US returns seized ancient artifacts to China

March 12th, 2011 - 1:40 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Mar.12 (ANI): The United States has returned over a dozen ancient artifacts to China, after they were seized by law enforcement officers from illegal traffickers as part of Operation Great Wall, targeting illicit imports from China.

The two countries have been working closely to prevent illicit trafficking of archaeological objects following an agreement signed between them in 2009.

Kumar Kibble, Deputy Director US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and David Aguilar, Deputy Commissioner US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), returned the 14 artifacts to Deng Hongbo, Chinese Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission, in a ceremony held at Washington’s Smithsonian Institution.

The artifacts include a Song Dynasty Bodhisattva head, a Ming Dynasty stone frieze, a Qing Dynasty ceramic vase, terracotta, pottery and stone sculptures from Sui, Tang and Northern Qi dynasties which were seized in three separate operations in New York, Alaska and New Mexico, Xinhua reports.

Kibble said: ” The items we are returning to the People’s Republic of China today are delicate, but tangible ancient works of art that are an important part of China’s heritage,” adding that the long- term goal of the authorities was to reduce the incentive for further destruction of ancient tombs and temples.

Deng thanked the US for seizing and returning the artifacts, adding that over the years China and the US have enjoyed a ‘very good, cooperative partnership in protecting cultural heritage,’ and made significant achievements in combating illicit trafficking of cultural property.
The US has previously returned two collections of prehistoric fossils to China. (ANI)

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