China condemns UK auction of relic suspected of being stolen from China
China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage said on Tuesday that it strongly opposes and condemns the UK auction of a cultural relic suspected of having been illegally obtained from the country.
The government agency made the remarks about a Chinese bronze vessel, known as the Bronze Tiger Ying, which is scheduled for auction on Wednesday by Britain's Canterbury Auction Galleries. The vessel is suspected of having been looted from Yuanmingyuan, or the Old Summer Palace, in Beijing during the Second Opium War (1856-1860).
The SACH said in a statement that it had contacted the auction house through various channels, demanding the cancellation of the auction and telling the auction house to "abide by the spirit of international agreements and code of professional ethics, as well as respect the cultural rights and national feelings of the Chinese people."
"The Canterbury Auction Galleries said on Monday in clear terms that it would not cancel the auction," said the SACH in the statement.
Respecting the cultural heritage of all countries and facilitating the return of missing relics to the countries to which they belong is the consensus of the international community and has always been the stance of the Chinese government, the SACH reiterated, noting that it strongly opposes and condemns the auction and the auction house's use of the stolen item for commercial hype.
The Chinese agency said it disapproves of participation by Chinese organizations and individuals in the auction and called on friends from the international community to stand together out of a humanistic spirit against the auction of the looted relic.
The SACH said it will follow the development of the matter and will continue to take all necessary measures to retrieve cultural relics illegally obtained from China in accordance with relevant international agreements and China's laws.