The General Office of the CPC Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council recently jointly released the Opinions on Further Strengthening Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), clearly defining the development goals between 2025 and 2035, such as building a workable ICH protection and inheritance system, strengthening such protection and inheritance as well as relevant public education programs.
"Based on the strategic height of consolidating the cultural confidence and realizing the Chinese dream and the rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation, the Opinions clarify the overall objectives and main tasks of ICH protection at present and in the future, setting up a baseline for ICH protection in the new era," said a principal from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism when meeting the press.
Building a system to realize protection
The 5,000-year long history has bred countless cultural treasures in China with 1,557 already recognized by the country and 42 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
"China has made some progess in perfecting the top-level design of intangible cultural heritage protection in recent years. But there is no final product completed. The Opinions propose to study and amend the ICH Law and to utilize comprehensive use copyright, trademark rights, patent rights, geographical indications and other means to strengthen the protection of ICH's IPRs, which shows clearly the direction for optimizing of the top-level design of ICH protection," according to Li Shunde, professor from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and University of Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Professor Li also pointed out that in the process of inheritance and development, ICH involves multiple intellectual property rights, such as copyrights, trademark rights, patent rights, geographical indications, trade secrets, which are regulated by different types of laws. The current ICH Law mainly focuses on administrative protection, which needs to be improved in terms of private rights protection, such as ICH rights acquisition and benefit sharing. The Opinions aim to address this problem by improving polices and regulations and strengthening ICH right protection. It is worth mentioning that while further improving the policies and regulations on ICH protection, it is also necessary to improve the laws and regulations related to IPRs, so as to establish a better protection system.
Promoting inheritance to enhance development
In recent years, many poor areas have been lifted out of poverty and become prosperous by revitalizing traditional crafts, innovating the artistic expression of ICH, excavating ICH resources and developing tourism. Some traditional craft enterprises have further developed, optimized and fostered the excellent skills handed down by their ancestors, which not only revitalizes the traditional craft, but also achieves greater development. In the process of implementing major national strategies, all localities have strengthened the protection and inheritance of ICH factoring in realities, and have spread the unique charm of Chinese traditional cultures to the world. All these useful experiences have been absorbed and adopted by the Opinions. In the sector of improving the protection and inheritance level of ICH, the Opinions point out that we should strengthen the classified protection of ICH, integrate ICH into major national strategies, promote the rational utilization of ICH, and strengthen the protection and inheritance of ICH in former revolutionary bases, regions inhabited by ethnic groups,border areas and poverty-stricken areas.
In 2015, Tu Youyou, a Chinese scientist, won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for her achievements of studying and researching the artemisinin. This great invention was originally a clue found in ancient Chinese ancient codes and records. Like Tu Youyou, many time-honored brands actively innovate and develop on the basis of inheriting ancient ICH, which not only make themselves invincible in the fierce market competitions, but also let the essences of ancient prescriptions bring better benefits to people's health. Taking the currently popular time-honored enterprise, Zhangzhou Pien Tze Huang Pharmaceutical company for example, it has made great achievements relying on the national ICH of Pien Tze Huang manufacturing technologies. Up to now, it not only owns a large number of core invention patents in API and traditional Chinese medicine compositions, but also has developed a series of cosmetics and health products on the basis of Pien Tze Huang manufacturing technologies. Now, it is equipped with a competitive patent portfolio planing while investing almost 100 million yuan into R & D each year, riding on a strong momentum in development.
"After more than 20 years of efforts, the protection and inheritance of ICH in China has entered a new stage focusing on the utilization of achievements," said Tian Jing, a provincial representative inheritor of Jianshui purple pottery, a national ICH project. She is deeply impressed by the important role of ICH in helping overcoming poverty. Since 2008, Tian Jing passed on the ICH skills to poor villagers from Jianshui County by training. She said that the average annual income of local villagers reaches about 40,000 yuan, and those entrepreneurs may grab 80,000 yuan. After years of practice, people in the whole county engaged in Jianshui purple pottery industry have reached from a few hundreds to more than 30,000. The protection and inheritance of ICH technology have contributed a lot to the villagers' welfare.
"The protection and inheritance of ICH need the joint participation of all sectors of society, I do hope that the opinions will be implemented as soon as possible. As an ICH inheritor, I will try my best to inherit the ICH skills I master. The future of the great CH has come," Tian Jing said firmly.