No sell­ing relics

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By LIN QI linqi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

A new reg­u­la­tion that bans the auc­tion of stolen, smug­gled and looted cul­tural relics re­in­forces China’s stance on pre­vent­ing the loss of relics and re­triev­ing those il­le­gally abroad.

A new reg­u­la­tion that bans the auc­tion of stolen, smug­gled and looted cul­tural relics re­in­forces China’s firm stance on pre­vent­ing the loss of relics and re­triev­ing those that have been il­le­gally trans­ported abroad.

The State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cul­tural Relics is­sued the reg­u­la­tion on Oct 20 on its web­site, spec­i­fy­ing the types of cul­tural ob­jects that, if orig­i­nally ob­tained il­le­gally, can­not ap­pear in sales.

They in­clude all types of art­works dat­ing be­fore 1949, as well as doc­u­ments and ob­jects of his­tor­i­cal im­por­tance and works of late mod­ern artists that are re­stricted by law from ex­por­ta­tion.

Also banned at auc­tion are cul­tural relics that are con­fis­cated and re­cov­ered by the gov­ern­ment and that are col­lected or stored by gov­ern­men­tal bod­ies or non­govern­ment mu­se­ums.

The reg­u­la­tion also stresses the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cul­tural Relics’ right of pri­or­ity on pur­chas­ing legally ob­tained cul­tural relics that have made it to auc­tion.

In re­cent years, the num­ber of Chi­nese buy­ers bid­ding for Chi­nese an­tiques at auc­tion world­wide has in­creased. Some of the items were ob­tained through such il­le­gal means as ar­chae­o­log­i­cal poach­ing and il­le­gal ex­port­ing.

In 2013, French busi­ness­man Fran­cois-Henri Pin­ault re­turned to China the bronze heads of a rab­bit and a rat that had been looted from Beijing’s Old Sum­mer Palace by the An­glo-French forces dur­ing the Sec­ond Opium War in 1890. Their ap­pear­ance at auc­tion in 2009 had aroused anger in China.

The new reg­u­la­tion re­it­er­ates that the gov­ern­ment dis­cour­ages pri­vate buy­ers from pur­chas­ing cul­tural relics abroad that were flown out il­le­git­i­mately, said Huo Zhengxin, a pro­fes­sor at China Univer­sity of Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence and Lawin Beijing.

“It means buy­ers can­not re­sell them back home. And less par­tic­i­pa­tion of Chi­nese bid­ders, who now play a big role in the global art mar­ket, will pre­vent the prices of Chi­nese relics be­ing pushed even higher,” he said.

Declar­ing such com­mer­cial trans­ac­tions not le­git­i­mate helps to pave the way for the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment to re­trieve looted art trea­sures through le­gal and diplo­matic chan­nels in the fu­ture, he added.

Liu Shuangzhou, a pro­fes­sor at Cen­tral Univer­sity of Fi­nance and Eco­nom­ics in Beijing, said that auc­tion houses must pro­vide auc­tion cat­a­logs to cul­tural relics de­part­ments for re­view and ver­i­fi­ca­tion be­fore sales.

While the reg­u­la­tion is not im­ple­mented in Hong Kong, ju­di­cial co­op­er­a­tion is needed be­tween the cen­tral gov­ern­ment and the Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion when looted cul­tural relics are found to be headed for auc­tion, Liu said.

... less par­tic­i­pa­tion of Chi­nese bid­ders ... will pre­vent the prices of Chi­nese relics be­ing pushed even higher.” Huo Zhengxin, pro­fes­sor at China Univer­sity of Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence and Law

LI XIN/ XIN­HUA

Vis­i­tors at the Na­tional Mu­seum of China in Beijing view the bronze heads of a rab­bit and a rat in 2013 that had been looted in 1890 and re­turned to China three years ago by a French busi­ness­man.

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