SCIO briefing on strengthening heritage conservation to carry forward Chinese civilization
Beijing | 10 a.m. July 28, 2023

The State Council Information Office held a press conference in Beijing on Friday about strengthening heritage conservation to carry forward Chinese civilization.


Li Qun, vice minister of culture and tourism and administrator of the National Cultural Heritage Administration (NCHA)

Jin Ruiguo, spokesperson of the NCHA and director general of the Department of Department of Policies and Regulations of the NCHA

Deng Chao, director general of the Department of Cultural Relics and Historic Sites of the NCHA

Yan Yalin, director general of the Department of Archaeology of the NCHA

Liu Yang, director general of the Department of Museums and Social Relics of the NCHA

Wen Dayan, director general of the Department of Communication and Cooperation of the NCHA


Xing Huina, deputy director general of the Press Bureau of the State Council Information Office (SCIO) and spokesperson of the SCIO

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Mr. Li Qun, vice minister of culture and tourism and administrator of the National Cultural Heritage Administration (NCHA)

Mr. Jin Ruiguo, spokesperson of the NCHA and director general of the Department of Policies and Regulations of the NCHA

Mr. Deng Chao, director general of the Department of Cultural Relics and Historic Sites of the NCHA

Mr. Yan Yalin, director general of the Department of Archaeology of the NCHA

Mr. Liu Yang, director general of the Department of Museums and Social Relics of the NCHA 

Wen Dayan, director general of the Department of Communication and Cooperation of the NCHA 


Xing Huina, deputy director general of the Press Bureau of the State Council Information Office (SCIO) and spokesperson of the SCIO


July 28, 2023

Xing Huina:

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Welcome to this press conference held by the State Council Information Office (SCIO). Today, we are holding the 22nd press conference in the series "Embarking on the New Journey — A Government Perspective." We have invited Mr. Li Qun, vice minister of culture and tourism and administrator of the National Cultural Heritage Administration (NCHA), to brief you on strengthening heritage conservation to carry forward Chinese civilization. He will also be available to answer your questions. 

Also joining us today are Mr. Jin Ruiguo, spokesperson of the NCHA and director general of the Department of Policies and Regulations of the NCHA; Mr. Deng Chao, director general of the Department of Cultural Relics and Historic Sites of the NCHA; Mr. Yan Yalin, director general of the Department of Archaeology of the NCHA; Mr. Liu Yang, director general of the Department of Museums and Social Relics of the NCHA; and Mr. Wen Dayan, director general of the Department of Communication and Cooperation of the NCHA.

Now, I'll give the floor to Mr. Li Qun for a brief introduction.

Li Qun:

Thank you, chairperson. Hello, friends from the media! First, on behalf of the NCHA, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all our media friends for your continued care, support and help for China's cultural heritage development. Today, my colleagues and I will share with you what we have done in strengthening heritage conservation to carry forward Chinese civilization.

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has attached unprecedented importance to cultural heritage work. General Secretary Xi Jinping has given more than 160 important instructions, and presided over three group study sessions of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee which focused on the latest archaeological discoveries in China and their significance; further advancing the project on tracing the origins of Chinese civilization; and putting resources related to the Party's heritage to great use and sustaining the Party's revolutionary legacy. Since the beginning of this year, the general secretary has participated in a meeting on cultural inheritance and development, and delivered an important speech; visited the Sanxingdui Museum, the Pingjiang Historic and Cultural Block, and the Yuncheng Museum; and sent congratulatory letters to the General Assembly of the Alliance for Cultural Heritage in Asia, the first Forum on Building up China's Cultural Strength, the third Dialogue on Exchanges and Mutual Learning among Civilizations and the first World Conference of Sinologists.

The NCHA prioritizes the study, promotion, and implementation of General Secretary Xi Jinping's important expositions and instructions on cultural heritage work, alongside the guiding principles of the 20th CPC National Congress. We have made solid efforts to promote the high-quality development of China's cultural heritage cause, mainly focusing on the following six aspects:

First, the NCHA has strengthened the protection of cultural relics and heritage. We have always safeguarded precious cultural heritage as we cherish our own lives. We advanced the revision of the Law on the Protection of Cultural Relics, and have made great progress in various aspects, such as cultural relic protection, the utilization of the value of cultural relics, retrieval and return of lost cultural relics, and combating cultural relic-related crimes. The NCHA has established the first batch of demonstration zones for the protection and utilization of revolutionary cultural relics, joined hands with relevant departments to introduce the three-year action plan for protecting covered bridges, and promoted the protection and utilization of historic sites like the Mogao Grottoes, the Wooden Pagoda in Yingxian County, and the Dazu Rock Carvings. The NCHA has been actively promoting and preparing for the fourth national census of cultural relics and the development of China's national tourism routes themed on cultural heritage. The NCHA and other relevant departments have jointly issued the construction and protection plan for the Yellow River National Culture Park, significantly strengthening the protection and management of over 300,000 immovable cultural relics in nine provincial regions along the Yellow River. This has further improved the level of protection and inheritance of cultural relics and heritage along the Yellow River. The NCHA has maintained a strong stance on cracking down on cultural relic-related crimes. Since launching another round of special operations to prevent and crack down on cultural relic-related crimes in October last year, we have solved more than 700 cases, arrested over 1,700 criminal suspects, and recovered over 110,000 cultural relics. The NCHA has conducted special inspections and rectification actions to address major risks and hidden hazards in the cultural relic sector, and prevented over 16,000 fire risks and potential accidents.

