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Feb 23

Paris court rejects China’s Saint Laurent art claims

Written by Allen on Monday, February 23rd, 2009 at 8:23 pm
Filed under:-mini-posts, Analysis, culture, News, politics | Tags:,
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A few threads ago, we discussed the topic of who owns the Chinese imperial arts in the context of Taiwan vis-a-vis the Mainland.

Well – it may be timely to also discuss who should own the Chinese imperial arts in the context of China vis-a-vis great collections of art in the West looted from China during her century of shame.

Here is an article from Reuter about a Paris court’s rejection of China’s claims to stop the the auctioning of two sculptures, representing the head of a rat and the head of a rabbit, that were taken from the Summer Palace in Beijing when it was burned down by invading French and British forces in 1860 during the Second Opium War.

PARIS (Reuters) – A Paris court rejected a bid to block the sale of two bronze sculptures claimed by China that are to be auctioned with the art collection of the late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, a court official said on Monday.

APACE, an association representing Chinese cultural and heritage interests, filed an appeal to have the sale blocked but the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris rejected it, an official at the Paris court told Reuters.

The court also ordered APACE to pay auctioneer’s Christie’s and Pierre Berge, Saint Laurent’s former business manager and companion, 1,000 euros ($1,274) in costs each.

The two sculptures, representing the head of a rat and the head of a rabbit, were taken from the Summer Palace in Beijing when it was burned down by invading French and British forces in 1860 during the Second Opium War.

They were acquired by Saint Laurent and Berge as they built up what has been called one of the most important collections of art in private hands, but Chinese officials have said the sculptures rightfully belong to China and should be returned.

After Saint Laurent’s death last year, Berge decided to sell the collection, which is estimated to be worth up to $300 million, and donate the proceeds to medical research.

Before the ruling, he had expressed confidence that the appeal to block the sale would be rejected, telling Reuters that he was “completely protected by the law.”

Interest in the case went beyond the art world because of tensions between Paris and Beijing over French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to meet the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing considers a separatist.

Berge had offered to hand over the sculptures, valued at 8-10 million euros each, if China agreed to guarantee human rights and allow the Dalai Lama back into Tibet. The Dalai Lama says he only wants greater autonomy for the region.

Ignoring the politic gambits mentioned at the bottom of the article, I personally am torn by claims such as these.

On the one hand, but for the Western invasion, looting and unequal treaties, these prized heritage of Chinese culture would still be in China.  So these art should go back to China (Of course, one might argue that given the warfare and turmoil China would subsequently suffer, it was probably best that these art were looted out of the country… ).

On the other hand, asking categorically people who possess these art today to turn over the art (for free) to the Chinese government may not be the most fair solution since the people who own these arts today probably had paid real money for these arts.  That is, the people who own these looted arts are not the original looters (or inheritors of the original looters) – so why should they – who had (presumptively) bought these art fair and square – give up these art?

What do people think is the most just solution about the art that have been looted out of China and that exist in the great museums and great private collections around the world today?

Must Chinese compatriots be forced to spend millions to buy back looted treasures?

My quirky personal solution: Internationalize all great art wherever they are (this would include also art like the mona lisa in the louvre) – and start promoting all great art as World Heritage – open and belonging to ALL humanity – not just belonging to any one nation (or perhaps even civilization)…  Have all great museums around the world become subsidiaries of a great UN museum of Arts for all Humanity…


There are currently 10 comments highlighted: 29902, 29919, 29922, 29924, 29929, 29935, 29960, 29979, 30125, 30379.

297 Responses to “Paris court rejects China’s Saint Laurent art claims”

  1. TonyP4 Says:

    The following has been posted in a similar topic as Allen mentioned. I tone it down here. I do not like the result of the current ruling from Paris.

    —–

    It sets up a precedent to all future sales of Chinese treasures esp. those treasures that had been looted during the Opium War, so it could be important. Had these treasures if not looted been destroyed during Cultural Revolution is another topic.

    ——

    First some history.
    The Britain’s evil parliament approved to send warships to enforce the opium trade to China. What do you call a country pushing opium?

    It is about 150 years ago, but it seems it is forgotten outside China.

