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Overseas Cultural Relics Have a Hard Road Back to China
   2014-09-22 20:12:29    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Cao Yuwei

The Chinese government is calling for more international cooperation into the return of illegally exported cultural relics from China.

 

Director General of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, Li Xiaojie, says they're looking at three key ways of trying to regain overseas cultural relics.

"Firstly, through diplomatic channels; secondly, through the judicial process; and thirdly, through civic appeals. As long as the relics are from China, it is legitimate for any civic organization or individual to claim it back from local governments."

China already has bilateral agreements with 18 different countries to prevent the illicit trafficking of cultural relics.

The agreements to prevent the illicit trafficking of cultural relics is based on the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property.

However, high commissioner of the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law, Maria Schneider, says the convention doesn't cover cultural relics stolen or lost before the 1970 convention took effect.

"Of course, many objects are out of the country. But you have to make a difference between those whent out after the time CHina ratified after the UNESCO convention, the 1970 convention."

The US, Italy, Switzerland and Greece have all signed agreements with China.

But Japan, which is thought to be home to the majority of China's lost cultural relics, is not among the 18 countries.

According to The list of Chinese Cultural Heritages Brought into Japan after the Sino-Japanese War published in 2012, Japan is home to over 15-thousand Chinese cultural heritage items.

Professor Wang Yunxia with the School of Law at Renmin University says negotiations and dialogue can help find a way to resolve this issue.

"We should make use of the international atmosphere, through various diplomatic channels, and help to bring about dialogue between governments, just like South Korea did. On specific cases of important relics, the return is sometimes negotiable. "

South Korea is also actively looking to reclaim cultural heritage items from Japan.

Civilian groups from South Korea have been active for close to the past decade, with the assistance of the South Korean government, in demanding the return of 15th-century artifacts stolen by the then-Japanese government in 1905.

For CRI, I'm Cao Yuwei.

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