Second, the NCHA has deepened archaeological research on cultural relics. We strive to achieve a comprehensive framework, broad perspectives, and significant development for Chinese archaeology in the new era. The NCHA has continued to advance the project on tracing the origins of Chinese civilization, and 18 major initiatives under the Archaeology China program, including the study on Xia dynasty (2070 -1600 B.C.) culture. We've also launched 268 proactive archaeological projects and held a special exhibition on the origins and early development of Chinese civilization, continually promoting in-depth research into the history of Chinese civilization. The successful overall salvage of the Yangtze River Estuary No. 2 Ancient Vessel and the relocation of the ship into the dock in its entirety adopts the world's most advanced technology which uses arc beams for non-contact migration of cultural relics. This showcased China's innovative capabilities in cultural heritage protection science and technology. China has made significant breakthroughs in deep-sea archaeology. We discovered large ancient sunken ships in waters of the South China Sea and established a permanent underwater surveying base point in the southwest corner of the shipwreck site, marking a new stage in underwater archaeology. The fourth batch of national archaeological site parks has been announced, bringing the total number of such parks in China to 55. We've implemented the important system of "archaeological research before transfer of land for major urban construction" in 23 provincial regions. Archaeological work has been carried out in advance and steadily during the development of initiatives such as Beijing's sub-center, the Xiong'an New Area and new urbanization projects. The archaeological efforts at the Luxian ancient city site and the Shuomen ancient port ruins site have become new models for cultural heritage protection in urban and rural construction.


Third, the NCHA has promoted the popularity and influence of cultural relics. Enjoying exhibitions at museums has become a new lifestyle activity for people. Especially, there is a significant increase in public demand for museums during summer holidays and other holidays and festivals. The NCHA has prioritized efforts to develop museums so as to educate the public. China is now home to 6,565 museums, with over 90% offering free admission. The NCHA also carried out a national campaign to promote China's top ten museum exhibitions as well as themed exhibitions that promote fine traditional culture and socialist core values. The Alliance for Cultural Heritage in Asia was established, and the Xi'an Declaration was published to promote cultural heritage protection in Asia. The NCHA has improved the system for authenticating cultural relics and strengthened the regulation of cultural relics trade. Efforts have also been made to explore the possibility of expanding the range of tax preferences for imported cultural relics. The NCHA organized a series of events to celebrate International Museum Day and China's Cultural and Natural Heritage Day, among others. In addition, excellent cases of the high-quality development of cultural relics-related work were selected and promoted. The NCHA cooperated with the China Media Group on producing documentaries and worked with China's cyberspace regulator to launch themed activities online. The "Civilization in Archaeology," a digital art exhibition exploring the origins of Chinese civilization, was held at the headquarters of the United Nations. All these efforts have helped to increase the popularity of cultural relics.

Fourth, the NCHA has strengthened the protection and utilization of revolutionary cultural relics. We completed the project on the protection and use of revolutionary cultural relics. This project was carried out from 2018 to 2022. The list of second batch of revolutionary cultural relics was approved and announced by 31 provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities) and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. China has more than 36,000 immovable revolutionary cultural relics and over one million pieces (sets) of movable ones. A number of important revolutionary sites, such as the National Mongolian and Tibetan School, were restored and opened to the public. A joint initiative themed around revolutionary cultural relics was launched to promote the moral, intellectual, and civic development of the public.

Fifth, the NCHA has strengthened technological innovation in cultural relics-related work. It has supported the quality development of cultural relics-related work with the help of scientific and technological innovation. It has formulated guidelines on strengthening scientific and technological innovation in cultural relics-related work and revised standardized measures for regulating cultural relics protection. A guideline on establishing standards for cultural heritage protection during the 14th Five-Year Plan period was released, delineating how to establish groups of standards in seven major areas. The NCHA has selected the eighth batch of key research bases. China now has 40 S&T bases for cultural relics. The NCHA has carried out 17 online cultural projects that are based on digital and information technology, including one that promotes Beijing's central axis. Efforts have also been made to protect the cultural relics at the Yungang Grottoes and promote studying the Yungang Grottoes.

Sixth, the NCHA has advanced the building of a professional team of talent. It has stepped up efforts to address insufficient staff for cultural heritage protection. With the strong support of the central and local authorities, we have increased staff allocation for cultural heritage protection and archaeological institutions at all levels and raised the allowance standard for field workers in such institutions. The NCHA upgraded the national vocational skills competition in the cultural relics sector to a first-class national event. It has also improved the structure of cultural relics protection related educational programs and increased the enrollment quota for doctoral students in archaeology by 57% in 13 universities that cultivate high-caliber talents the country needs. We have also made progress in setting up academic degrees in cultural relics and S&T of cultural relics. Efforts have also been made to prepare for the establishment of a university for cultural heritage. 

That's all for my opening remarks. Next, my colleagues and I are ready to answer your questions. Thank you.

Xing Huina:

Thank you, Mr. Li. The floor is now open for questions. Please identify the news outlet you represent before raising your questions.



We need to bring alive cultural relics to leverage their role in promoting historical and cultural values. What specific work has been done to spread the value of cultural relics and foster a source of strength that inspires all of society? Thank you.

