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US Returns Smuggled Relics
Six ancient Chinese terracotta figures smuggled to the United States were returned to China by US law enforcement officials at a ceremony in the Chinese Consulate General on Tuesday.

Speaking at the ceremony, Chinese Ambassador to the United States Yang Jiechi said the return of the terracotta figures, dated to the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24), indicated that dynamic cooperation between China and the United States in law enforcement is really developing in depth and width.

He noted cooperation between law enforcement authorities of the two countries constitutes an important part of their bilateral ties, and has yielded positive results, citing the recent uncovering of a transnational drug smuggling gang.

"The crackdown of cross-border crimes is in the interest of the two countries, and cooperation between their law enforcers in greater depth and width will have positive impacts on Sino-US relations of constructive cooperation," he said.

He expressed the hope the two countries would further their cooperation in law enforcement and other fields.

Martin Ficke, special agent in charge from the Department of Home Security, New York office, described the return of ancient Chinese cultural relics as "yet another example of what cooperative law enforcement can produce."

"We will continue in the future and we look forward to continuing joint endeavors, joint investigations," he added.

The six terracotta figures were stolen in March 2002 by grave robbers from a tomb of a princess of the Western Han Dynasty in the western Chinese city of Xi'an.

The terracotta figures were slated for a Sotheby's auction the same month. Owing to the joint efforts by law enforcers of the two countries, these cultural relics were withheld from auction and returned to China.

(Xinhua News Agency June 19, 2003)

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