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NO.8 (April 2, 2004)

  • Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng Meets the Press
  • Deng Pufang: Humanism-My Pursuit

    Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng Meets the Press

           At a recent press conference sponsored by the State Council Information Office, Chinese Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng introduced to Chinese and foreign reporters the development of China's cultural undertakings and cultural industries, as well as China's foreign cultural exchange. He also answered questions posed by them.
           Minister Sun said the Chinese Government attaches great importance to cultural development and persists in the scientific view of development. It has integrated culture into the country's overall strategic plan for coordinated and sustainable development and continuously pushed forward the reform of the cultural management system, in an effort to consistently develop public welfare cultural undertakings and cultural industries and expand foreign cultural exchange. With all these efforts made, China's cultural work has entered a new stage featuring vigorous progress and innovation.
           Main Achievements
           1. Implementing the strategy of creating excellent works and further improving the quality of cultural products and services.Recent years saw both increases in the number and improvement in the quality of literary and artistic works, which has further enriched the cultural life of the Chinese people. To further enhance the quality of cultural products and cultural service, the Ministry of Culture has implemented the strategy of creating excellent works and initiated the Program of Excellent Works for the Stage. Since 2002, the state has earmarked 40 million yuan each year to support the creation of artistic works for the stage. It is planned that by 2006, some 50 excellent works with a strong spirit of the times and artistic appeal will be created, with the aim of accumulating a batch of outstanding repertoires for China's art stage and prospering the country's literature and art.
           2. Strengthening the construction of public cultural facilities and enriching the people's cultural life.Attaching great importance to the construction of public cultural facilities, the Chinese Government has increased input in related infrastructures. Expenditures on cultural undertakings have increased significantly. Construction of cultural infrastructure facilities has entered the peak period in history, with the launching of a batch of key projects funded by the state, including the National Theatre, National Museum, National Library, National Modern Drama Theatre and National Gallery, as well as the renovation of the old structures in the Palace Museum. Efforts have been pooled to develop grass-roots mass cultural activities in both urban and rural areas. A new-type dynamic management system and operational mechanism for social cultural activities featuring government guidance and public participation has taken shape, and a working network involving all social strata has been formed. In recent years, the government has invested 480 million yuan to fund the construction of cultural facilities in rural areas, particularly in the western region and poor areas. Nevertheless, the poor cultural life of the people, particularly farmers, in these areas remains a key problem to be resolved.
           3. Strengthening the construction and management of the cultural market and vigorously developing cultural industries.A fairly complete cultural market system has been established in the country. The Ministry of Culture has formulated the Guideline for the Development of the Cultural Market (2003-10). Efforts have been made to intensify the management over the cultural market in accordance with the law and in a scientific way. Through many years of rectification, the order in the cultural market has improved considerably. Management over electronic game halls, Internet cafes and other entertainment venues has been brought on to a legal track, and the smuggling and piracy of audio-visual products have been effectively contained. However, the task of rectification remains arduous, and efforts in this regard will be intensified. During the restructuring of government organizations in 1998, the Ministry of Culture established the Department of Cultural Industries. In recent years, the ministry has formulated the 10th Five-Year Plan for the Development of Cultural Industries, and Several Opinions of the Ministry of Culture on Promoting the Development of Cultural Industries. These documents put forward guiding ideas and measures for flourishing the cultural market. Cultural departments in various localities have worked out corresponding policies and measures, and carried out restructuring and reform in state-owned cultural units engaged in business operations. At present, China's cultural market is open to all kinds of capital. To honor our commitment to WTO entry, we have actively readjusted cultural resources and further given play to the fundamental role of the market in the distribution of cultural resources.
           4. Boosting international cultural exchange.Thus far, China has signed governmental cultural cooperation agreements with 145 countries worldwide. International cultural exchange has become ever more diversified in forms and channels. Non-governmental exchange has developed swiftly, accounting for more than 90 percent of China's total foreign cultural exchange programs. In 2003, we established China cultural centers in Mauritius, Benin, France, Egypt, Malta and the Republic of Korea (ROK). The renovation of the China Cultural Center in Seoul, ROK, has just started. Preparations for five other cultural centers in such countries as Germany, Italy and Russia are now underway. Significant progress has been made in multilateral and regional cooperation. We have successfully hosted the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Cultural Ministerial Meeting and the ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) Conference on Cultures and Civilizations. This year we will host the INCP (International Network on Cultural Policy) Ministerial Meeting. We have also held a series of large-scale cultural exchange events abroad, such as Experience Chinese Culture in the United States, Asia-Pacific Week in Berlin and China Cultural Year in France. A number of major international cultural exchange activities have become brand names, such as the China Shanghai International Arts Festival, Meet in Beijing Arts Festival, Beijing International Music Festival and the Wuqiao International Acrobatics Festival. Cultural exchange has played an important role in enhancing mutual understanding and friendship, safeguarding world peace and promoting common development.
