviet red regimes, democratic regimes of resistance against Japanese aggression, democratic regimes in liberated areas established in succession in various regions since the Second Revolutionary Civil War.

4. Archives created by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the State Council and ministries, commissions, institutions directly under the State Council and the China people Political Consultative Conference, since the founding of the PRC in October, 1949. Among which are: documents relating to preparing the founding of new China, documents on drawing up and amending of the Constitution; resolutions, decisions, instructions, orders issued by the State Council, plans for national economy drawn up by the state etc.

5. Archives and materials created by national people's organizations, such as All-China Federation of Trade Unions, All-China Women's Federation, Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China etc.

6. Archives and materials such as manuscripts, letters, diaries, created by the Party and state leaders, as well as proletarian revolutionaries and famous social activists. In which there are over 40 thousand manuscripts of Chairman Mao Zedong, being the most numerous and relatively the most complete.

By 2010, the Central Archives holds 1,250 thousand volumes of records, approximately more than 100 million pages with a total shelf length of over 13.774 thousand meters. Besides, there are 160 thousand photographs, more than 16 thousand reels of magnetic tapes and videotapes, and over 3,900 discs of electronic records. The Central Archives keeps 2,340 thousands volumes of materials such as newspapers, periodicals and books. These archival holdings were mainly received from organs of the Central Committee and the state. Some of these archives were collected from institutions and individuals at home and abroad, or donated by individuals.

The following are the features of these archives:

1. They are all archives of the CPC and PRC, that is archives created by the CPC in the period of the new-democratic revolution and after the founding of PRC. The archives generated by the previous regimes before 1949 are not in our custody. We divide historical archives into different periods. The Ming and Qing dynasty archives are preserved by the No.1 Historical Archives, and those of the Republic Period are preserved in the No. 2 Historical Archives.

2. Uniform management over the party and government archives, that is not only archives of the CPC, but also archives created by the government organs under the CPC. From 1959, we started to exercise the integrated management system over the archives of the party and the government. Therefore in state archive institutions at all levels in China, there are collections of the ruling party and the government.

3. The creating agencies are of higher level. What we have in our custody are mainly the archives of the central agencies. There are very few local government archives. The reason is that we implement divided level of management. The records generated by the local government go to the local state archives.

4. Most of the archives in our custody are official documents instead of specialized archives. Because in addition to comprehensive archives institutions, we also established specialized archives in China. For instance, we have China Photography Archives and China Film Archives in the central and government agencies. As special functional requirements, the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Public Security Ministry established their own archives to be responsible for the long-term preservation of their own records

5. Most of our holdings were created before 1990. We have very few archives of the recent 20 years. Based on the life cycle theory and to facilitate access, it is stipulated that the archives of the central government agencies shall be transferred to the Central Archives 20 years after their creation. Therefore the current records generated after 1990 by the central government agencies and state-owned companies at the central level are now in the custody of the creating agencies. Only a few have been transferred to us ahead of schedule.

6. All the archives here are to be preserved permanently. Not all the records created by the agencies will be transferred to the Central Archives. What we have are those evaluated as permanent. The records of short-term value will remain in the storage of the creating agencies.

The archival holdings in the Central Archives are the authentic record of the history of CPC and the PRC. They are the primary sources for the study of the history of CPC, New China and China in modern times.

We have taken a series of measures to ensure the safety of the archives, including disinfection before storage, regular check, installation of alarm systems, automatic fire extinguishers, humidity and temperature control devices and monitoring facilities etc. Besides we have implemented the system that no one is allowed to enter the stack area alone. We restore the damaged archives timely and only provide duplicates to the users so as to preserve the originals.

In order to give full play to the value and role of archives, we have always stuck to the principle of serving the overall interest of the party and the state, serving all sectors of the society and the general public. We have tried every means to provide services to all sectors of the society and to meet the needs of the public. .

Firstly, we receive on site visitors. Users who bear an introduction letter from a relevant organization may apply to use the archives. We have received 5418 users introduced by over 1900 institutions in the past 5 years. The total archival materials provided amount to 86,626 volumes or files. The users include the creating agencies, task groups entrusted to compile collected works, year book or biography of the party and state leaders, party and state history institutions, memorial halls etc. There are also scholars, cultural workers as well as common citizens.

