Tai Chi, 12 Years Later, Finally Accepted to UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List

China was initially told to slow its rate of submission

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3:07 PM HKT, Sat December 19, 2020

12 years after suffering an initial rejection, tai chi has finally been accepted to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The 400-year-old martial art is the foremost of kung fu’s internal styles — its soft movements contain combat applications and wrestling techniques, but it’s more famous today as a mode of wellbeing and internal cultivation.


Tai chi was originally rejected in 2008, when officials came to the decision that China had submitted too many applications. After that, the maximum permitted number of applications was two. The next year, it was one.

Since then, China has managed to snag several placements on the list, such as shadow puppetry and abacus use — but tai chi will be the highest-profile addition yet, with over 100 million practitioners worldwide. As the martial art rises on the world stage, its town of origin Chenjiagou races to capitalize on its history.

Tai chi meets UNESCO’s criteria, representing a “masterpiece of human creative genius.”

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