Chinese cultural relics list released to appeal for protection worldwide

09:33, November 10, 2010      

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A Red List of Chinese Cultural Objects at Risk was released Tuesday in Shanghai by the International Council of Museums (ICOM), appealing for people and institutions worldwide to protect Chinese cultural relics.

The list, published in Chinese and English, divides Chinese cultural relics at risk of being smuggled into 13 categories, with pictures to help identification. It is the first time the ICOM has released a red list for China.

ICOM and the Chinese Society of Museums are jointly appealing to museums, collectors, dealers and other related institutions and persons "not to purchase the listed objects before knowing its sources," said Julien Anfruns, director general of the ICOM.

The Red List is not a catalog for China to recover its overseas cultural relics, but a tool to avoid international smuggling, Anfruns said.

The list aimed to help the customs, public security bureaus, museums and cultural relics departments of each country to identify the cultural objects which are protected by law, but often become smuggling targets in art markets, he said.

The 13 categories include ceramics, sculptures, metal works, folk arts, jade works, paintings and calligraphies, inscriptions, rubbings, books and documents, building components, lacquer, money and clothing .

The list's emphasis reiterates that Chinese cultural relics are protected by Chinese laws and international regulations. It also offers the phone number of China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage and the Ministry of Public Security to receive reports on suspected illegal cultural relics.

"Although the Chinese government has cracked down on the illegal trade, the current situation is still very bad," said Song Xinchao, deputy director of State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

The relics are not only the treasures of China, but also an important part of human civilization. China and the international society need to work together to protect the relics, Song said.

The list can be seen as a guardian in each countries' customs to identify the suspected objects, or a textbook for customs staffs to know about Chinese cultural relics, Song said.

Although the list is not involved in the recovery of cultural relics, the recovery work is continuing, Song said.

"China does not encourage purchasing the cultural objects back by the Chinese people, but chooses to recover them via laws and diplomatic methods," he said.

The Red List of Chinese Cultural Objects at Risk was edited by a group of international professionals with the help of China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage, as well as the efforts from American and Swiss agencies.

"The publishing of the Red List is a reminder to cultural relics protectors, who should think about how to avoid stealing and smuggling from the sources," said Fan Jinshi, honorary president of China's Dunhuang Academy.

China has more than 400,000 immovable cultural heritages and over 20 million pieces of movable cultural heritages, and it had signed agreements or memorandums of understanding with countries including America, Peru, Italy, the Philippines, Greece , Chile, Cyprus, Venezuela, Turkey, Ethiopia, Australia, and others, to avoid cultural heritage stealing and smuggling.

Chinese culture has been increasingly attractive to the world, which brought many more difficulties to cultural heritage protection, Anfruns said.

The release of the Red List points out a direction to reinforce the protection, he said.

Also, the list is provided on the website of ICOM and can be downloaded for free and will also be distributed to other countries' customs officials, he said.

Additionally, a German and a French version of the list will soon be published.

ICOM is an international organization of museums and professionals, with more than 28,000 members from 137 countries across the world. The ongoing 22nd council of ICOM runs from November 7 to 12 in Shanghai and is the first time the meeting has been held in China.

Source: Xinhua


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