           5. Intensifying protection of cultural heritages.We have implemented the Law on the Protection of Cultural Relics in an all-round way and strengthened the basic work regarding the protection of cultural relics. With the announcement of the fifth batch of key heritage sites under state protection, the total number of such sites has reached 1,271. The number of China's World Natural and Cultural Heritage Sites now totals 29, ranking third in the world. A large number of endangered precious cultural relics have been promptly rescued and put under protection, and a group of key cultural relics have been restored. In addition, projects to renovate a batch of key cultural sites have been launched, including the Palace Museum in Beijing, Yungang Grottoes in Shanxi Province, and the Potala Palace, Sagya Monastery and Norbu Linkha (the Dalai Lama's summer palace) in Tibet. Meanwhile, the project to protect ethnic and folk cultural legacies has been initiated. Thekunquopera andguqininstrument (ancient seven-string zither) have entered the UNESCO list of masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity. The Law on the Protection of Ethnic and Folk Cultures has been submitted to the National People's Congress for deliberation. The process of cultural legislation has been speeded up.
           6. Steadily advancing the pilot reform of the cultural management system.To fully mobilize the initiative of literary and art workers, further emancipate the productive force in the literature and art field, and boost the development of cultural undertakings and cultural industries, we have vigorously pushed forward the pilot reform of the cultural management system, in accordance with the instruction of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. The cultural management reform in seven pilot units and nine pilot regions has proceeded smoothly.
           Though major progress has been achieved in China's cultural development, there are still many weak links in construction and management. So, we still face arduous tasks in reform and development. China's cultural development, like the socialist modernization drive, has entered a new stage featuring in-depth reform and vigorous development.
           Vigorously Developing Public Cultural Undertakings and Cultural Industries
           When asked about what difficulties various cultural units face in restructuring and reform and whether the Chinese Government will give nonpublic cultural enterprises the same treatment as their state-owned counterparts, Minister Sun said the reform of the cultural management system aims to fully mobilize the initiative and creativity of literature and art workers and inspire the enthusiasm of the whole society to develop cultural undertakings. The reform follows the basic idea of energetically developing both public cultural undertakings and cultural industries.
           The minister noted that China's public welfare cultural facilities, such as libraries, museums and cultural centers, mainly provide public cultural services for the masses of people. While financial input in public cultural undertakings mainly relies on the government, public participation is encouraged. To enhance the public welfare nature of such facilities, some of them will soon stop charging admission fees from children and juveniles. With increases in government input and public funding, a batch of cultural facilities may open to the public free of charge in the future.
           The minister stated that as cultural enterprises constitute the main body of cultural industries, fostering cultural enterprises is a main task to develop such industries. During the course to turn existing state-owned cultural institutions engaged in business operations into cultural enterprises, various social forces should be mobilized to develop cultural enterprises of various forms of ownership. Relevant Chinese laws stipulate that non-public enterprises should enjoy equal treatment as state-owned ones, including taxation and export power. The Ministry of Culture encourages non-public enterprises to handle the exports of audio-visual products, which will greatly increase the export of these products.
           According to Minister Sun, the State Council has attached great importance to the reform of the cultural management system, and pilot projects have been launched in accordance with the unified plan of the central authorities. A number of state-owned cultural institutions under the ministry are undergoing structural reforms on a trial basis, including the China International Performance Co., the China International Exhibition Co. and the Beijing Children's Art Theatre.
           The minister disclosed that the government promises appropriate arrangement of redundant employees of restructured units, and the State Council will soon issue relevant documents to ensure the smooth progress of this work. The restructuring of cultural institutions will not lay off a large number of employees as many large and medium-sized state-owned enterprises have done. The government will allocate some capital to initiate a new employment mechanism.
           On the question about the monopoly of cabled TV, the minister said the practice that permits nonpublic economies to enter the cultural field has injected new vitality into cultural undertakings. However, given the diversity of cultural undertakings, the Chinese Government has adopted different policies and measures in accordance with their varied conditions, which is rational. Continuous study will be conducted about the further opening and reform of some departments.

