Periodic reporting on the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

The Convention provides in Article 29 that States Parties shall submit to the Committee reports on the legislative, regulatory and other measures taken for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage in their territories. Current page presents the periodic reports and deadlines of a country: China (see overview on all States Parties).

Periodic reporting on the implementation of the Convention allows States Parties to assess their implementation of the Convention, evaluate their capacities for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, report on their inventories of intangible cultural heritage and update the status of elements inscribed on the Representative List.

When elements are inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, the submitting State Party commits itself to take safeguarding measures aimed at strengthening the viability of the heritage concerned. Four years after inscription, the State Party reports to the Committee on the current situation of the element, the effectiveness of the safeguarding measures it has implemented, and the challenges it has encountered.


On the implementation of the Convention

Each State Party submits its periodic report to the Committee by 15 December of the sixth year following the year in which it deposited its instrument of ratification.

Report submitted on 15/12/2017 and examined by the Committee in 2018 (originally due by 15/12/2016)

Overview

China, with its long history, has rich and diverse intangible cultural heritage. The Chinese Government attaches great importance to the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage and fully supports UNESCO’s efforts to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage of humanity. China has been participates actively in international actions and made its due contributions to the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity. On February 25, 2011, the Intangible Cultural Heritage Law of the People’s Republic of China was adopted at the 19th Session of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People’s Congress, which provides a solid guarantee for the long-term implementation and effective operation of the intangible cultural heritage safeguarding policies. From 2011 to 2016, nineteen more provinces (including autonomous regions and municipalities) have successively introduced their own intangible cultural heritage safeguarding regulations, thus bringing the total of provinces (including autonomous regions and municipalities) that have local intangible cultural heritage safeguarding regulations to twenty-four.
The Outline for Cultural Reform and Development during the Twelfth Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) issued by the Chinese Government mapped out the overall plan for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage. The document clarified that the main goals of cultural reform and development during the Twelfth Five-Year Plan were to comprehensively strengthen the work related to the intangible cultural heritage with effective safeguarding as the premise and to strive to promote the creative transformation and innovative development of traditional Chinese culture, among which the revitalization of traditional crafts had already been written into the Chinese Government’s working papers.
In 2012, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Culture jointly issued the Measures on the Management of the Special Funds for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, and established the said special funds. The funds are to support the national representative elements, the national representative bearers and the national Pilot Areas for Cultural Ecological Reserve for their surveys, documentation, preservation, research, transmission and dissemination. The funds can also be used to launch safeguarding and management work of intangible cultural heritage which include planning and drafting, investigation and research, promotion and publishing, training, database construction, and consultation. The National Development and Reform Commission has made relevant plans and programs to support the construction of facilities for safeguarding and utilization, and to promote dynamic safeguarding and transmission. In recent years, bearing in mind such concepts of safeguarding while improving, bringing intangible cultural heritage back to modern life, and ecological safeguarding that integrates intangible cultural heritage with daily life of the people, the Chinese Government has taken a series of safeguarding actions:
First, the Chinese Government has strengthened support and funding to heritage bearers and related practitioners. The efforts include the urgent documentation with 571 national representative bearers, continuous increase of financial support to national representative bearers for their practice and transmission activities ( In 2016 the subsidy for said activities reached 20,000 RMB per person), funding for the establishment of 107 facilities for the safeguarding and utilization of intangible cultural heritage, and the initiative of Study and Training Program for Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage Bearers, in which formal and non-formal education were integrated through intergenerational transmission with entrusted institutions of higher education, heritage bearers, and practitioners participating in the training and exchange activities, so as to realize enhanced viability.
Second, the Chinese Government has promoted the revitalization of traditional crafts. For traditional crafts and their traditional commercial activities, the Chinese Government has focused on the sustainability potential of the elements through production, circulation and trade. With the revitalization project of time-honored brands and the improvement of the safeguarding system, the government has promoted transmission and recreation of seventy-three traditional crafts that are on the National List of Representative Intangible Cultural Heritage Elements. 100 national intangible cultural heritage production and safeguarding demonstration bases were established and multiple national exhibitions were held. Through the China Traditional Crafts Revitalization Plan, numerous policies and measures related to inventorying, talents training, industry support, market expansion, technology development, intellectual property rights protection, and the cooperation between traditional handicraftsmen and enterprises and universities have been proposed. As a result, the transmission, development and recreation of traditional crafts have improved and the cultural welfare enjoyed by the community and the public has been greatly enhanced.
