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Journeys in time 2010-5-19 National Treasures (24) -Recovering the Nation’s Treasures

05-20-2010 05:56 BJT


On December the 25th, 1993, a serious crime was committed at Zishou Temple in Shanxi Province. The heads of 18 Arhat statues were stolen. Several months later, the criminals were brought to justice. But the 18 heads had already been smuggled abroad. A year later, robbers in Hebei Province ransacked the tomb of Wang Chuzhi, a Tang Dynasty military commissioner. Six years after that, a relief carving of a warrior stolen from the tomb was put up for auction in the UK. Would China be able to retrieve the lost treasures?

A country has three principal means of recovering its cultural relics from overseas collections. It can make a claim under international conventions, purchase them, or receive them as donations. China has joined a number of international conventions concerning the protection of cultural heritage.

Like other ancient civilizations, China was particularly vulnerable to losing its cultural relics during times of war and occupation. Estimates suggest that as many as 10 million cultural relics were removed from China between 1840 and 1949; a large number of them are still housed in major public museums abroad.

The retrieval of lost relics can be a very thorny issue, involving political, economic, cultural and diplomatic considerations. Usually, years of intense effort are required, before a satisfactory outcome is achieved. China will continue to seek the return of its relics that are scattered overseas through international cooperation, and in accordance with international laws and principles.

Editor:James |Source: CNTV.CN

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