Jin Ruiguo:

Thank you for your question. We follow a people-centered approach to explore the rich value of cultural relics. Continuous efforts have been made to promote Chinese cultural relics through all media forms. The NCHA has strived to build a comprehensive system to mobilize all parties to promote cultural relics through all types of publicity and all media forms, thus bringing more cultural relics and cultural heritage to life and providing the entire society with historical and cultural strength. We have carried out work in the following aspects: 

First, the NCHA made efforts in cultural relics related publicity. We have thoroughly implemented the guiding principle from the Party's 20th National Congress, as well as the new theories and instructions of General Secretary Xi Jinping on the work relating to cultural heritage. In a timely manner, we have released important information regarding the Archaeology China program, protection and use of revolutionary cultural relics, and the establishment of the Alliance for Cultural Heritage in Asia. We held nine press conferences and carried out more than 20 themed activities to promote the guidelines for cultural relics related work in the new era, the newly revised Regulations Concerning the Management and Protection of Underwater Cultural Relics, major progress in deep-sea archaeology, protection of grottoes and stone carvings, and the development of museum industry, etc. The NCHA has established its news center and opened an official video account that ranks among the top in terms of first-day visits, likes, and fan growth among central ministry video accounts in recent years. From January to June this year, the NCHA's official WeChat page has seen a year-on-year increase of 46% in visits, which demonstrates the public's interest in cultural heritage. We have worked with nearly 200 cultural institutions and museums nationwide to foster a new media matrix, which will soon be launched to tell the stories of the cultural relics.

Second, themed activities have been organized to expand the circle of friends for the inheritance of cultural heritage. We have leveraged the advantages of cultural heritage resources and media platforms and continued to launch fine works that interpret and spread the value of cultural relics. Together with the Cyberspace Administration of China, we have promoted 100 fine new media works themed on cultural relics, including the video series "Heritage Conservation in Action." We have jointly conducted an online themed promotion campaign, "The Splendid China: The Making of Zhongguo" organized 10 key state news websites and new media to carry out a series of themed promotion activities, and coordinated the cyberspace and heritage departments of 12 provinces to launch both online and offline publicity activities. We have carried out, along with China Daily, the all-media communication and presentation activity "Common Heritage, Shared Future," and planned and issued, together with the People's Bank of China, a set of commemorative gold and silver coins featuring five of China's treasured artifacts. We have, for the first time, selected and promoted cases of high-quality development of cultural heritage, demonstrating the typical scenes of applying concepts of innovation, coordination, green development, openness, and sharing in heritage-related work. During International Museum Day and Cultural and Natural Heritage Day, more than 10,000 services involving exhibitions, education, publicity, and identification of cultural relics were launched at various local levels, further expanding the channels of interpreting and publicizing their value. 

Third, fine programs have made cultural heritage more accessible. We have co-produced with China Media Group a 10-episode mini-documentary series, "Xi Jinping's Cultural Story," which was collectively viewed more than 6.6 billion times on the internet. We have co-produced the series "Xun Gu Zhong Guo" ("Seeking Antiques in China"), with the episodes of "Story of the Ancient Shu Kingdom," "Story of the Ancient Dian Kingdom," and "Story of Jade" already aired, explaining the origin and early development of Chinese civilization. The global tour of the co-launched digital exhibition "Journey Through Civilizations" started at the United Nations Headquarters and has enjoyed a high reputation overseas. "Interpreting the 24 Traditional Chinese Solar Terms Through Cultural Heritage" and other cultural works that we have co-produced with Xinhua News Agency have been widely praised. In addition, documentaries of "Civilization Grows Here" and "China Before China" as well as other programs will be launched in the near future. Cultural heritage has stepped out of the "inner chambers," connected with audiences, traveled through time, and integrated into the present, motivating all of society to strengthen their historical consciousness and boost cultural self-confidence. Thank you.


Hong Kong Bauhinia Magazine:

Museums are important sites to protect and inherit human civilization. What are the developments of museums in China? How to better stimulate the vitality of museums and promote their innovative development while upholding fundamental principles? Thank you.

Liu Yang:

Thanks for your questions. Over the years, the NCHA has earnestly implemented a series of important museum-related remarks and instructions made by General Secretary Xi Jinping, intensified the reform efforts, optimized the systems and layouts, and improved service efficiency. As a result, a modern museum system featuring a great variety of museums, diverse themes, benefits for all, and equal access to such services has been basically established. China saw 322 museums newly registered last year, with the total number of such museums hitting 6,565. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, we held 34,000 offline exhibitions and nearly 230,000 education sessions last year, receiving 578 million visits. At the same time, we launched nearly 10,000 exhibitions and more than 40,000 education sessions online, which received nearly 1 billion views on the internet and more than 1 million views on new media platforms. Museums are increasingly becoming an important part of people's better lives. Looking ahead, we will always work to stimulate vitality through reforms, lead developments with innovation, help museums innovate while upholding fundamental principles, and promote the improvement of their quality and efficiency so as to better meet people's ever-growing intellectual and cultural needs. Our efforts will be mainly taken from five respects.

First, we will innovate institutions and mechanisms. We will further improve the mechanism for the opening of museums and continue to push forward some key reform tasks regarding museums. At the same time, we will actively explore building joint certification, construction, and management mechanisms with industrial and university museums so as to bring more museums under the management scope and boost more dynamic development of museums.

Second, we will optimize systems and layouts. We will continue to promote the establishment of world-class museums with Chinese characteristics and key national-themed museums, support the distinctive development of museums at the level of provinces and important prefectures and municipalities, and initiate the pilot project to improve small and medium-sized museums. At the same time, we will intensify efforts to regulate and support non-state-owned museums and coordinate the development of diverse museums with varied attributes at various levels and across different places. 