Third, efforts have been made to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage as a whole. Eight national cultural and ecological safeguarding experimental zones have been newly established to support local governments’ efforts to safeguard the elements and the natural ecological and cultural environment that ensures the viability as a whole. They have become safeguarding areas with enriched heritage sources, a strong safeguarding atmosphere, outstanding features and benefits for communities that have facilitated sustainable development of intangible cultural heritage in economic, social, and environmental dimensions. In addition, 4,153 villages have been identified as traditional Chinese Villages and carefully safeguarded with due respect for the villagers, as well as their lifestyle and cultural context, so that the viability and intergenerational transmission of intangible cultural heritage are to be ensured.
Fourth, the Chinese Government has made efforts to actively launch bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international intangible cultural heritage cooperation programs. From 2011 to 2016, international cooperation and exchanges were made with regards to the safeguarding and utilization of intangible cultural heritage between China and dozens of countries. Efforts on joint study, training, information sharing and mutual learning activities have enhanced mutual understanding and recognition. In regions of Africa and Eastern Europe, as well as in Japan and the Republic of Korea, cooperation network between communities, experts and research centers was greatly promoted through various activities including forums, seminars, and training courses. China actively participated in relevant international meetings and organized activities like the International Festival of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Chengdu, thus establishing regular platforms for the safeguarding and exchanges of intangible cultural heritage.
China has drafted this report in accordance with the requirements of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO concerning periodic reporting by states parties. This report includes three parts. The first part, drafted by the Chinese Central Government, primarily covers the Chinese Government’s efforts to implement the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (hereinafter referred to as “the Convention”) since the last report, including the current status of all elements included on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The second part, drafted by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, addresses the implementation of the Convention by Hong Kong SAR. The third part, drafted by the Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, addresses the implementation of the Convention by Macao SAR.
The report has drawn on a wealth of materials provided by the communities and bearers concerned with those elements. In addition, scholars and experts of various fields, as well as relevant NGOs have also contributed to the preparation of the report.
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSARG) attaches great importance to the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) and has been implementing various administrative measures to protect ICH covering the scope of identification, documentation, research, preservation, promotion and transmission of the heritage; as well as the compilation of a territory-wide ICH inventory and the representative list of ICH for Hong Kong.
Macao Special Administrative Region
The Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China has developed and applied measures to safeguard its intangible cultural heritage by complying with several national guidelines: ‘to focus on protection; salvaging as a priority step; to ensure respectful practices and to transmit and sustainably develop intangible cultural heritage’. Safeguarding measures were developed by the Macao SAR government immediately after the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage came into effect in Macao under the Chief Executive’s Dispatch No. 32/2006. Since 2006, the Cultural Affairs Bureau, being the competent body for implementing the Convention, has worked towards the establishment of a legal framework for the local intangible cultural heritage, conducting relevant surveys and studies, preparing submission files, supporting practitioners, and strengthening heritage promotion and education. Following much effort, Macao currently has ten elements identified as intangible cultural heritage, of which eight have been included in the Representative List of China’s National Intangible Cultural Heritage and one is in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Effective since March 1, 2014, the Macao’s Cultural Heritage Protection Law encompasses intangible cultural heritage within its legal protection scope, marking a milestone on the preservation of heritage. As a consequence, heritage safeguarding works have been made by the Macao SAR government, including surveying and drafting of lists. The government has also pushed for safeguarding efforts to take place on a broader scale regarding the sustainable development and continuous transmission of intangible heritage. This has been done through various means, such as policy making, research projects, offering subsidies for heritage related activities and encouraging heritage transmission, in addition to holding annual festivities. As the result of a joint effort made by Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, the ‘Yueju Opera (Cantonese Opera)’ was included in the Representative List of China’s National Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2006 and was inscribed by UNESCO on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009. The success of the inscription has raised social attention to the Yueju Opera (Cantonese Opera), and encouraged its safeguarding and transmission. In recent years, different government departments have progressively increased their investment in opera development, organised large-scale performances and heritage safeguarding was enhanced through a co-operation mechanism between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao. Meanwhile, the community has been sparing no efforts in promoting and preserving Yueju Opera (Cantonese Opera), with local opera groups holding performances, together with training and promotional activities for the ongoing transmission of the heritage. These initiatives are helping to cultivate the young generations’ interest in Yueju Opera (Cantonese Opera) and such safeguarding activities have laid a solid groundwork for passing down and promoting this performing art.
For other intangible cultural heritage elements, the Macao SAR Government has been working closely with the local community. Positive achievements in different social sectors have encouraged the transmission and sustainable development of different intangible elements through, for example, exhibitions, performances, cultural exchange and training programmes, promotion within education institutions, among others.

