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China Vows to Retrieve More Stolen Cultural Relics

An official with the State Administration of Cultural Heritage vowed Monday that China will continue to retrieve more stolen cultural relics using related international regulations.

Qu Shengrui, director of the Division for Regulation of Traffic in Cultural Heritage in the administration, made the remarks when announcing the identification result of a marble wall panel stolen from an ancient tomb in Northern China, which was returned by U.S. Customs last Wednesday. Qu said that it was a wonderful example of international cooperation and it "manifests that the Chinese government is determined to protect its cultural relics."

China has joined several international conventions since the 1980s in a bid to banish the illegal exportation of cultural properties and for the return of stolen cultural relics.

The object recently returned was stolen in 1994 from Wang's tomb in Quyang County of Hebei Province. In March 2000, it was advertised for sale at auction by Christie's in New York on consignment from a Hong Kong company at a price of between 400,000 and 500,000 U.S. dollars.

U.S. Customs agents seized the panel on March 28, 2001, before it went on the auction block. A week earlier, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York ruled that the ancient relic should be repatriated to China.

Qu said that China's efforts to retrieve culture properties have brought back another sculpture stolen from the same site.

Robert H. Ellsworth, an American collector, sent his own collection back to China last June when he discovered the origin of the object. Qu was upbeat about the future of taking more smuggled culture relics back to their place of origin. "As long as cultural heritage groups, police and customs work well together," he said.

However, he admitted that due to the inadequate documentation of Chinese cultural relics, the country still has a long way to go to retrieve lost treasures.

-- source: xinhuanet

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