Third, we will consolidate the development foundation. We will review the registration of first-class cultural relics in museum collections and cement the foundation of collections protection and management. We will promote the implementation of key projects to conserve and make use of cultural relics in museum collections to better protect them. We will advance the digitalization of museum collections and make basic information more transparent and accessible. 

Fourth, we will improve the efficiency of services. We will continue to promote the selection of "Top 10 National Museum Exhibitions" and the themed exhibitions on "Carrying Forward Fine Traditional Chinese Culture and Fostering Core Socialist Values," and organize celebrations of traditional festivals and anniversaries in museums so as to continuously provide more high-quality services. We will guide local museums to optimize the ticket reservation system based on their conditions and better regulate and guide the staff responsible for museum interpretation to improve the reception service.

Fifth, we will enhance communication and exchanges. We will strengthen cooperation with the media, produce and release a series of quality programs to tell stories about cultural relics well, and disseminate our history and culture. We will formulate documents on improving outbound exhibitions, strengthening overall planning and improving curation so as to continuously increase the international influence of the Chinese civilization. Thank you.


China Media Group:

The world's cultural and natural heritage is an important outcome of human civilization's progress and natural evolution and an important carrier to promote exchanges and mutual learning among different civilizations. China is one of the four major ancient civilizations in the world, with a vast territory, a long history, a profound culture, and rich natural landscapes. What major progress has been made in the bidding for and protection of world cultural heritage in China since the 20th CPC National Congress? Thank you.

Li Qun:

Thank you for your question. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the NCHA has thoroughly implemented the important instructions of General Secretary Xi Jinping on the bidding for world cultural heritage. He required that we uphold three principles in the bidding process, that is, it should be conducive to highlighting the value of the Chinese civilization, history, and culture; manifesting the spiritual pursuit of the Chinese nation; and presenting a panoramic and true view of ancient and modern China to the world. In accordance with his requirements, we have comprehensively pushed forward the bidding efforts.

First, in terms of the bidding for world cultural heritage. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, we have successfully inscribed eight cultural sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List, including "Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City," "Kulangsu, a Historic International Settlement," and "Quanzhou: Emporium of the World in Song-Yuan China." The Liangzhu site has exemplified the 5,000-year history of the Chinese civilization. Kulangsu has demonstrated the history of cultural exchanges and integration between China and the rest of the world as well as the deep roots and strong foundation of the Chinese civilization. Quanzhou has witnessed the important role of China in maritime business activities in the ancient world. A few years ago, we successfully inscribed "Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor" on the list. It not only has demonstrated the history of exchanges and mutual learning between the Chinese civilization and other civilizations but also is an important measure to implement the Belt and Road Initiative. We have made significant achievements in inscribing elements on the World Heritage List in the past decade.

Second, in terms of the protection of world cultural heritage. The NCHA has urged and guided all localities across the country to earnestly fulfill their obligations under the World Heritage Convention and improve the protection and display. This year, the NCHA has organized national working conferences on the protection of the cultural relics of the Grand Canal and the Great Wall, systematically assigning recent tasks. We have organized all localities to start the renovation, display, and interpretation of a number of world cultural heritage sites, such as the Mogao Grottoes, the Great Wall, and the Grand Canal, strengthened monitoring and early-warning work at world heritage sites and explored to establish a system incorporating systematic protection, scientific management, and comprehensive display.

Third, in terms of international exchanges and cooperation concerning world cultural heritage. The NCHA has strengthened cooperation with countries including Indonesia and Malaysia, guided Hong Kong and other Chinese cities to join the City Alliance for Maritime Silk Road Heritage Conservation and World Heritage Nomination, and actively promoted the joint bidding of countries along the Maritime Silk Road. Last year, the NCHA and the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macao Special Administrative Region Government jointly held the Maritime Silk Road International Cultural Forum to promote cultural exchanges among countries along the route and increase the influence of the Maritime Silk Road bid. At the same time, the NCHA has also actively engaged in developing the international governance system and capacity of world cultural heritage and voiced China's opinions on major issues such as climate change and heritage protection as well as the revision of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, thereby upholding the cultural interests of our country.

In the next step, the NCHA will continue to do a good job in the bidding for world cultural heritage. This year, we will strive for the successful bidding of "Ancient Tea Plantations of Jingmai Mountain in Pu'er." The site is located in Pu'er city, Yunnan province, and now we are making all-out efforts in our preparations. We are also working with the Beijing Municipal Government in the bidding and protection of "The Central Axis of Beijing." We will also update the tentative list of world heritage in China, and sort out and cultivate potential elements by following General Secretary Xi Jinping's important instructions and meeting the selection criteria for world heritage sites. Through the update, we will go further to construct a system of Chinese civilization identifications that exemplify the Chinese civilization and the spirit of the Chinese nation and showcase both ancient and modern China. Thank you.


China Education Television:

We have noticed the media recently reported that climate change is having some impacts on the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang. Some media even quoted some people as saying that mountain floods, cave collapses, and humidity spikes are already taking place. My question is: Have the cultural relics protection authorities noticed the potential dangers that these problems might bring? Also, how can we respond effectively to these factors of climate change? Thank you.

