State cultural body criticizes buying back relics stolen from China

17:27, November 17, 2010      

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A famille-rose hollowed-out porcelain bottle produced during the reign of Emperor Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty was sold in the United Kingdom at a sky-high price of 51.60 million pounds sterling (equivalent to 550 million RMB) a few days ago, although its estimated value was not very high. As reported, the purchaser was a Chinese person from Beijing, and almost all the bidders were Chinese.

The response of Chinese officials and civilians and the attitude of overseas media toward the unexpectedly high price this piece of Chinese artwork fetched at global auction are completely different.

As criticized by a British medium, "With the expansion of economic strength of Chinese rich people, Chinese people try their best to buy back their lost cultural heritages at any cost, behind which is 'the patriotism of porcelains.' They endeavor to recover their identity and culture by reclaiming these cultural relics."

Moreover, one British media agency sang "high praises" for such behavior by the Chinese: It is "genuine civilization" for Chinese to buy back things that originally belonged to them from the hands of thieves…

However, some Chinese netizens cast doubt. In fact, Westerners endeavor to reach their purpose by taking advantage of the "patriotism" of Chinese, and the so-called "patriotism" has become the root on which Chinese people are taken advantage of. In the opinion of some Chinese people, buying back looted cultural relics with money is no doubt equivalent to "a second pillage."

However, this behavior will be of no help for the British to bear their shameful act in mind. Instead, this will make the British more and more intoxicated in their barbaric and singular enjoyment from money. It is indeed the logic of robbers that purchasing from the hands of thieves has become "genuine civilization."

As confessed by a Chinese senior collector who is unwilling to disclose his name, "In this event, a gang of Chinese people whooped up the price together, so their motive was very dubious. First, this auction company named "Brainbridge" is little known to people, and the source of its collections and the background of its collectors were also ambiguous." Such a narration as "a porcelain bottle of the period of Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty discovered by a middle-aged British man and his sister while sweeping the room of their deceased relative" sounds like a legend!

"Cheating" acts have emerged one after another in the circle of auction in recent years. Some speculators joined hands with one another for auction at a sky-high price, but they did not pay an equal sum of money in fact. Several years later, they took out the article for another auction, so as to cheat latecomers into a trap.

As said by Song Xinchao, vice-head of The State Administration of Cultural Heritage explicitly when interviewed by a reporter, he did not approve the behavior of purchasing Chinese cultural relics that have flowed out of China. He proposed that we should recover cultural relics by relying on international cooperation, through legal and diplomatic techniques, according to the legal framework and principle for solving the problem of returning illegally-acquired cultural relics in the international community.

By Yan Meng, People's Daily Online

(Editor:燕勐)

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