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Gears up for ICH protection

A flurry of culturally-enriched performances, marking China's third Cultural Heritage Day, were held in the Cultural Palace of Nationalities in downtown Beijing from June to September, 2008, as part of the government's drive to raise public awareness of the need to protect the minority culture, whose survival has been highlighted by the Wenchuan earthquake.

"Intangible cultural heritage" should be better protected under moves being made to preserve endangered art. This is according to State Council member Chen Zhili, who said in June that nine ministries and departments would launch joint efforts to safeguard certain forms of heritage.

Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng also stressed at a two-day working conference on heritage protection in Beijing that local culture departments should undertake preservation in good faith instead of with the sole goal of fueling local tourism or enhancing publicity. "Protecting intangible culture in China is of great importance to maintaining a diversified world," Chen said. "It's also part of China's efforts to safeguard the nation's cultural identity."

Intangible cultural heritage protection is drawing increasing attention from China's senior leadership.

Since 2003, the Chinese Government has earmarked 46 million yuan (US$5.6 million) for a special project designed to preserve important cultural forms. But it has not yet been decided which cultural art forms are most in need of funds for protection.

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