Petition Passed to Turn Mahjong into a National Cultural Heritage
Over 80 foreign players participated in the World Mahjong Championship held in Chingqing in late October which surprised many Chinese. Soon after the event thousands of mahjong lovers signed a petition which was evenly divided that aimed to support mahjong to be given the title of intangible cultural heritage.
The petition drew mixed reactions as some say that they are busy fighting gambling and how can one come up of making mahjong into a national cultural heritage. A consultant for the cultural exchange center in Beijing said that instead of bringing mahjong to the edge of extinction, mahjong is brought back to life by a wide range of fans around the world. National cultural heritage are in danger and needs of government protection. Others said that mahjong is a hobby suitable for all ages and helps exercises the mind.
Games like chess and bridges pits players against each other or with two or more, but in mahjong one player needs to compete with three other players at the same time. Mahjong is challenging and trains a person’s strategic thinking. Mahjong and gambling is two different things, mahjong was associated with gambling because people have been doing it for so long and since the game has stakes it was easy to associate it with gambling. Therefore the right guidance should be necessary and should be categorized into three types namely competition, leisure and gambling mahjong.
The submission of the petition is not the first time that mahjong fans tried to make it into a national cultural heritage. The same petition was passed in 2007 but died down as it did not gain any feedback from government departments.