April 14, 2005

Chinese fund for the return of national treasures

Posted at 3:35 pm in Similar cases

Following on from the previous article by China Radio International here is some more information about Zhang Yongnian’s attempts to get Chinese cultural treasures returned.

China Radio International

Fund to Get National Treasures Back
2005-4-13 14:14:48

China has lost more than one million cultural relics through warfare over the past century or so. From the Opium War in 1840 to the founding of the new China in 1949, countless treasures have been stolen.

China has lost more than one million cultural relics through warfare over the past century or so.

From the Opium War in 1840 to the founding of the new China in 1949, countless treasures have been stolen.

Most of the items are preserved in foreign museums.

A special fund in China has been set up in an attempt to get those treasures back. CRI reporter Xiaoyu has the details.

Museums all over the world preserve over one million Chinese cultural relics and national treasures.

A great part of which were obtained through illegal or immoral ways during a century’s wartime in history.

A special fund to rescue Chinese cultural relics from abroad was launched recently in the hopes of getting foreign museums to return those relics.

Director of the fund Zhang Yongnian explains their targets.

“The cultural relics we’ll ask them to return are those transferred out of China through illegal ways during the period from 1840 to 1949, the Opium War to the founding of the People’s Republic of China. We made the plan according to UN Conventions on Stolen and Illegally Exported Cultural Objects to return them to their original sites so that their historic and artistic value can be best presented.”

However getting the relics back on Chinese soil is not going to be easy.

Zhang Yongnian gives an example of the Greek government, who during the past 170 years, have been asking the British Museum to return sculptures stolen from the Parthenon, but still haven’t succeeded.

Moreover, eighteen major museums and research institutes of Europe and America, including the British Museum and the Louvre Museum, signed a Declaration in December 2002 on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums.

It opposes returning art works, especially ancient ones, to their original owners.

Zhang Yongnian says China faces a tough road ahead to get the relices back.

“We know that the task will be very difficult to complete. Some of the relics are related to some complicated issues left over by history. And some of the countries have written laws claiming all items exhibited in their museums are national treasures. Therefore if we want to get them back, a legislative process is needed. In addition, we think better communications, mutual understanding and cooperation are also important to get those relics back home.”

If conditions permit, Zhang Yongnian said they could try to exchange some cultural relics with the foreign museums as compensation.

As a non-governmental organization, Zhang Yongnian said the establishment of the fund is to raise the awareness of the Chinese nation on their lost treasures.

Currently, cultural relics coming back to China are mostly gifts by other countries or purchases by Chinese civilians.

Zhang Yongnian said they would soon reveal the first national treasure they were going to demand return.

Xiaoyu, CRI News.

Chinese fund for the return of national treasures, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Possibly related articles

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URL

Leave a Comment

We want to hear your views. Be as critical or controversial as you like, but please don't get personal or offensive. Remember this is for feedback and constructive discussion!
Comments may be edited or removed if they do not meet these guidelines. Repeat offenders will be blocked from posting further comments. Any comment deemed libellous by Elginism's editors will be removed.
The commenting system uses some automatic spam detection and occasionally comments do not appear instantly - please do not repost comments if they do not show up straight away