Report submitted on 15/12/2010 and examined by the Committee in 2011

Overview

At the national level, the competent body for implementing the 2003 Convention is the Ministry of Culture, within which the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has direct responsibility. Work in intangible cultural heritage is carried out under the supervision of an interministerial joint conference including the Ministry of Culture, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, the Ministry of Commerce, the National Tourism Administration, the State Administration of Religious Affairs, the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Local governments have special divisions concerned with intangible cultural heritage in their cultural administrative departments. As of June 2010, Offices of Intangible Cultural Heritage have been established in the Departments of Culture for Beijing, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Anhui, Henan, Guangdong, Guizhou, Yunnan, Shaanxi, Xinjiang and other provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) with an increase in staff. In other provinces, with the approval of local governments, the relevant functions are allocated to the Office of Social Cultures under their Departments of Culture. Macao Special Administrative Region (Macao SARG) and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSARG) have competence for the implementation of the Convention within their territories; in the former, this is the responsibility of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of Macao SAR (ICM, Instituto Cultural, Macau), while in the latter the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) of the HKSARG is responsible for the policy on safeguarding the local intangible cultural heritage and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) is the implementation agency.
China Intangible Cultural Heritage Safeguarding Center is the professional institution for the safeguarding, researching, and training of intangible cultural heritage of China, undertaking important functions in providing training in intangible cultural heritage management at the national scale. It was established in September, 2006. By June, 2010, intangible cultural heritage safeguarding centres had been established in 30 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities).
The Chinese Academy of Arts is the documentation institution for intangible cultural heritage in China, undertaking the management, preservation, research and utilization of relevant documents kept in its library, as well as the construction of a database of intangible cultural heritage. Documentation is also an important responsibility of the 30 provincial intangible cultural heritage safeguarding centres. In June 2005, the Ministry of Culture began the first national intangible cultural heritage survey, which was finished by the end of 2009. The work involved 500,000 person-days, 1.15 million visits to folk artists, the collection of 290,000 valuable artefacts and documents, 2 billion words in written record, 230,000 hours of sound recordings, 4.77 million pictures taken and 140,000 volumes of compiled documents. This survey produced a preliminary result of 870,000 elements of intangible cultural heritage in China.
The Ministry of Culture oversees a national inventory of intangible cultural heritage. Provinces, autonomous regions (such as Inner Mongolia, Tibet and Xinjiang Uyghur), and special administrative regions (Honk Kong and Macau) are also conducting inventories at the local level. The elements included should be important forms of traditional folk culture or cultural spaces, or be representative of intangible cultural heritage, or hold important value in the aspects of history, arts, ethnology, folklore, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, literature or related fields. They must satisfy the following criteria: (1) The element should hold outstanding value for presenting the creativity of Chinese civilization; (2) The element should be rooted in the cultural tradition of a particular community and transmitted from generation to generation, presenting distinct local characteristics; (3) As a significant bond in cultural exchanges, the element should help promote Chinese national cultural identification, strengthen social cohesion, and enhance national solidarity and social stability; (4) The element should demonstrate a remarkable level of traditional craftsmanship and skills; (5) The element should display the unique value of showcasing living Chinese national cultural traditions; (6) The element should show the significance of the transmission of Chinese national culture, while facing grave threats of disappearance due to social transformation or a lack of safeguarding measures.
An element to be included on the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage should first be recognized by the communities, groups or individuals concerned. The nomination should be submitted by social institutions or the bearers of the heritage to local cultural administrative departments. The Ministry of Culture organizes experts to evaluate nominations, report them to the Evaluating Committee, and present them for public scrutiny before preparing an initial draft of the National List. The draft list is then examined by the Inter-Ministerial Joint Conference for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage and submitted to the State Council of the People’s Republic of China for its approval and proclamation. Alongside experts holding government posts, the Evaluating Committee also includes representatives of non-governmental organizations such as the China Folklore Society, China Museums Association, Chinese Martial Arts Association, Kunju and Guqin Research Society of China, Chinese Arts and Crafts Society, and Chinese Ceramics Industrial Society. The national list is updated every two years, so far in 2006 and 2008. Inventorying is undertaken independently within Hong Kong, with the South China Research Centre of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology contracted to implement the initial survey. Similarly, within Macao the ICM operates its own intangible cultural heritage inventory. Both regions may also nominate intangible cultural heritage for inclusion on the National List.
