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US returns 361 pieces (sets) of cultural relics, artifacts to China

By Zheng Qi (People's Daily)    10:14, March 04, 2019

The photo shows the ornamental stone slab of Ming Dynasty returned to China by the US in 2011. It was the first time for the US to repatriate cultural relics to China (Photo by Ma Xiaoning/People’s Daily)

361 pieces (sets) of cultural relics and artifacts were returned to China by the US at a repatriation ceremony held in Indianapolis on Feb.28, local time. At the ceremony, representatives from China’s National Cultural Heritage Administration (SACH) and US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) signed and exchanged certificate of transfer.

These cultural relics and artifacts, mainly funerary objects, include stoneware, jade, bronze ware, potteries, coins and wood carvings. They date from the Neolithic Age (3900-1700BC) to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). More than 20 pieces (sets) of cultural relics and artifacts were exhibited at the ceremony.

These repatriated relics and artifacts were found by the FBI's Indianapolis office in April 2014. It aroused highly attention from the SACH. According to relevant international conventions, the SACH requested the US side to return these cultural relics and artifacts.

Finally, the US agreed the request under the joint efforts of the US Department of State, FBI, SACH, Chinese embassies and consul-generals in the US.

It is the third-time such effort made by the two countries, and by far the largest repatriation of cultural relics from the US to China. It showcased cooperation outcomes between the law enforcement departments of the two countries.

The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to restrict importation of Chinese relics to the US in Jan, 2009. Two years later, 14 pieces of cultural relics captured in 2010 were returned to China for the first time by the US Department of Homeland Security, the majority of which have a history of 1500 to 2000 years.In Jan, 2019, China and the US re-signed the MOU.

The SACH has brought back more than 4,000 pieces (sets) of lost Chinese cultural relics in over 30 batches through diplomatic and legislative cooperation, as well as friendly consultation over the years, including the bronze animal heads of the Old Summer Palace, the golden ornaments of Dabaozi Mountain, the bronze tiger Ying and those returned by the US government in the previous three repatriations. 


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