A guideline issued by the State Council of China requires local governments to assume the main responsibility in securing the safety of cultural relics.
"Recent years have seen frequent robberies and trafficking of cultural relics. From 2014, public security authorities nationwide have dealt with around 2,000 such crimes every year," Liu Yuzhu, head of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) said Friday.
Cases committed by cultural-relics-related organizations accounted for 76.5 percent of all cases handled by SACH in 2016. The illegal dealing, storing and auctioning of cultural relics has been rampant in recent years, Liu said.
The guideline was released in order to intensify supervision and close loopholes in protection work.
It specifies that local governments should fulfill the main responsibility in the management and security of local cultural relics, related departments should assume supervision responsibility, and managers and users of cultural relics should also take direct responsibility.
Cultural relic protection should be a factor in assessing the performance of local governments. Funds for protection should be incorporated into fiscal budgets. County-level governments are responsible for the safety of cultural relics, the guideline said.
The guideline calls for stronger inspection over protection work, tougher crackdowns on crimes and a more standardized cultural relics trading market.
The government is encouraged to purchase more services to ensure cultural relics are properly safeguarded. Legitimate collection of culture relics should also be encouraged.
"Modern science and technology should play a bigger part in improving the protection of cultural relics," Liu said. "Criminals are getting more elusive and professional, better organized and smarter."
Liu said that SACH had deployed drones and satellite remote sensing technology in law enforcement. And a platform would be set up to supervise the security of key cultural heritage sites under state protection and world cultural heritage sites.
"An information center of cultural relics crime has been established, and so far it has more than 20,000 information items in storage," Liu said.
The guideline required SACH to conduct annual inspection of local governments' cultural relic protection work. Provincial governments will supervise over the handling of major risks, accidents and criminal cases concerning cultural relics.
The guideline also underlines the need to improve the accountability system for relic security, and to take stronger action against those responsible for the damage, loss and theft of relics.