Deng Chao:

Thank you for your question. We have observed the recent media reports. First, I assure you that the alleged phenomena of surging humidity, mountain torrents, and cave collapses, as reported by the media, do not exist in the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes. The Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes are located in the arid regions of northwest China. The cultural relics there, made from special materials, are extremely sensitive to climate change. The Dunhuang Academy continues to monitor and study the climatic changes in the area where the Mogao Grottoes are located. Over 30 years of monitoring data indicate that the average annual precipitation in the area where the Mogao Grottoes are located is around 40 millimeters. The region predominantly experiences light to moderate rainfall, with only six instances of heavy and torrential rainfall. The regional climate is generally warm and dry. In recent decades, there have been no cave collapses.

Second, the preservation efforts of the cultural relics in the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes have delivered remarkable results. Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, the NCHA has approved and implemented 51 protective initiatives, such as the protection of the main body of the Mogao Grottoes, reinforcing the cliff body, and improving the environment. To date, the Dunhuang Academy has completed the comprehensive protection and repair of 86 caves. They have established a complete set of key technical systems for ancient murals protection, gravel rock cave cliffs reinforcement, comprehensive protection against wind and sand disasters, and grotto monitoring and early warning. We've also established the National Engineering Technology Research Center for the Protection of Ancient Murals and Earthen Sites. As for the specific climate change response measures, on the one hand, the issue of rainwater infiltrating the caves has been thoroughly resolved through the reinforcement of thin-roofed caves and the installation of cave doors. This mitigates the impact of external climate change on the micro-environment within the caves. On the other hand, through comprehensive monitoring, changes in cave temperature and humidity can be detected promptly, and dynamic operation management has been implemented to ensure that the micro-environment within the caves remains within the safety threshold in the long term. Simultaneously, we collaborated closely with the meteorological department to establish a robust storm and flood warning system and an emergency command platform for flash floods. This allows us early access to meteorological change data, predict adverse weather events effectively, and implement contingency plans and protective measures in a timely manner.

Next, we will continue to do a good job in the preservation of the Mogao Grottoes. We will guide the Dunhuang Academy in revising the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes Protection Master Plan, implement the Medium- and long-term Work Plan for the Preservation of Murals and Colored Sculptures at the Mogao Grottoes, and concentrate on enhancing our comprehensive protection capabilities for the caves. We will carry out the third phase of the Mogao Grottoes flood control project to minimize the threat of floods to the safety of the Mogao Grottoes' cultural relics under extreme weather conditions. We will accelerate the construction of smart cave doors and improve our ability to control the micro-environment within the caves. The Mogao Grottoes serve as an example in this regard. We have implemented many measures to tackle climate change in the field of ancient ruins and cave temples. The NCHA, in collaboration with the Chongqing Municipal People's Government, will hold the first international forum on cave temple preservation in Dazu district, Chongqing, on August 19. The forum will center on the protection of cave temples in the face of climate change. We welcome our media friends to participate. Thank you all.


Beijing Radio Television Station:

General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed the integral role of archeology in understanding the rich and profound Chinese culture during his visit to the China National Archives of Publications and Culture and the Chinese Academy of History on June 2 this year. He underscored the significance of conducting research and offering interpretations concerning the origins of Chinese civilization through major programs such as the Comprehensive Research of Origin and Early Development of Chinese Civilization program and Archaeology China program. Could you provide an overview and discuss the value of the Archaeology China program? Thank you.

Yan Yalin:

Thank you for your question. The Archaeology China program is a significant archaeological research initiative established by the NCHA. Its purpose is to conduct comprehensive research with a focus on China's million-year-long human history, its 10,000-year cultural history, and over 5,000 years of civilization history. The program aims to continually deepen our understanding of the long history of the Chinese nation and Chinese civilization through consistent and systematic archaeological endeavors.

In 2018, we initiated three pilot projects to explore the civilization process in the Hetao Irrigation Area and the lower and middle reaches of the Yangtze River. Building on this previous work, in 2020, the NCHA issued Guidelines for the Application and Management of Major Programs within the Archaeology China Program (2020-2035). These guidelines systematically deploy research programs in five key areas and 11 key research directions, including the origins of early and modern humans; early societies; the onset of civilization and early states; the bronze civilizations of the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties, and the early dynastic states; the forms and development of unified multi-ethnic states and settlements; and urban archaeology, underwater archaeology, and more. To date, we have established 18 major projects, such as Xia culture research and cave temple archaeology, and approved the implementation of 427 active archaeological projects. These projects involve 153 sites across 24 provinces, including autonomous regions and municipalities, throughout the country, with 110 archaeological teams from 93 archaeological institutions. Important discoveries have been made at sites such as Liangzhu in Zhejiang province, Shimao in Shaanxi province, Sanxingdui in Sichuan province, Erlitou in Henan province, Xiadacuo in the Tibet Autonomous Region, and Kyak Kuduk Beacon in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, providing brand new physical evidence for China's history of civilization spanning more than 5,000 years.

Through the implementation of the Archaeology China program, several outcomes have been achieved: first, we have made progress and breakthroughs in major fields and key issues. Our research into the processes of regional civilization has been comprehensively advanced, strengthening weaker areas and obscure fields of archaeology. Second, we have promoted the development of archaeological capabilities and disciplines. Archaeology has closely cooperated with the natural sciences, the humanities, and the social sciences. Awareness of research topics and technology has significantly increased, and the breadth and depth of research have been continuously expanded. Third, we have strengthened the archaeological community. High-level scientific research platforms have been established through cooperation between central and local governments, schools and local governments, and provinces. Through collaborative research, many young and middle-aged scholars have emerged. Consequently, the professional and scientific capabilities of the archaeological workforce have been continually improved. Fourth, we have achieved significant results in educating the public about history. The Archaeology in China platform has published 75 important discoveries, enabling the public to promptly understand the latest archaeological discoveries and historical research results. These publications have received widespread attention and praise.