Secondly, we provide consulting services. Users may put forward their requests by phone calls or letters. We will help to search the archives accordingly, and send the copies of the materials to them as requested after we receive their application formalities. We will also inform those users if we fail to locate the materials they wanted.

Thirdly, we hold exhibitions. We often organize exhibitions on major commemoration events independently or jointly with other organizations to publicize archives. In 2009, in cooperation with the International Communication Office of the CPC Central Committee and other institutions, we organized an exhibition in the Minzu Cultural Palace to mark the 50th anniversary of the democratic reform of Tibet. We provided 140 pieces of documents for the exhibition, which was visited by more than 360,000 people including the party and state leaders, representatives of the People's Congress and the Political Consultative conference, overseas journalists and diplomatic envoys.

Fourthly, we publish compilations. We tried to make public the archives materials in our custody by books, newspapers, journals, CD and disks. Examples include the 18 volume Selected Documents of the Communist Party Central Committee, which collected the documents and annex issued by the Communist Party Central Committee from the birth of CPC in 1921 to the founding of PRC, with a total of 5.80 million characters. The Selected Archives Materials on Economics in the People's Republic of China has 20 volumes more than 13 million characters. Twenty-Four Histories with Mao Zedong's Notes and Comments has 175 volumes and 40 million characters. To date, the archives materials we have compiled and published in the past 30 years have reached more than 80 million characters.

Fifthly, we make documentary TV films. From 1999, we have produced a lot of documentary films based on our collections, broadcasted on CCTV and local televisions, as well as published CDs. For example, in 2001, to mark the 80th anniversary of the founding of the CPC, in cooperation with Beijing TV, we produced a 365-series documentary film entitled Red Flag Fluttering: Today in the History of CPC. This program was broadcasted every day for a whole year in 25 provincial TV stations and a dozen city level TV stations. It was also published through internet, radio programs and newspapers. In 2003, to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the birth of Mao Zedong, we produced a 110-series TV documentary entitled Mao Zedong's 110 Stories which was broadcasted on CCTV and published CDs and books. This year, to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of CPC, jointly with the Audio-visual Publishing House of the Central Education and Science Institute, we produced a 30-serial documentary films entitled Opening Up an New Era in 90 Years. Up to now, we have shot over 10 documentary TV serials based on our holdings. The total length reaches 160 hours..

Sixthly, we produce motion images and release them on internet. In March 2008, in order to correct some people's misconception on the issue of Tibet, we produced 5 groups of images by using the archives on how the central government exercised administration over Tibet by appointing officials and levying taxes in different historical period, archives on conferring title to each Dalai Lama since the Ming dynasty, and on the slave trade in Tibet before the democratic reform. The images were released on our website and posted by over 300 Chinese and 100 English websites. In 2009, we released over 50 series of images on specialized subjects on our website based on the archives before 1949. These images have been posted by many major websites and visited by more than 200 million people over the year. Last year and this year, we continued to produce and release visual programs on the internet.

Seventhly, we took initiative to provide reference information to state leaders and relevant government departments. In recent years, whenever a major disaster or incident occurs, we would compile the data in our collections and send it to relevant leaders and departments for reference. For instance, after the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, we searched and complied the materials on earthquake relief and reconstruction into several subjects and provided them to the government leaders and the headquarter for disaster relief. Some of the materials were also put on the internet.

In addition to the above mentioned services, we set up a Central Government Information Service Center at No. 106 Yong'an Lu, to facilitate the public access to the released information of the ministries and commissions under the State Council.

Through various means of access, archival materials are given due play in helping scientific decision-making, safeguarding state sovereignty and interests, promoting economic, social and cultural development, and patriotic and civil education, safeguarding public interests and building up social harmony.

Currently, we are accessioning the records scheduled to be transferred to us, digitizing paper archives, compiling the selected Documents of the Communist Party Central Committee after 1949, renewing air-conditioning and ventilation system, further improving the security system, so as to scale a new height in our work and to better fulfill our mission.

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