A grave robber's world

By Fan Junmei & Ma Yujia
0 CommentsPrint E-mail China.org.cn, May 15, 2010
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An ancient grave robber in Shandong Province is uplifted from a deep hole by the police.

A grave robber in Shandong Province is uplifted from a deep hole by the police. 

It's not rare to see a swarm of grave robbers assessing their chances at construction sites in Beijing. They observe the bulldozer while playing cards nearby. Once a coffin plank is unearthed, the watchmen will inform their collaborators and the operation will ensue.

To silence the construction workers, they'll bribe them, and if that isn't effective, there will be threats. If that also fails, a violent beat-down commences.

From stolen to legal

Grave robbers attempt to find a reliable and generous purchaser as soon as possible, and generally, the items are smuggled in 3 days.

There are two paths to transfer stolen relics. The first is to smuggle them through Guangzhou or Shenzhen. The other is to stockpile them at several distribution centers in Henan, Shanxi and Gansu for eventual transfer to Hong Kong and Taiwan, before finally being sold abroad.

According to Wu Shu, a well-known Chinese collector and author, after the stolen relics were smuggled and sold abroad, collectors purchased them and brought them back to China. This effectively made the previously stolen relics legal, because according to Chinese laws, Chinese relics returned from overseas don't need to be reviewed by customs officials, and it's legal to buy and sell them.

Embarrassed archaeologists

Huang Zuyue, an official from Ministry of Public Security, told Global People, "Huge profits have driven the cases of stealing, reselling and smuggling relics."

The statistics showed that about 200 million ancient Chinese graves were excavated illicitly in recent years. "At present China's reserve of cultural relics is nearly depleted," Wu Shu said with great anxiety.

Chinese archaeologists stand in an embarrassing position, as they have to face ridicule from their peers, because the cultural relics dug up and smuggled by the Chinese themselves nowadays is much more than those plundered by colonists in the past.

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