Campaign to find plundered artifacts from Beijing
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[楼主] art-pa-pa 2009-12-22 13:32:46

A Chinese team that toured the Metropolitan Museum of Art is seeking items that China lost.

China Hunts for Art Treasures
in U.S. Museums


December 17, 2009

source: The New York Times website

China’s “treasure hunting team” descended on the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York last week, and James C.Y. Watt, the patrician head of Asian art, braced for a confrontation.

For the past two weeks, the delegation of Chinese cultural experts has swept through American institutions, seeking to reclaim items once ensconced at the Old Summer Palace in Beijing, which was one of the world’s most richly appointed imperial residences until British and French troops plundered it in 1860.

With a crew from China’s national broadcaster filming the visit, the Chinese fired off questions about the provenance of objects on display, and when it came to a collection of jade pieces, they requested documentation to show that the pieces had been acquired legally.

But then, with no eureka discovery, the tension faded. The Chinese pronounced themselves satisfied, smiled for a group photo, and drove away.

“That wasn’t so bad after all,” Mr. Watt said.

Emboldened by newfound wealth, China has been on a noisy campaign to reclaim relics that disappeared during its so-called century of humiliation, the period between 1842 and 1945 when foreign powers subjugated China through military incursions and onerous treaties.

But the quest, fueled by national pride, has been quixotic, provoking fear at institutions overseas but in the end amounting to little more than a public relations show aimed at audiences back more