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China continues to increase its efforts to preserve and protect intangible cultural heritage. But, some traditional culture is still in danger of disappearing. The country is ranked first in the world in terms of internationally recognized intangible heritage items.
Yin Chen: Thanks James. It's been nine years since UNESCO launched a global project to identify "Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" that are in need of protection. China now has 26 items on the list. I'm presenting you the first four items recognized by the UNESCO. Kunqu Opera, is the first one. It's famed as the progenitor of all traditional Chinese opera with a 600 year history.
Guqin, or Chinese zither, is also on the list. It's a seven-stringed instrument and the world's oldest, known as the father of Chinese music.
The third item is the Xinjiang Uygur Muqam performance, which integrates song, dance and music.
And the fourth is the Mongolian Long Tune. They've been sung at rituals and celebrations for two thousand years.
James: The draft law under consideration is the first to protect intangible cultural heritage. Why is this so urgent and in need of being introduced as soon as possible?
Yin Chen: James, most of China's intangible heritage is linked to those who live the simple life, especially in rural areas. Globalization and urbanization are certainly impacting their way of life and in turn their traditions and culture. So. this is the focus of preservation and protection efforts. Chinese opera is a good example. In 1949, there were 360 different kinds of operas. That dropped to 318 in 1982, and down to 260 in 2004. Traditional Chinese dancing is also facing a similar fate.
These days, not as many people seem interested in learning how to dance the traditional dances. There's discussion that a national law should be introduced to preserve and protect Chinese culture.