Experts: Return lost artefacts to their owners

CHINA’S most distinguished relics experts are urging the return of lost artefacts, especially those illegally obtained, to their original countries.  

At a forum held on Tuesday in Beijing, they voiced their firm opposition to a joint statement issued on Dec 19 by the curators of 18 museums in Europe and the United States, including the Palais Du Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which was the first public refusal to return illegally-obtained artefacts to their original countries. 

A Chinese non-governmental organisation, which organised the forum, responded promptly with an open letter to the museums, saying that the rejection breached a pact by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and wronged the victim countries.  

The organisation, China’s Lost Cultural Relics Recovery Programme of the China Foundation for the Development of Folklore Culture, was founded on Oct 18 last year and is the country’s first civil group raising money to retrieve and rescue cultural relics. 

With the oldest aged around 90 and the youngest about 70, the elderly scholars themselves are national treasures in terms of their invaluable knowledge on cultural artefacts. 

Their ranks include Wang Shixiang, Luo Zhewen, Zheng Xiaoxie, Su Bai, Xie Chensheng, Li Xueqin and Xu Pingfang. 

“It’s absolutely not ultra-nationalism and, on the contrary, we are just protecting our rights. Culture is the spirit of a nation and relics are the purveyors of culture,” said Li Xueqin, director of the study centre on ancient culture under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. 

“Many other countries are facing similar situations, such as Egypt, India and Greece. We shall join hands with them in retrieving lost artefacts through the law instead of money, since money can only stimulate illegal relics dealing,” said Wang Shixiang, who is nearly 90 years old. – People's Daily  

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