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China: Law to Improve Public Cultural Services Passed

(Mar. 13, 2017) On December 25, 2016, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) passed the Public Cultural Services Guarantee Law.  (Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo Gonggong Wenhua Fuwu Baozhang Fa (the Law) (promulgated on Dec. 25, 2016, effective on Mar. 1, 2017), Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council website; English translation available at Westlaw China online subscription database.)

The Law is designed to improve public cultural services in China. “Public cultural services” refers to “public cultural facilities, products, activities and other services, provided for the purpose of meeting people’s basic cultural needs, under the leadership of the government and with the involvement of the society.”  (The Law, arts. 1 & 2.)

Some highlights of the Law are as follows.

A Government-Led Campaign

The Law requires local governments above the county level to include public cultural services in local economic and social planning and the State Council to issue guidance on national public cultural services.  (Id. arts. 4 & 5.)  The Law further provides that local governments have the obligation to manage and improve public cultural services.  Government officials who misappropriate public services’ funding, impede construction and operation of cultural facilities, or conduct other unlawful activities in their work relating to public cultural services will be subject to punishment.  (Id. arts. 59, 61, & 62.)

Free Access to Cultural Facilities Encouraged

According to article 14 of the Law, public cultural facilities include, among others, public libraries, museums, memorials, gyms, children’s activity centers, and activity centers for the elderly. (Id. art. 14.)  The managing bodies for public cultural facilities are encouraged to provide free access or discounts to the public and must provide free access to the facilities to primary and secondary school students at least once a month.  (Id. art. 31.)  The government will provide financial support for those public cultural services.  (Id. art. 47.)

Emphasis on Cultural Services in Rural and Poor Areas

The Law puts emphasis on the improvement of public cultural services in old revolutionary-base areas, minority ethnic regions, and poor and border areas.  (Id. art. 8.)  In addition, extra cultural supplies, such as books, journals, films, and TV programs, will be provided in rural areas based on people’s needs.  (Id. arts. 35 & 36.)

Other Relevant Laws in Progress

The Public Cultural Services Guarantee Law is the second law regulating cultural activities in China passed by the NPC in recent months.  On November 7, 2016, the NPC adopted the Film Industry Promotion Law.  (Laney Zhang, China: First Law on Film Industry Effective in March GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Feb. 28, 2017).)  Several other laws in this area are reportedly on the legislative agenda, including the Public Libraries Law and the Culture Industry Promotion Law.  (Wenhuabu: Tuidong Gonggong Tushuguan Fa Jinkuai Chutai [Ministry of Culture: Accelerate the Legislative Process of the Public Libraries Law], CHINANEWS (Feb. 17, 2017).)

Prepared by Emma Wei, Law Library Intern, under the supervision of Laney Zhang, Senior Foreign Law Specialist.