In terms of planning and regulatory measures, the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage has been integrated into the Development Programme of Culture that figures in each national Five-Year Plan. The Law on the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the People’s Republic of China was to come into force on 1 June 2011, after a series of interim measures had been issued by the Ministry of Culture since 2006. Relevant measures have been taken jointly by the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Commerce to safeguard traditional techniques and skills. At the local level, eight provinces have adopted legislation for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage.
Awareness-raising, promotion and information programmes aimed at the general public, in particular young people, are wide-ranging. They include a yearly ‘China Cultural Heritage Day’ where a variety of activities promoting intangible cultural heritage are organized at the local and national levels, such as exhibitions, performances, forums, lectures, broadcasting and reporting; and the first and second International Festival of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Chengdu. Public cultural institutions including libraries, cultural centres, museums, and science and technology centres at different levels have actively initiated activities in relation to the dissemination, display and publicity of intangible cultural heritage.
With regard to education, intangible cultural heritage has been promoted on campuses, in the classroom, in textbooks and through the exploration of a new educational mode for cultural transmission. Instances involve Hua’er from Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Nanyin from Quanzhou, Fujian Province, and the Grand Song of the Dong Ethnic Group from Guizhou Province which have been performed on campuses. In other places, after coordination with the educational departments, Peking Opera, folk songs and music, ‘paper-cut’, New Year pictures and traditional craftsmanship techniques have been included in the art courses of primary schools and high schools. In Hong Kong, substantial efforts are being dedicated to teaching Cantonese opera in primary and secondary schools as part of the music curriculum. Outside of schools, intangible cultural heritage safeguarding centres at all levels have created various educational and training programmes, along with a series of educational and training activities within the communities and groups concerned. Safeguarding efforts have focussed on specific elements and also typically include non-formal education and training in order to foster the continued transmission of the elements within their communities.
China is very active with regard to bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation. China has engaged in bi-lateral cooperation, communication, academic activities, exhibitions and performances in relation to the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage with Japan, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Mongolia, France, etc. As far as regional cooperation is concerned, in 2010 the Chinese government and UNESCO signed the Agreement between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and UNESCO Regarding the Establishment in Beijing of an International Training Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia–Pacific Region under the Auspices of UNESCO. International cooperation typically takes the form of cultural exchanges, with Chinese intangible cultural heritage bearers travelling abroad or international intangible cultural heritage bearers traveling to China, often in the context of festivals or tours.
China reports here on 26 elements on the Representative List, including four that were incorporated in 2008 after having previously been proclaimed as Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and 22 that were inscribed in 2009 (see the website and original report for the list). For all performing art elements, China has spared no efforts in ensuring the safeguarding or revitalization of the practices, generating a broader appeal to audiences and new generations of performers, and financially sustainable activities (commercial performances). Professional troupes have been supported and created, as have performing spaces. Documentation and publication efforts have been undertaken with the participation of communities and practitioners. One of the consequences of inscription on the Representative List is an increase in the commercial value of the performing art. The report notes on several occasions that this trend may result in the loss of artistic standards and the neglect of artistic quality. Measures to safeguard traditional craftsmanship include: the participation of artisans in national and international demonstrations and exhibitions; laws and regulations at the national and provincial levels; documentation, particularly by the National Academy of Arts but also at the local level; the establishment of specialized schools and transmission centres by provincial governments, districts and municipalities; support for apprenticeship systems; the creation of special funds to sponsor representative bearers who have difficulty carrying out transmitting activities; and extensive dissemination and popularization work, in particular through traditional and new media.