           Sun revealed that the Ministry of Culture is drafting the Plan on the Reform of China's Cultural Management System and the Program on Cultural Development.

           Coping With Challenges From WTO Entry
           The minister said China has followed the set timetable to honor its commitment to the WTO entry with regard to the opening of the cultural market. For instance, it has lifted limits on the quantity and quota of audio-visual imports, while continuing to censor the contents of such imports.
           According to statistics, in the first 10 months of 2003, China gave approval to the import of 2,482 titles of audio-visual products, with the amount and sales revenue accounting for 10 percent and 20 percent respectively of the total in China's audio-visual market.
           China has made great efforts to import excellent audio-visual products from various countries, said the minister. Though audio-visual imports have put competitive pressure on domestic products, they help stimulate domestic audio-visual producers to improve quality and enliven their operational mechanisms. In fact, positive results have already been yielded. China's audio-visual exports have increased rapidly, with the annual volume exceeding 100 million yuan. However, owing to the limited base figure, China now still registers deficit in the trade of such products despite the high growth rate.
           The minister stressed that the current threat to China's audio-visual industry chiefly comes from piracy but not imports, and concentrated efforts will be pooled to crack down on such criminal activities.
           Increasing Cultural Cooperation With Neighboring Countries
           While answering questions posed by Pakistan and Indian reporters, Minister Sun said international cultural exchange is a main channel for the Chinese people to tighten their relations with the world. China needs to understand the world, and vice versa. Undoubtedly, culture is the most direct way among various forms of exchange.
           The minister said China has always valued good neighborly relations, as a Chinese saying goes "neighbors are dearer than distant relatives". While developing cultural relations with its neigh-boring countries, China has placed Pakistan at an important place, believing that Pakistan is its all-weather friend. China hopes to closer the ties between the two peoples through further cultural exchange and cooperation.
           India has been a friendly neighbor of China, said Sun. Recent years have seen positive progress in bilateral economic, political and cultural ties, as well as a trend of continuous development. When conditions are ripe, China expects to sign a formal cultural exchange plan with India.
           According to Zhao Qizheng, minister in charge of the State Council Information Office, apart from international cultural exchange activities sponsored by relevant central authorities, China's border provinces and autonomous regions have published periodicals in eight foreign languages used by neighboring countries. Periodicals in languages used by all China's neighboring countries will be published in the coming couple of years.
           National Theatre to Canvass Premiere Repertoires
           Minister Sun disclosed that the National Theatre, to be put into use at the end of 2005, has begun canvassing premiere repertoires from prestigious troupes at home and abroad. The building of a national theatre has been a dream cherished by China's cultural workers and the Chinese people. With the continuous growth in China's comprehensive national strength since reform and opening-up, this dream will soon come true.
           Construction of the National Theatre began at the end of 2001. The project, comprising an opera theatre, a concert hall and a drama theatre, covers 149,500 square meters and involves a total investment of 2.688 billion yuan. Currently, construction of main structures is underway. The project, which has been proceeding strictly in line with set procedures and quality requirements, is expected to complete on schedule.
           It is planned that the premiere repertoires will include 12-15 domestic classical pieces and excellent works created at home in recent years, and 7-8 performances staged by international renowned art troupes.
           Clearing Up the Cultural Market
           On the Internet culture, the minister said that a problem that has drawn extensive concern is related to Internet cafes. The rapid development of such venues is beyond people's expectation. It is an imminent task to curb their harmful effects while developing the positive side. The regulations on the management over Internet cafes promulgated by the State Council fall into the category of being drafted in the shortest period of time and evoking the promptest response from the general republic. Through intensive rectification, the vile tendency in the development of Internet cafes has been curbed. But three prominent problems still remain. Namely, there are still many illegal Internet cafes, and many continue to host minors and disseminate information with pernicious effects. The State Council will convene a television and telephone meeting on the rectification and development of Internet cafes.

