An official in charge of protecting China's cultural relics revealed on Monday that about 16.5 percent of the items in China's museums have been seriously degraded.
Li Xiaojie, head of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH), made the remarks at a press conference held by the State Council Information Office.
A survey conducted by SACH between 2002 to 2005 found that over 50 percent of historical objects in museums were degraded to different degrees, with damage to 2.3 million items, about 16.5 percent of the total, being "severe", he said.
Degradation is an inevitable tendency, but something must be done to stop the damage, Li said. Storage conditions should be improved, including temperature, humidity and light.
During the 11th Five Year Plan (2006-2010), 600 million yuan (98 million U.S. dollars) was invested in museums, and over the last three years, the administration has spent 817 million yuan on restoring damaged items, Li said.
Li described lack of qualified staff is a major bottleneck.
China has 3,866 museums, including 2,500 with no admission charges,
which receive about 560 million visitors a year.
An amendment to the cultural heritage protection law will be ready by the end of the year, Li said.