In the future, we will be committed to developing archaeology in a broader vision, aiming for a more expansive and broad development of Chinese archaeology. We will continue to implement the project on tracing the origins of Chinese civilization and the Archaeology China program, shaping a unique and distinctive Chinese archaeological style. We plan to delve deeply into and interpret the five defining characteristics of over 5,000 years of Chinese civilization, which is uninterrupted, innovative, unified, inclusive and peaceful, striving to make new and substantial contributions to the development of modern Chinese civilization. Please continue to pay attention to China's archaeological endeavors. Thank you.


China News Service:

As you mentioned earlier, the General Assembly of the Alliance for Cultural Heritage in Asia was held this year. Could you please brief us on the conference and detail its accomplishments? In addition, can you outline the further measures that the NCHA intends to implement in terms of international cultural heritage exchanges and cooperation? Thank you.

Li Qun:

Please allow Mr. Wen to answer these questions.

Wen Dayan:

Thank you for your questions. A total of 150 representatives from 21 Asian countries and three international cultural heritage organizations, including UNESCO, attended the General Assembly of the Alliance for Cultural Heritage in Asia. This attendance included 16 ministerial-level officials and ambassadors, and heads of three international organizations. The Alliance for Cultural Heritage in Asia was officially established, and the total number of member and observer countries grew from 10 at its inception to 18, with China elected as the first chair of the alliance. The conference released the Xi'an Declaration on Cultural Heritage Protection in Asia, launched the Asian Fund for Cultural Heritage Conservation, and established the Collaborative Research Center for Archaeology of the Silk Roads. The Alliance for Cultural Heritage in Asia is the first international organization in the field of cultural heritage to be established under China's leadership. It is the only specialized international organization in the cultural heritage field in the Asian region. From its initial design to implementation, the alliance embodies the core essence of the Global Civilization Initiative put forward by President Xi Jinping and the vital concept of cultural exchange and mutual learning between China and other civilizations.

Shortly after the general assembly, President Xi Jinping witnessed the signing of a government-to-government agreement between China and Kyrgyzstan. This agreement aims to prevent theft, looting, and the illegal import and export of cultural property, marking an important achievement in the cultural heritage field during the China-Central Asia Summit. Since the 20th CPC National Congress, particularly this year, we have actively implemented the Global Civilization Initiative. We've maintained deep cooperation with countries rich in cultural heritage and ancient civilizations, such as France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Tunisia, Cyprus, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and South Africa. Our collaboration includes signing agreements, joint archaeology, world heritage, underwater archaeology, museum exchanges, personnel training, and prevention of illegal import and export of cultural relics, becoming a vivid facet of our major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. We have fostered friendships through international platforms like UNESCO, BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and ASEAN, participated in the international governance of cultural heritage, and voiced China's perspectives. This year marks the 10th anniversary of President Xi Jinping's proposal of the Belt and Road Initiative. We have vigorously promoted people-to-people connectivity along the Belt and Road by protecting and restoring historical sites in countries such as Cambodia, Nepal, Myanmar and Uzbekistan. In the second half of this year, we will also hold an exhibition on cultural relics and archaeological cooperation along the Belt and Road.

Moving forward, the NCHA will continue to implement the guiding principles of President Xi Jinping's congratulatory letter to the General Assembly of the Alliance for Cultural Heritage in Asia and his significant speech delivered at the symposium on cultural inheritance and development. We will act on the Global Civilization Initiative, continue to add more substance to the Alliance for Cultural Heritage in Asia, enhance and improve the secretariat, and coordinate internal and external affairs. We will make good use of international platforms, fully harness the unique role of cultural heritage in bridging differences and uniting people, and adopt multiple measures to achieve the high-quality development of cultural heritage diplomacy. This approach will effectively extend the reach and appeal of Chinese civilization. We invite our media friends to continue to pay attention to and support our work. Thank you.



In recent years, the popularity of museums has been on the rise, and it's difficult to make reservations for some museums. How do you view this phenomenon, and what are the proposed solutions? Thank you.

Liu Yang:

Thank you for your question. The issue you mentioned is one that the NCHA has also been paying close attention to. Indeed, in recent years, the "museum fever" has continued to heat up, and the public's enthusiasm for visiting museums is rising. This is especially the case during the winter and summer holidays and other holidays, when it can be difficult to book tickets to some museums.

Recently, we conducted a survey on this issue, selecting 45 large and medium-sized museums across the country, including national first-grade museums, provincial museums across 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government, as well as some distinctive local museums. We found that the difficulty in booking mainly occurs at large, popular museums, which underscores the gap between the growing needs and the unbalanced and inadequate offerings of refined cultural products. At the same time, some ticket scalpers buy up and stockpile tickets, interfering with the normal operation and order.

In response, the NCHA acted promptly and undertook a series of measures. On July 14, we issued a notice on providing better museum services during holidays and many museums across the country have acted accordingly. A lot of museums extended opening hours and visiting capacity. The Palace Museum and Sichuan Museum have opened fast-booking and check-in channels for minors, the elderly, the disabled and other groups in special need, shortening queue times. In terms of rules-based management, many museums have introduced special guidelines to regulate third-party docents and prohibit commercial filming, improving the visitor experience. The National Museum of China recently teamed up with the Beijing public security authority to crack down on ticket scalpers who resell free tickets. In terms of publicity and information service, many museums release ticket information in a timely manner and update real-time visitor numbers in exhibition halls. Meanwhile, many museums have issued statements advising visitors to jointly resist "ticket agents" and other behaviors that disrupt the order of visits.