           With regard toerrenzhuan, a song-and-dance duet popular in northeast China, Minister Sun said this art, with its popularity, should be confirmed and deserves due attention. Some of its contents, however, should be transformed in accordance with the principles of "encouraging advanced culture, transforming backward culture and boycotting decadent culture", so as to let it flourish as a healthy and popular art form.

    Deng Pufang: Humanism-My Pursuit

    --Deng Pufang, chairman of the China Federation of Disabled Persons (CFDP), was awarded the 2003 UN Human Rights Prize, making him the first Chinese and also the first disabled person in the worm to win the prize. This also shows the international community's recognition of China's effort to safeguard the rights and interests of disabled people. During a recent interview with a People's Daily reporter, Deng talked about his thinking after receiving the prize.

           "What we've accomplished falls far behind what we are desirous to do."
           Question: Congratulations on your winning the UN Human Rights Prize. As the first Chinese to receive the award, how do you comment on the significance of the prize to China's human rights cause, particularly to the undertakings for disabled persons?
           Answer: I think it has dual significance. First, the international community has recognized the progress made in China's human rights cause. As the prize was granted to me, I think, in a sense, it is an award to China's undertakings for disabled persons. It has confirmed the long-term efforts pooled by the Chinese Government to develop the human rights cause, to work for the interests of the whole people, and to improve the livelihood of the masses, particularly that of disabled persons and other disadvantageous social groups.
           Second, it shows that the UN human rights system now attaches greater importance to disabled persons and that the international community has gained new understandings of the issue of the disabled. With regard to the issue of the disabled, focus used to be laid on legislation. Now, more and more people address this issue from the perspective of human rights. The international community is drafting the International Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons. This is a major progress, indicating that the international community is attaching greater importance to safeguarding the human rights of disabled persons.
           Q: Does the award suggest the condition of China's disabled people is satisfactory?
           A: No, it is absolutely not. But, we have made great progress, or gratifying progress. With regard to the conditions of disabled people, about 6 million of them are not sufficiently fed, clothed or housed, and the number of those living in poverty has exceeded 10 million. We've done a lot of work, which makes us feel very inspiring. But, what we've accomplished falls far behind what we are desirous to do.
           "Humanism is my pursuit."
           Q: You said the inhuman chaos has crippled your body, but you want to use it to establish a humanitarian order. Is it the final goal for all you are doing?
           A: I didn't say that, but I agree with the idea. I don't think humanism is my final pursuit. But, I deem it one of my pursuits, or a main goal to accomplish in my life. Honestly speaking, humanism was once lost in our society.
           Q: During the course to advance humanism, we find it hard to change people's concept, though doing practical things is much easier.
           A: We've made progress step by step. For instance, when we began to advocate humanism, it was just being subject to criticism. So we appealed for stopping the criticism. We asked whether humanism was profuse or scarce in China. If it was profuse, why so many inhuman practices occurred during the "cultural revolution"? So, in the beginning, we suggested that humanism should be made a banner of the undertakings for disabled people and a basic thinking of our country. We called for learning from humanism practiced in other countries and letting the masses of Chinese people accept humanism, in order to safeguard the right of the person and the interests of all people.
           Q: How should people sound in mind and body treat disabled people, and how should disabled people look at themselves?
           A: Sympathy is important, as sympathy is a moral character possessed by all kind hearted people. Respect should be equally stressed. You should respect disabled people, or you may help them to the best of your capacity. Furthermore, many disabled people hope to be treated equally, and heartfelt respect from others is much appreciated.
           Two types of mentality are common among disabled people. First, many have a sense of inferiority, so they tend to be self-enclosed and may go to extremes sometimes. In the final analysis, this phenomenon is caused by society. So, we encourage disabled people to seek self-development and to be optimistic. Second, many other disabled people are eager to improve themselves, such as Zhang Haidi and Wu Yunduo. Their tenacious spirit of self-improvement and hard struggle and, through which, living a worthy life and displaying their own talents and abilities in spite of their deformities deserves our admiration.
           "Society should render greater support to the undertakings for disabled people."
           Q: You've been on the post of CFDP chairman for a long time. What achievements has the CFDP made?
