China Goes All out to Protect Cultural Heritage

By Ershad Shikdar

Almost without exception, Bangladeshi students heading to China, especially job aspirants, all memorize basic information about the Great Wall, Great Canal of China, Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City.

Before my first arrival in Beijing four years ago, my knowledge of the cultural heritage of China was as limited as that of other Bangladeshis who have never visited this land of ancient civilization.

However, during my nearly four-year stay in Beijing, I had a glimpse of a huge treasure of cultural heritages in China. I have also been fortunate enough to visit some of the important heritage sites, which has helped me immensely to learn how rich China is culturally and how the country has long been discovering and preserving its treasures.

When it comes to the preservation of cultural heritage, I need to mention the name of President Xi Jinping. This is because I have found the president attaches great importance to the national research projects that trace the origins of Chinese civilization. During my time living in China, I recall the president visiting several heritage sites, encouraging the local people to preserve their treasures.

To elevate their endeavors to preserve the heritage to global standards, China joined the International Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1985.

Currently, China has 56 world heritage sites, recognized by UNESCO. Among them, 38 are cultural, 14 are natural heritage sites, and four are cultural and natural (mixed) sites.

In my opinion, China thinks the protection of intangible cultural heritage is the task of all of humanity and it also joined the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2004.

China has since made significant progress in the preservation of heritage sites. The country undertook its first large-scale renovations on seven world cultural heritage sites in Beijing, including the Ming Tombs, the Great Wall, and the Forbidden City, all of which were completed before 2008.

In addition, from 2005 to 2009, China carried out its first nationwide census of intangible cultural heritage, counting nearly 870,000 intangible cultural heritage resources, with several of them inscribed on UNESCO’s list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

The UNESCO World Heritage Sites in China comprise some of the most essential parts of China’s valuable and rich tourism resources. I have also visited some of them, including Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, the Great Wall and the Grand Canal.

Among the intangible cultural heritages, I see tai chi martial arts practitioners in parks and community squares almost every evening, as a lot of people regularly practice this traditional physical exercise. The Chinese believe that tai chi can bring them health and peace of mind through its signature slow circular movements.

I have also experienced acupuncture, another intangible heritage of China, several times in and outside Beijing. It is an important feature of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

While receiving acupuncture treatments, TCM doctors apply needles to puncture the skin and stimulate chosen points on the body. Every time I had the treatment I went through a rollercoaster ride since I felt both pain and relaxation during and after the treatments.

Over the last decade, China has made substantial headway in preserving and carrying forward its cultural heritage. The local governments of the country have included the preservation of cultural heritage as an important element in their performance evaluation systems.

In this time, the amount of provincial-level cultural relics protection units has increased by 58 percent, and that of municipal and county-level has grown by 88 percent, while tens of thousands of curated or excavated valuable cultural relics have been restored to a better state. Futhermore, the number of museums nationwide has increased by 60 percent, and massive technological breakthroughs have been made in cultural relics protection.

(Ershad Shikdar is a journalist from Bangladesh. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of