Cantonese opera has won global recognition as cultural heritage worth protecting. The colourful and intricate art form rooted in southern China has been declared part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations. The list, administered by Unesco, the UN's heritage body, aims to preserve legacies under threat from global change. Cantonese opera troupes and governments from Guangdong, Macau and Hong Kong, where the opera originated, jointly submitted the application last year. Chinese Artists Association vice-chairman Yuen Siu-fai was delighted with the news. 'Now that the art of Cantonese opera is recognised globally, I hope we Hongkongers can make use of the status and develop it, and not let it become a fossil,' he said. 'It's a good time and reason for the historical art form to reach out to a wider audience. Many young people don't try to appreciate the art and often blindly follow Western arts. I hope they will try to enjoy it now.' To be on the list, Unesco says the heritage items have to be transmitted from generation to generation and provide communities and groups with a sense of identity and continuity. Cantonese opera, also called Yueju opera, is among 22 additions to the list this year and joins a total of 76 art forms from around the world, including the tango from Argentina and Uruguay. Other examples of Chinese culture on the list include calligraphy, paper-cutting and the dragon boat festival. Dr Stephen Chow Chun-kay, chairman of the Cantonese Opera Advisory Committee, said he was excited about the recognition. He also said he hoped more young people would take to Yueju. 'Although the opera is now a part of the syllabus of some schools, many young people still don't appreciate the art,' Chow said.