Canada re­turns more of China’s an­cient relics

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By NA LI in Toronto re­nali@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

What coun­try wouldn’t want to get back its 220 mil­lion-year-old fish fos­sil?

That was one of the her­itage ob­jects Canada re­turned to China last week. Un­der­scor­ing the strong co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries, it was the third re­turn of cul­tural prop­erty to China by the gov­ern­ment in Ottawa.

Ear­lier in Jan­uary, Mélanie Joly, min­is­ter of Cana­dian her­itage, had met with Liu Yuzhu, di­rec­tor of the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cul­tural Her­itage, and con­firmed the re­turn of il­le­gally ex­ported cul­tural prop­erty to China. An of­fi­cial cer­e­mony was held in Ottawa on Jan 18.

The sig­nif­i­cant her­itage ob­jects re­turned are a 220 mil­lion-yearold Sau­richthys fish fos­sil from South­west China’s Guizhou prov­ince; an early Ichthyosaur fos­sil, likely dat­ing to the early Tri­as­sic pe­riod (252 to 247 mil­lion years ago) orig­i­nat­ing from China, and a pair of carved wooden roof sup­ports from south­west­ern China.

The ob­jects were il­le­gally ex­ported from China and were held in Canada by the Canada Bor­der Ser­vices Agency and the RCMP. China claimed the ob­jects as cul­tural prop­erty and re­quested their re­turn.

Wang Wen­tian, chargé d’af­faires a.i. at the Chi­nese em­bassy in Canada, ac­cepted the trans­fer letter from Hu­bert Lussier, as­sis­tant deputy min­is­ter, cit­i­zen­ship, her­itage and re­gions, of the De­part­ment of Cana­dian Her­itage.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment re­turn­ing the her­itage ob­jects to China,” Wang said. “It shows a re­spon­si­ble at­ti­tude for Canada to ful­fill UNESCO’s con­ven­tion (and) demon­strates the co­op­er­a­tion be­tween our two coun­tries in com­bat­ing the smug­gling of cul­tural relics.”

Wang said it helped by the achieve­ments from ex­change vis­its. Premier Li Ke­qiang trav­eled to Canada in Septem­ber for talks with Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau.

The two men agreed to start ex­ploratory trade talks on a free trade agree­ment and pledged to dou­ble bi­lat­eral trade by 2025. They also reached an agree­ment to try to solve a dis­pute over Cana­dian canola ex­ports by 2020.

Li said China would lift a ban on im­ports of bone-in beef less than 30 months old. It was a re­flec­tion of “China’s com­mit­ment to, and China’s good­will to, farm­ers and pro­duc­ers in Canada”, the premier said in Septem­ber.

Lussier ex­plained Canada’s com­mit­ment to co­op­er­a­tion on cul­tural her­itage ob­jects.

“Our Cul­tural Prop­erty Ex­port and Im­port Act of 1977 en­abled Canada to be­come a party to the (UN) con­ven­tion and em­pow­ers the CHINA, PAGE 6 De­part­ment of Cana­dian Her­itage to pro­tect Canada’s own ob­jects of cul­tural and his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance and to pre­vent the il­licit im­port of cul­tural prop­erty to Canada,” Lussier said. “Since that time, our coun­try has de­fended the con­ven­tion’s as­ser­tion that the pro­tec­tion of cul­tural her­itage can be ef­fec­tive only if or­ga­nized both na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally among states work­ing in close co­op­er­a­tion.”

He said that “this re­turn demon­strates Canada’s on­go­ing com­mit­ment to pre­vent the il­licit traf­fic of cul­tural prop­erty and to en­sure its re­turn to its coun­try of ori­gin. It is an ex­am­ple of the suc­cess­ful co­op­er­a­tion of gov­ern­ment de­part­ments and agen­cies work­ing to­gether to en­force the Cul­tural Prop­erty Ex­port and Im­port Act.”

We ap­pre­ci­ate the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment re­turn­ing the her­itage ob­jects to China.”

PHOTO / XIN­HUA

The Min­istry of Cana­dian Her­itage on Jan 18 re­turned to China these il­le­gally ex­ported carved wooden roof sup­ports from Yun­nan prov­ince in South­west China.

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