China has over 650 million people in rural areas, which accounts for 48.7 percent of its total population. That proportion declines as more rural people are moving to cities.
How to keep rural culture alive and also improve peasants' lives? In March, Beijing Review reporter Liu Jian interviewed the country's political advisors during the first session of the National Committee of the 12th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, or CPPCC, the country's top political advisory body.
Pan Lusheng, Chairman of the Shandong Federation of Literature and Art Circles and President of Shandong University of Art and Design, has devoted much of his career to studying and protecting Chinese folk art.
As part of his research, Pan visited more than 1,000 rural craftsmen, recorded 121 handcrafting techniques, and collected over 30,000 handcrafted products. He believes it is time to view rural areas from a cultural perspective, and explore new methods of cultural development in the countryside.
"We should leave enough space for rural cultural development in the process of rapid urbanization," Pan said.
To strengthen the construction of rural culture is not only crucial to spiritual ecology, moral accomplishment and cultural literacy for 650 million rural Chinese people, but also helpful to protect traditional Chinese culture.
"Without effective measures to protect rural culture, the development of ethnic culture will be severely obstructed," Pan added.
Yan Gongda, Vice Chairman of China Calligraphers Association, appreciates Pan's views on developing rural culture.
"Folk art has been revived by craftsmen in the countryside. It helps increase their incomes and promotes the cultural industry. It is creative," Yan said. "We can take advantage of making handicrafts at home as a feasible solution for problems related to the aging population and migrant workers in rural areas."