China bans auction of stolen antiques

Beijing, Nov 3 (IANS) The Chinese government has approved a regulation that bans auctioning of cultural relics that were stolen or smuggled, officials said on Thursday.

This new regulation, laid down by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, also includes antiques confiscated by the government, those owned by government sectors and those belonging to state-owned antique shops, national companies and civilian and military museums, the China Daily reported.

The auctioning of Chinese cultural relics in recent years has troubled both the public and the government, the officials said.

The new regulation has been welcomed on China’s social media although many users have said it will not prevent these objects from being auctioned in foreign markets, where most of them end up finally.

In recent years, the number of Chinese buyers bidding for Chinese antiques at auction worldwide has increased.

Some of the items were obtained through such illegal means as archaeological poaching and illegal exporting.

In 2013, French businessman Francois-Henri Pinault returned to China the bronze heads of a rabbit and a rat that had been looted from Beijing’s Old Summer Palace by the Anglo-French forces during the Second Opium War in 1890.

Liu Shuangzhou, a professor at Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing, said that auction houses must provide auction catalogues to cultural relics departments for review and verification before sales.