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Minister of culture in China calls for narrowing of cultural gap

Friday, July 25, 2014   (0 Comments)
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The news article reproduced below was originally published on on July 23, 2014.

China will invest more to build public cultural services in underdeveloped regions and for such groups as the elderly, children and migrant workers, aiming to narrow the cultural development gap, the culture minister said on Tuesday.

"During a campaign of improving cultural service for the public, we noticed a widening gap between urban and rural areas, as well as a lack of attention on ethnic groups, the elderly, children and the disabled," said Cai Wu, the minister of culture. "The government will put more emphasis on less developed areas and special groups of people, and provide unique cultural services for them."

Cai said the ministry would also establish standards to evaluate public cultural service projects in different provinces and cities.

During the second thematic consultation meeting of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body, Cai said the work of promoting cultural services including museums, galleries and libraries for the public is almost done. However, there are still many challenges, such as relatively low investment, a widening gap between regions and groups and the absence of social groups, he said.

Since 2005, China has attached great importance to the construction of a public cultural service system.

According to the Ministry of Finance, the Chinese government spent 53.05 billion yuan ($8.55 billion) on improving cultural services for the public in 2013.

Many members of the CPPCC said public cultural resources were not fully used in many cities due to a lack of management talent.

Chen Li, deputy director of the National Library of China, said he saw many books supposedly provided for rural residents relate to business dining rules or computer programming.

Jin Shangyi, honorary chairman of the China Artists Association, said many officials didn't have specific plans before they started building.

"Many cities built a lot of museums, libraries and even grand theaters, despite the limited number of citizens really interested in this," said Jin. "They just want to have beautiful halls."

To solve such problems, CPPCC members suggested focusing on local residents' demands, encouraging the participation of social groups and publicizing government spending on this.

Wang Xueren, a CPPCC member, suggested the government support the translation work of radio and television programs for ethnic groups within border areas.

"Many ethnic groups cannot speak Mandarin and they cannot access public cultural services," said Wang. "I think the government should support the establishment of translation centers to help ethnic groups to listen to radio and watch TV."

Wu Changjiang, another CPPCC member, called for the government to make its cultural spending public to avoid potential corruption.

"I think we should encourage private capital to participate in the construction of public cultural services," Wu said. "And we need to be alert for corruption in cultural programs."

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