Culture promoted as tonic for social ills
China is to stage a massive cultural campaign to recapture the hearts and minds of a population increasingly troubled by social problems.
Local government officials have been asked to set aside funding from local budgets to promote cultural activities, particularly to disadvantaged groups in poor regions, Xinhua reported yesterday.
The directives were set out in guidelines released jointly by the Cultural Ministry, State Planning and Development Commission and Ministry of Finance. The document conceded that social stability and local governments in the countryside were under threat.
'In some villages, particularly in economically backward areas, there is not much cultural activity. In some areas superstitions have become popular, corruption has spread, and vices such as prostitution, gambling and drug-taking have become prominent, and in a small number of areas, illegal religions are rampant,' the State Council document carried by Xinhua said.
The document said it was of utmost importance for the Government to 'conquer the [ideological] territory in both the cities and countryside with advanced culture', to promote its policies and consolidate its rule.
The guidelines have listed a number of targets for local governments, although it did not give any time-frame. Each large county should build at least one cultural centre and one library; small counties should at least build a complex which contains a library and areas to host cultural activities; while villages should build their own cultural areas and reading corners.
However, county and district governments will be required to foot their own bills for the ambitious plan. Even in sparsely populated areas such as the border regions and areas inhabited by herders, the central Government also required the local authorities to provide mobile libraries, theatres and cultural centres, it said.
It said each village should have a film screening at least once a month while cultural groups and film companies should circulate books and copies of films throughout the countryside.
For city residents, the guidelines ordered more cultural facilities to be built in communities. It said more efforts should be made to cater for the elderly.