On Urgent Safeguarding List elements

Reports on each element inscribed on the Urgent Safeguarding List are submitted by the State Party on 15 December of the fourth year following the year in which the element was inscribed, and every fourth year thereafter.

Qiang New Year festival, inscribed in 2009

To access the description of this element, the original nomination file (form, consent of communities, photos and video) and the decision of inscription, please consult dedicated webpage.

A report will be due by 15/12/2021

The report originally due on 15/12/2017 is to be submitted by 15/12/2019

Report submitted on 15/12/2016 and examined by the Committee in 2017

Overview

soon available

Traditional design and practices for building Chinese wooden arch bridges, inscribed in 2009

To access the description of this element, the original nomination file (form, consent of communities, photos and video) and the decision of inscription, please consult dedicated webpage.

A report will be due by 15/12/2021

The report originally due on 15/12/2017 is to be submitted by 15/12/2019

Report submitted on 15/12/2016 and examined by the Committee in 2017

Overview

soon available

Traditional Li textile techniques: spinning, dyeing, weaving and embroidering, inscribed in 2009

To access the description of this element, the original nomination file (form, consent of communities, photos and video) and the decision of inscription, please consult dedicated webpage.

A report will be due by 15/12/2021

The report originally due on 15/12/2017 is to be submitted by 15/12/2019

Report submitted on 15/12/2016 and examined by the Committee in 2017

Overview

soon available

Wooden movable-type printing of China, inscribed in 2010

To access the description of this element, the original nomination file (form, consent of communities, photos and video) and the decision of inscription, please consult dedicated webpage.

A report will be due by 15/12/2022

The report originally due on 15/12/2018 is to be submitted by 15/12/2019

  • Report to complete: soon available
  • Instructions: English|French

Report submitted on 15/12/2016 and examined by the Committee in 2017

Overview

soon available

Watertight-bulkhead technology of Chinese junks, inscribed in 2010

To access the description of this element, the original nomination file (form, consent of communities, photos and video) and the decision of inscription, please consult dedicated webpage.

A report will be due by 15/12/2022

The report originally due on 15/12/2018 is to be submitted by 15/12/2019

  • Report to complete: soon available
  • Instructions: English|French

Report submitted on 15/12/2016 and examined by the Committee in 2017

Overview

soon available

Meshrep, inscribed in 2010

To access the description of this element, the original nomination file (form, consent of communities, photos and video) and the decision of inscription, please consult dedicated webpage.

A report will be due by 15/12/2022

The report originally due on 15/12/2018 is to be submitted by 15/12/2019

  • Report to complete: soon available
  • Instructions: English|French

Report submitted on 15/12/2016 and examined by the Committee in 2017

Overview

soon available

Hezhen Yimakan storytelling, inscribed in 2011

To access the description of this element, the original nomination file (form, consent of communities, photos and video) and the decision of inscription, please consult dedicated webpage.

A report will be due by 15/12/2023

Report submitted in 2019 and to be examined by the Committee in 2020

Report submitted on 15/12/2016 and examined by the Committee in 2017

Overview

soon available
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