There are currently almost 1 million ancient Chinese artifacts on display in more than 200 overseas museums. The Chinese government has been doing everything it can to retrieve the lost cultural relics over the past few years.
However, some of these museums, including the Louvre Museum, the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, issued a joint statement last December, refusing to return such pieces to their original countries. This led to strong protests from many Chinese cultural organizations and experts.
Zhang Yongnian, director of China’s lost cultural relics recovery program says most of these priceless artifacts now in the possession of overseas museums were plundered during wars. The joint statement issued by overseas museums last year is an insult to these nations, who lost their treasures when they were invaded by aggressors.
“We want to retrieve the lost artworks, because they belong to this country and its culture. They originated in China, and China is where they should be, for ever. Their cultural value can be appreciated by the world, but they should be preserved in their home countries.”
The Chinese government announced repeatedly, that China will never end its search for the lost ancient property. A UNESCO document signed in 1995 says that cultural relics stolen in wars should be returned to their original countries.
Zhang Yongnian says all the relics which were lost through illegal or immoral ways should be returned to their rightful owners, whether they were lost during war time or not.
His idea is echoed by one of China’s well-known cultural experts Li Xueqin.
“I think we should show the world just how determined we are to regain our relics as we have lost so many throughout history. We need them to preserve our traditional culture and so future generations can marvel at their beauty. We should therefore do everything in our power to get them back.”
(Cri.com.cn January 22, 2003)