The Institute of Ethnic Literature of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences is in the forefront of efforts to record, document, and analyze the living oral traditions of China’s ethnic minorities, including works in the epic genre such as the three heroic epic cycles, namely the Gesar epic, the Janggar epic, and the Manas epic. In part, thanks to personal contacts between Chinese, North American, and European scholars, the Institute’s current research initiatives are formulated in close interaction with theoretical models known in the West. Moreover, these initiatives are grounded in a threefold “archive/base/network” approach to the living oral traditions of China as vital elements of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.