China's first law for the protection of intangible cultural heritage (ICH), including traditional oral literature, performing arts, craftsmanship, medicine and folk customs, will take effect on Wednesday.
Approved in February by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), the law has been hailed by experts as a milestone for China's efforts to better preserve its traditions of historic, literary, artistic and scientific value.
According to the law, the State Council and provincial governments must create lists of representative intangible cultural heritage for national and local levels, respectively.
Governments at all levels will assist with intangible cultural heritage preservation efforts in ethnic minority areas, remote areas and poverty-stricken areas.
Aside from providing effective protection, the law also encourages the development of cultural products and services based on rational use of the representative ICH items.
The law also supports representative heirs in carrying forward intangible cultural heritage items and conducting follow-up personnel training.
Cultural authorities must provide necessary places and funds for representative heirs to pass on related skills and knowledge and encourage participation in non-profit social activities, according to the law.
The law also states that foreign organizations and individuals, before conducting surveys of ICH, will be required to first obtain approval from cultural authorities that are at least on the provincial level.
Also, foreign organizations and individuals must submit their research reports along with copies of on-site data and pictures during the survey.
Statistics show that China has 1,028 state-level ICH items and 1,488 state-level representative heirs. The country's total ICH resources amount to nearly 870,000 items.