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The value of a soul is counted in bank notes

(China Daily)

09:11, September 13, 2011

All of a sudden, it seems academic freedom has become a justification for the malfeasance of cultural relics experts.

Along with four other experts, Yang Boda, former deputy curator of the Palace Museum in Beijing, determined that two items of jade clothing sewn with gold threads were authentic antiques and slapped a price tag of 2.4 billion yuan ($376 million) on them.

The two items were later found to be fakes.

Were these experts inadequate in talent and learning? Or were they blinded by their lust for money?

The response from some of these experts was unbelievable. They defended their appraisal of the fake antiques as a form of academic freedom.

In fact these experts did not touch the jade clothes when determining their authenticity. They appraised them while walking around glass-box exhibits, instead of making a close-up check.

It is an open secret that the nation's many antique connoisseurs get a percentage of the appraisal price of relics as a commission, so it is no wonder that antique connoisseurs are happy to confirm the relics are real and make the prices high.

Trading their expertise for money, these experts serve as a cat's paw for those who produce fake antiques.

Clearly the malfeasance of the five experts in cultural relics has tainted those who are assigned to take care of the nation's cultural and historical relics. These people were supposed to be of good moral standing and undisputed reputation.

It is little wonder that in recent years cheating has been rampant in almost every sector of the country when those who are supposed to set an example lack moral character and the ability to act appropriately.

There are numerous examples of such a lack of ethics, from toxins added to food, corrupt officials abusing power and the brutal killing of accident victims, all of which are done in the name of making or saving a buck.

Clearly economic growth is no guarantee of ethics. But certain things can never be right in any place at any time. There are rules of morality.

The government needs to make strenuous efforts to restore and promote moral values. China cannot hope to have a vigorous society when it turns a blind eye to the moral crisis the country faces.

At a time when the value of a soul can be counted in bank notes, a public commitment to ethics is important as it communicates the vision and direction of a nation and is the foundation for a healthy society.


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