Here, I would also like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to the hardworking frontline museum staff. Next, we will continue to strengthen efforts in the following aspects: First, we will expand service offerings to meet people's needs. We will promote museums that are less well-known yet worth visiting to provide the public with more choices. Museums will be guided to upgrade their services by launching more top-quality and diverse exhibitions and educational activities. Second, we will better cooperate with other departments to form a joint regulatory force. For example, we will move forward in cooperation with public security authorities. Together, we will devise specific measures to crack down on ticket scalpers to intensify regulation. Third, museums should innovate and improve booking services. They will be advised to do so by setting time slots and arranging flexible ticket releases, as well as upgrading reservation systems. With extended opening hours, increased visitor capacity and other measures, museums will be able to accommodate more visitors. At the same time, a blacklist system will be established to counter malicious ticket purchases, ticket stockpiling, and no-shows by increasing the costs for doing so. Finally, it is necessary to strengthen the qualification and certification for third-party docents, maintain the order of visits and optimize visitor experience. Thank you.


Science and Technology Daily:

The report to the 20th CPC National Congress proposed stepping up the protection of cultural relics and cultural heritage, and emphasized the protection and inheritance of historical culture in urban and rural development. What role have cultural relics played in historical culture protection and urban and rural development ? Thank you.

Deng Chao:

Thank you for your question. General Secretary Xi Jinping has emphasized that protecting our cultural relics is also part of the role the government should play, and said we should find a suitable way to effectively protect cultural relics and let their values be realized while promoting socioeconomic development. In recent years, the NCHA has made efforts in this regard, making our unique cultural heritage an integral part of the balanced urban and rural development. The work in this area can be summarized in the following aspects:

First, we have enhanced the protection of cultural relics in the process of urban and rural development by adapting laws and regulations. We have made substantive efforts in revising the Law on the Protection of Cultural Relics and increased requirements for the identification, original site protection and regional evaluation of ungraded immovable cultural relics. We have included immovable cultural relics protection into the planning of territorial space, rigorously protecting cultural relics and other historical and cultural heritage. We also curbed large-scale demolition and construction in urban and rural development, and prohibited pulling down authentic cultural heritage sites and then replacing them with fake ones. In our capital's core function areas, cultural relics are under protection with their values being gradually explored. And the cultural relics under protection of the central government have been well preserved.

Second, the protection and utilization of cultural relics have been linked to our new urbanization initiative. Backed by the central government's special funds for cultural relics, many renowned historical and cultural cities, such as Zhengding, Chengde, Pingyao and Qufu, have been preserved in a holistic way. We made efforts to protect and repair key cultural relic sites and historical and cultural blocks, and improved the overall environment of these places, to redefine their value and redraw the cultural context. Recently, we jointly issued the notice on providing better tourism routes with cultural relic themes, along with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the National Development and Reform Commission. Through this effort, we gave them a new lease of life in the new era while providing an opportunity to learn about the Chinese culture. We have issued guidelines on rational use of cultural relics, as well as advice and typical cases on opening cultural heritage buildings to visitors, encouraging cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Suzhou to innovate and find better ways to hosting visitors at such facilities. Cultural relics and monuments have become important cultural landmarks and tourist destinations, with World Cultural Heritage Sites receiving more than 300 million visitors annually, and national archaeological site parks 34.6 million.

Third, we have emphasized the importance of protecting cultural relics in rural areas, thereby contributing to the rural revitalization strategy. We have researched on the theme of "Leveraging protection and utilization of cultural relics for rural revitalization," focusing on protecting cultural relics in rural areas and summarizing the experiences, actions, and typical cases in protecting and utilizing these relics. Together with the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and other departments, we have released the sixth batch of the Traditional Chinese Villages list. Recently, we have also collaborated with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs to protect fishery culture, guiding local governments to launch a series of projects for safeguarding and restoring cultural relics, including ancient rural residences, ancestral shrines, and historic stages. We have continued the action to "save old houses" and explored adaptive renovation of ancient architecture in Songjiang, Zhejiang province, and other places. In these endeavors, our intention has been to retain cultural roots and memories while also enhancing the quality of life for local people. We have guided Sichuan province to launch a pilot project on building rural grotto cultural parks to explore the coordinated path between the preservation of ancient grottoes and the enhancement of people's wellbeing. We have advanced the project of rural heritage hotels and built rural museums and archaeological site parks, expecting cultural relics in rural areas to play a key role in offering resources to support rural revitalization. Thank you!


Xing Huina:

Due to time constraints, the last question, please.

CNR News:

Having just discussed the advancements of the Archaeology China program, I would also like to inquire about the progress of the project on tracing the origins of Chinese civilization, which has now entered its fifth stage. Could you kindly provide an overview of the project's primary aims and relevant progress at this fifth stage? Thank you.

Li Qun:

Certainly, I will answer your question. The full title of the project on tracing the origins of Chinese civilization you just mentioned is the Comprehensive Study of the Origin and Early Development of Chinese Civilization. It was initiated in 2001 and has now entered its fifth stage. Centered on Chinese history, with particular emphasis on the origin of Chinese civilization, this project is a nationally supported undertaking that involves interdisciplinary collaboration. The project entered the fifth stage of research and commenced in December 2020. At this stage, the project continues to employ a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach. The current research team comprises over 500 researchers from 29 scientific research institutions nationwide. The project focuses on eight subjects and will be advanced as a whole. Over the past two years, progress has been made in the following five aspects.

