France returns looted gold culture relics to China

Updated: 2015-07-15 11:12


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France returns looted gold culture relics to China

Screenshot shows the gold heads of birds of prey, which were returned to China by the French government. [Photo/CCTV]

Thirty-two gold antiquities that were stolen in the mid-1990s have been returned by the French government to China, announced China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage on Tuesday.

The batch of cultural relics includes four gold heads of birds of prey, which was looted in 1992 from an ancient tomb in a small county in Northwest China's Gansu province and then lost abroad in a wave of thefts and smuggling in the mid-1990s.

Chinese authorities spent years tracking the lost treasure and finally discovered that they were purchased by two private collectors in France and later donated to a national museum.

The relics were returned to China earlier this year after complex negotiations via diplomatic channels, said Song Xinchao, deputy head of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

Since gifts to French museums are in theory irrevocable, the return of the cultural relics proved to be difficult. At last, the collector consented to withdraw the donation to the museum and returned the treasures.

The relics come from the historic site of Mountain Da Bao Zi in Li county of Gansu province and have great value in archaeological studies on the cultures of the ancient Qin State in China's Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), said Ma Yuping, director of the cultural relics bureau in Gansu.

These returned artifacts are set to go on show to the public at an exhibition in Gansu Provincial Museum from July 20 to Oct 31.