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China's top legislature, the National People's Congress, has begun deliberating a law that will greatly impact a lot of the things we report on here at Culture Express.
The law will help China better safeguard some quickly disappearing intangible cultural heritage. Let's get more detail from the first reading on Wednesday.
The draft law proposes the creation of representative lists of national and local intangible cultural heritage to safeguard heritage that is of historic, literary, artistic or scientific value.
According to the draft law, the State Council and provincial governments must create intangible heritage lists separately, while county governments should make regular surveys of heritage protection.
Foreign organizations can only make such surveys in China after obtaining Chinese government approval and in cooperation with Chinese academic research institutions.
The draft law is comprised of six parts, including the definition of intangible cultural heritage as well as mechanisms for its surveys, regulation of its inheritance and penalties for destruction.
Intangible cultural heritage is defined as the traditional cultural expressions and practices of China's various ethnic groups that have been passed down through generations and that have become part of the group's cultural heritage.
Material objects and sites of these expressions and practices are also recognized by the draft law as intangible cultural heritage.
Some traditional culture is disappearing quickly, and the absence of such a protection law is causing difficulty in preventing that disappearance.
Statistics from the Ministry of Culture show the State Council and the ministry had by 2009 designated more than 25 hundred national intangible heritage items and more than 14 hundred heirs to these heritages.
The draft of the Law on Intangible Cultural Heritage was submitted to the bimonthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, which opened Monday.