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Speech at the Cultural Ministers’ Joint Meeting of the Asia Culture Cooperation Forum

chinadaily 2013-10-30

Cai Wu

Minister of Culture, the People’s Republic of China


The splendid cultures and arts created by the diligent and intelligent Asian peoples are exquisite works in the treasure-house of world civilizations. The Asian peoples are natural lovers of culture and life, and the colorful cultures and arts are not only decorations but also an integral part of our diversified life. We need culture as an indispensable part of our life and we need art as the fabric of culture. Therefore, it has become an important task for all nations and governments to guarantee the basic cultural rights and interests of our people, to benefit them with the rich fruits of culture and arts, to improve the quality of life of the people, to enhance their sense of happiness, to safeguard social stability and development and to foster the cultural and social prosperity and progress of not only our own nations but all humanity. This ministerial conference, the theme of which is “Living in Arts and Arts in Living”, provides a very good platform for us to exchange views and ideas.

China is a member of the Asia family. Thanks to thousands of years’ hard work by our ancestors, we have now been blessed with the diverse, splendid, extensive and profound Chinese culture. The Chinese government attaches great importance to cultural development and regards it as one part of the “Four in One” development layout as important as the other three: political, economic and social development. At the same time, we believe that culture and arts must grow from the people as well as serve the people to ensure their long-standing prosperity. As Mr. Deng Xiaoping said, “Our culture and arts belong to the people.” In recent years, our government has made it clear that we will speed up the construction and improvement of a nationwide public cultural service network, consistently improve the quality of public cultural service, and practically enable the broad masses to enjoy good health, build good character, increase wisdom and knowledge and cultivate good virtues, so that the whole nation will have a more refined cultural mind and build a harmonious society. All these will help to guarantee the basic cultural rights and interests of the people and satisfy their growing need for culture.

Given the opportunity of this forum, I would like to share with you some practices of our country in building the national public cultural service network and safeguarding the basic cultural rights and interests of our people.

First, the fundamental principles of publicly beneficial cultural undertakings have been set as the following: the cultural undertakings should be for the public good, ensure the most basic cultural rights and interests of the people and seek balanced and convenient availability of their services. Non-profit public cultural institutions should play the main role in facilitating these services under the leadership of the government, relying mostly on public finance and encouraging active participation of the whole society as well as the innovation of service methods. In addition, priority should be given to the grass roots when developing the non-profit public cultural undertakings.

Second, cultural infrastructure construction has been greatly strengthened on all levels. With the growth of public budget in China, there has been a steady increase of input for cultural infrastructure construction. A great number of key cultural projects have been built and put into use in recent years, including the National Grand Theatre, the Second Phase of the National Library of China and Digital Library, Mei Lanfang Grand Theatre of the National Peking Opera Company and Tianqiao Theatre, and the National Museum of China is also being expanded. Meanwhile, some other projects like the expanded National Art Museum, the Museum of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Museum of Crafts and Fine Arts are also underway, and a lot of provinces and municipalities have built iconic cultural infrastructure in their central areas. We have reached the objective of equipping every county with at least one library and one cultural centre, and have established 26,700 township level cultural stations either through new construction or expansion. Up to 2008, we have had a nationwide public cultural service network covering both urban and rural areas, with 2,819 public libraries, 3,217 cultural centers (with cultural houses included), 37,938 cultural stations and 247,332 cultural rooms (village or community level).

Third, steadily enhance the capacities of public cultural institutions for better services. One of the most important initiatives towards this goal is the free admission policy for public cultural venues. By the end of 2008, altogether 1,007 museums and memorial sites have offered free admission to the public, attracting 154 million visitors. Apart from that, many local cultural institutions have focused on reforming their cultural centers, libraries and cultural stations, improving on both the methods and effects of their services to cater for the needs of rural areas. For example, the use of mobile cultural facilities such as travelling stage trucks, travelling libraries and travelling cinemas which provide flexible and outdoor services as a complement to in-house services, extending the outreach of public cultural services to rural and isolated communities.

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