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AFS Review: Notes

Top Ten Events Related to Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in 2016 in China

Thursday, January 26, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lorraine Cashman
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By Juwen Zhang (Willamette University) --

Editor’s Note: When UNESCO proposed the Convention [an international treaty] for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2003, China was one of the first nations to sign it. [See .] Since that time China has been extremely active, not only in proposing elements of Chinese traditional culture for inclusion on UNESCO’s official international register, but also on recognizing examples of traditional cultural expression and supporting ICH work at the national, provincial, and local levels.


According to the Chinese Culture Journal (中国文化报,, p. 8, Jan. 20, 2017), a newspaper published by China’s Ministry of Culture, the top ten most important events related to ICH in 2016, selected by the Institute of Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, are as follows:


1. Chinese Solar Terms Designated an ICH Item by UNESCO

These 24 terms, encapsulating knowledge of time and practices developed through observation of the sun’s annual motion, were inscribed in 2016 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, UNESCO’s official list of internationally accepted examples of ICH. [See]


2. Increased Stipend for Tradition Bearers

Tradition bearers began to receive a governmental stipend of RMB8,000 per person per year [about $1,170 US] in 2008, which later increased to RMB10,000 [about $1,450 US] in 2011. This year, the stipend increased to RMB20,000 per person per year [about $2,900 US]. 


3. Renaming the "Cultural and Natural Heritage Day”

The second Saturday of June was established as "Cultural Heritage Day” in 2006. Starting in 2017, this day will be called "Cultural and Natural Heritage Day.”


4.  Training Program Grows

The Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education launched a program of training ICH tradition bearers in January 2016, along with 57 higher education institutions. 160 training sessions were held during 2016, and more than 10,000 tradition bearers participated.


5.  White Book of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine Law

The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) white book was first issued by the State Council in December 2016. The new Traditional Chinese Medicine Law was passed by the Congress in December 2016.


6. Publication of the Grand Collection of the Kunqu Art

The Kunqu Art (Kun Opera), a performing art popular in South China, was listed as the Representative Item of Human Oral and Intangible Heritage by UNESCO in 2001, the first in China. Since then, many efforts from various sources have been made to safeguard this tradition. The Grand Collection of the Kunqu Art was published in December 2016, as a result of reviving this tradition.


7.  The ICH Blue Book

The first blue book of Chinese ICH Development Report was issued in November 2016 by the Institute of Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage, Sun Yat-sen University.


8. The ICH Forum between China and Central and Eastern Europe

The Forum was held in October 2016, by the Ministry of Culture in China, and the Department of Culture and Heritage in Poland. 


9. The ICH Convention Training Class

The ICH Department of the Ministry of Culture organized training classes on the ICH for the administrators in departments of culture in central government in October 2016.


10. The ICH Department in the Cultural Property Right Exchange Center

A specific department was established in the Cultural Property Right Exchange Center in Shenzhen in June 2016, the first in China for coordinating ICH resources, commercialization, internationalization, and for exchanging property rights. 


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