Religion-Related Intangible Cultural Heritage Safeguarding Practices and Initiatives of the Contemporary Chinese State

Yawen Xu, Yu Tao

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    This paper reveals the contemporary Chinese state’s active role in shaping the country’s religion-related intangible cultural heritage (ICH) safeguarding, through a systematic review of China’s official inventories of national representative ICH projects and extensive investigations of relevant local practices and initiatives. Although China is ruled by a political party officially embracing an atheist ideology, various elements of the contemporary Chinese state have been proactively involved in safeguarding religion-related ICH. The Chinese state’s involvement in de facto religion-related ICH safeguarding predates its adoption of explicit ICH safeguarding narratives. Still, the Chinese state’s practices and initiatives in safeguarding religion-related ICH flourished after ratifying the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2004. Since then, China’s central government has established a nationwide framework to recognise representative ICH items, including religion-related ones. Beyond Beijing, various local state agencies have also developed noticeable enthusiasm for supporting the safeguarding of religion-related ICH. In addition to engaging directly with ICH safeguarding, the contemporary Chinese state has also shaped China’s religion-related ICH by working closely with some academics and religious groups.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number687
    Number of pages22
    Issue number8
    Early online date22 Jul 2022
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


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