           A: China now has a fairly good organizational system for disabled people. For instance, following the founding of city- and county-level federations of disabled persons, urban sub-district and township-level organizations are being established. In deed, we've done lots of practical things in the interest of disabled people. For instance, we've helped 8.8 million disabled persons recover. The school entrance rate of blind and hearing- and mentally handicapped children now has reached 74 percent against the respective rates of 2.7 percent, 5.5 percent and 0.33 percent in 1987. The number of schools engaged in special education has jumped from 500 to 1,600, showing an annual increase of 100 between the 1980s-90s, In spite of the great pressure on employment and the large number of laid-off workers nationwide, the employment rate of disabled people has kept going up. This should be attributed to the efforts we have made bit by bit.
           Q: What are the imminent problems to be tackled with for disabled persons in poverty?
           A: Priority should be given to food, clothing and housing. In recent years, the government has launched many development-oriented poverty-relief programs. In urban areas, those who cannot work are granted minimum living allowances, while in rural areas, various poverty-relief measures have been taken to help the disabled. Disabled people can also apply for special poverty-relief loans. Many problems, such as the recovery, education and employment of disabled people, need to be addressed one by one. More funds and facilities are required to solve these problems.
           The 16th National Congress of the CPC set the goal of building a well-off society in an all-round way. Disabled persons should also pursue an affluent life. We plan to raise the living standards of part of them to a well-off level in 10-20 years. But the work is quite different from the poverty-relief program which only needs to provide the disabled with sufficient food and clothing. You cannot let all the disabled live a better-off life just by providing them with material help. You must help them improve their health and enhance their abilities and educational level, so that they or their family members can find normal jobs in society to support themselves and further develop their initiative to pursue a well-off life. We still lack experience in this regard and need to make continuous explorations.
           Q: As chairman of the CFDP, what specific suggestions would you like to make to the Party's policies and government decrees on disabled persons?
           A: Fundamental changes have taken place in the Chinese society since the Law on Security for the Disabled was put into effect in 1990. Some clauses may be outdated. So, we suggest amendments to the law should be put on the agenda.
           Currently, we are drafting regulations on the employment of disabled persons. We did face great difficulties. But we hope the formulation of the regulations could provide disabled people with a better employment environment.
           We also suggest that local legislation should be accelerated to better serve disabled people. Take the Traffic Law for example. Many countries and regions worldwide permit qualified disabled people to drive cars. We should follow suit. Some disabled people can afford a car. If they can drive, why shouldn't they? Now, some cities complain the tricycles used by disabled people have adversely affected traffic and plan to ban them. This won't do, as it will deprive some crippled people from their riding tools.
           Another suggestion is about law enforcement. We hope the annual enforcement inspection conducted by the National People's Congress and the investigations made by the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference could cover imminent problems involving disabled persons.
           "My father was very concerned of the undertakings for disabled persons."
           Q: Did your father Deng Xiaoping give you any support and guidance in your work?
           A: Yes, he did. But I never asked him to say anything for me or write a single inscription for disabled people, as I have always thought I should rely on my own efforts, but not on my father's reputation to do things. Though he didn't write any inscription with regard to disabled people, he had always been concerned of and supported this undertaking, which I know from my personal experience.
           According to reports, last year the state treasury earmarked over 100 million yuan to the development of the undertakings for disabled people. This year, the budget of the CFDP has increased by 32 million yuan or 29 percent on last year. With the approval of the State Council, a larger amount of public welfare fund raised from the welfare lottery has been put into undertakings for the disabled. In the three years between 2003-05, the government will allocate 600 million yuan in the recovery, education and poverty-relief of disabled people, as well as the 2008 Olympics for the Disabled.
           Breakthroughs have also been made in the construction of state-funded infrastructure facilities for the disabled. The Shanghai Sports and Art Center for the Disabled has been completed. Selection of the site for the National Center of Olympics for the Disabled and the appraisal of the project have been completed. Bidding for the facility's design is underway. In addition, the government has financed the construction of comprehensive service facilities for the disabled in 195 counties nationwide.

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