China boasts an over 4,000-year-old recorded history of civilization, but at present relatively complete historical data in the national archives only began in 1616, but recorded history that can be referred to is less than 400 years, many valuable historical materials have scattered about overseas. CPPCC members and archival scientists, during the "CPPCC and NPC sessions", called for stepped-up collection of China's historical documents overseas.
Liu Guoneng, deputy director of the State Archive Bureau and member of the CPPCC National Committee, said that there are many-faceted reasons for the loss of Chinese historical documents: Natural disasters, wars, natural damage, the lack of good care, man-made damage and seizure by foreigners.
Liu said that foreigners grabbed Chinese historical documents by many ways, foreign countries have become important places to which these documents are lost: First, they plundered huge batches of Chinese historical materials through aggressive wars, during the Second Opium War in 1854, the British took away over 20,000 historical documents; second, foreigners grabbed huge amounts of rare cultural relics under the pretext of exploration, missionary work and tourism or through buying up these relics with small amounts of money, these relics include "Turpan documents", inscriptions on bones, Dunhuang documents, which were scattered about in Russia, Japan, Germany, France, Holland and Hungary, etc; third, they took away the relics from the occupied areas, the leaseholds, during Taiwan was occupied by the Netherlands, the Dutch carried away large amounts of Taiwan��s historical data; fourth, they obtained these historical materials in the form as grant.
Liu indicated that the loss of historical materials to foreign countries has resulted in the loss of chronological records of events, as a consequence, the history of Chinese science and technology has to be written by foreigners, and the Chinese have to go abroad to consult historical materials they need. He opines that collecting lost files concerns filling in the gaps of centuries-old historical records and the clarity and solution of some historical problems, as well as the heredity of Chinese culture.
By People's Daily Online