First, new progress has been made in field archaeology concerning core sites. The earliest prehistoric urban site in the lower reach of the Yellow River region has been uncovered in the Jiaojia ruins in Shandong province. It dates back over 5,000 years. A large-scale building complex consisting of nine stylobates has been found at the No.1 site of the Niuheliang ruins. The "goddess temple" discovered earlier at the Niuheliang ruins also sits on a group of stylobates, marking an important archaeological discovery. Stone carved decorations on the corners of large buildings and tombs arranged in rows have been uncovered at the Shimao ruins in Shaanxi province. A method of land utilization that combines ponds and terraces has been discovered at the Shijiahe and Chenghe ruins in Hubei province. The Baodun ruins in Sichuan province demonstrate a settlement pattern where dwelling areas are surrounded by farmlands, dating back 4,500 years. The multi-grid layout of a capital city has been discovered at the Erlitou ruins in Henan province. Six sacrificial pits have been newly unearthed in the moats of the sacrificial area at the Sanxingdui ruins in Sichuan province, with over 12,000 artifacts uncovered. These discoveries collectively represent the new progress that has been made in the field of field archaeology.

Second, breakthroughs have been made in dating methods. The research team utilized the carbon-14 dating to determine the age of the white lime at the F6 site of the Shimao ruins in Shaanxi province, filling a gap in dating techniques for white lime remines in China. Major breakthroughs have also been made in dating techniques, and lime testing has proved that ancient people could also use lime. At the same time, researchers adopted Bayesian statistics and Kernel Density Estimation to comprehensively analyze dating results, providing fresh insights by exploring the critical time of major ruins. This has led to each historical period becoming more accurate and precise. In particular, a breakthrough has been made in dating the sacrificial pits of the Sanxingdui ruins. Most of the dating data range from 1131 B.C. to 1012 B.C. The ages for pits No.3, No.4, No.7, and No.9 are the same, generally placing them within the late Shang dynasty.

Third, the reconstruction of the ancient environment has been conducted in a refined way. Research on the ancient environment has further revealed the basic features of the prehistoric environment and the influence of major environmental events on the progress of civilization. A comprehensive study and analysis have been carried out concerning the impact of major environmental incidents on the development of regional culture. This includes the seismic activity dating back 5,300 years at the Shuanghuaishu ruins in Henan province, the large-scale floods in the lower reach of the Yangtze River dating from 4,600 to 4,300 years ago, the cold and dry climate around 4,200 years ago that led to the spread of rice-cultivating agriculture at a faster speed to the western region, and the increases in precipitation in the western region dating back 5,200, 3,800, and 2,800 years ago. This research has primarily revealed the role of the natural environment in influencing the origin and early development of Chinese civilization.

Fourth, research on the subsistence economy in ancient times has advanced. The research findings have shown that the specialized and large-scale development of the handicraft economy is a common feature in the formation of complex societies across all regions. First, the cross-regional integration of resources and technologies was important in forming complex societies across a wider region, from the Longshan culture to Erlitou culture. The Taosi ruins in Shanxi province, dating back 4,300 years, had primarily been able to access social resources across regions. People living at the Erlitou ruins, dating back to the Xia dynasty, had strengthened the control and management of jade, metals, and special pottery in different regions. Second, the Central Plains region demonstrated a distinct mixed agricultural production system, with foxtail millet as the major crop and broomcorn millet, soybeans, and rice as supplements. Third, the development of rice-cultivating agriculture was the major reason behind the formation of a complex society and regional differences in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. Different models of rice-cultivating agriculture also coexisted with early complex social structures.

Fifth, the research on archaeological theories has continued to advance. The research team of the project on tracing the origins of Chinese civilization – through archaeological excavation and in combination with the records of ancient histories – has developed theories on civilization and presented a comprehensive description of the formation process of Chinese civilization. The research group has analyzed the exchanges and interactions between Chinese and foreign civilizations from a global perspective and furthered research on important theories. These include the "regional systems and cultural types" model, the "Multi-Petaled Flower" model (which views the Central Plains as the center of the flower and cultural traditions in surrounding areas as layers of petals), and the "Chinese interaction sphere" model. This work has expanded the understanding of the development process of Chinese civilization's pluralistic and integrated pattern.

Next, we will further the research in the project on tracing the origins of Chinese civilization and utilize more archaeological findings to provide additional concrete evidence. This will support the five prominent attributes of Chinese civilization put forward by General Secretary Xi Jinping, namely, continuity, innovation, unity, inclusiveness, and peace. Thank you.

Xing Huina:

Today's briefing is hereby concluded. Thanks to all the speakers and friends from the media. Goodbye, everyone.

Translated and edited by Zhang Rui, Zhang Junmian, Cui Can, Liu Sitong, Xu Xiaoxuan, Wang Wei, Zhang Jiaqi, Li Xiao, Yan Bin, Liu Qiang, Liu Caiyi, Huang Shan, Xu Kailin, Li Huiru, David Ball, and Jay Birbeck. In case of any discrepancy between the English and Chinese texts, the Chinese version is deemed to prevail.

/8    Xing Huina

/8    Li Qun

/8    Jin Ruiguo

/8    Deng Chao

/8    Yan Yalin

/8    Liu Yang

/8    Wen Dayan

/8    Group photo