    The settlement asked China to compensate all the opium burned by the Chinese and army expenses, open the seaports for opium trade, release the Chinese prisoners who helped the British, cede Hong Kong…

    Imagine Cambodia asks US to pay for the opium burned during US raids and their army expenses, open more seaports for opium trade, release all the traitors who helped Cambodia during the war, and cede Hawaii to Cambodia. How outrageous?

    Cambodia can be replaced by another opium export country.

    The alliance of foreign countries burned China’s summer palace, looted all the treasures (most are done by over 3,000 Franco-British soldiers and took 3 days/nights to burn it down)… Imagine foreigners loot all the treasures from Buckingham Palace and burn it down.

    The common excuse from the west is the rebellion against the west. As some one said in the blog, they’re patriots or rebels. How outrageous to open opium trades by using force in the first place.

    All European foreigners to Beijing should be informed of the ruin so we can learn not to repeat from history. You do not see many foreigners in the ruin. Same as few Japanese tourists in the Pearl Harbor Memorial.

    All the museums in Europe should classify whether the Chinese treasures are loots and posted the info if necessary. I like to know the percentage of the Chinese treasures are loots.

    If it is stolen, it should be returned to the owner. From stolen jewelry from your house to mummy from Egypt.

    No matter how many times it is legally traded and as long as it is stolen it is still loot.

    More info.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_war
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Summer_Palace#Destruction_of_the_Summer_Palace

  2. Jed Yoong Says:

    Why should we pay thieves to get back what they stole?
    And if ppl go around buying stolen goods, well, tough luck!
    They should know better!

  3. Steve Says:

    @ Jed Yoong: Hi Jed~ I guess after it’s been passed through a few hands, it’s hard to get the goods back without paying for them. Western museums have budgets to buy artifacts for themselves so maybe China can purchase some of them and get them back to where they belong. In the perfect world, you are absolutely correct, but this world isn’t so perfect. 🙁

  4. huaren Says:

    1. The French is not capable of seeing how immoral of holding onto these cultural relics stolen from China is – with the Opium War being the back-drop – meant that they have failed a simple morality test.

    I believe world opinion matters to a country.

    2. This remains an issue easy to beat up on the French whenever the Chinese government wants to.

    I am waiting for the likes of Ang Lee or Zhang Yimou to make a movie about this looting that is easy to digest for the West.

    Challenging this auction is a great move. I hope the rest of the world follow suit to stop these shameless legitimizations of theft.

  5. Steve Says:

    @ huaren #4: That’s a great idea. I’d go see a movie about that time period. It could be a very nice historical epic. I don’t think many outside China really know that much about the Opium Wars. My worry with movies is that they tend to twist the story for dramatic effect so people don’t get the true picture. I think I’d like to see Ang Lee do it; he has a good understanding of both cultures so could ‘bridge the gap’ and make it appealing to the entire world.

  6. Allen Says:

    @Steve #3,

    One problem with having to “buy back” the arts is that it would distort the prices.

    Suppose I am an auctioneer and know 99% confidence that the Chinese gov’t or some rich Chinese compatriot really want some piece of art back. I can hire strawman to bid the price up knowing that the Chinese gov’t or Chinese compatriot will outbid that bid. If I fail, I don’t lose anything – except the opportunity to make a sale. If I succeed, I make mega bucks of money.

    Of course, if I only know with 50% confidence, the math becomes different, but you get the point.

    If the Chinese have to buy back looted art, not only would they have to pay for the looted artifacts, but they have to pay a very high premium…

  7. Charles Liu Says:

    Well, I don’t have problem, actually quite impressed, with the fact some wealthy Chinese have been able to spend millions to acquire looted treasure and place them back on display in China. I’ve read somewhere the two Yuanmingyuan fountain heads were purchased by Chinese collectors. Hope one day the fountain can be put back together.

    It’s probably more realistic to acquiesce to the reality of long term possession, looted or not. Perhaps, not unlike the question of displaying China’s national treasures at the PRC Palace Museum or ROC National Museum, the question of who owns relics is not as important as if the Chinese will have a chance to see it (maybe on an exchange program as well?)

    Also, realistically we can see it is a bag of history the ex-colonials don’t want to open. Where does it stop once the precedence is set? Should the temple of Athena be returned and pieced back together the way the Greek government demanded?

    It’s a can of worm better left unopened. As others have mentioned, the world is shrinking at an incredible pace, and these issues would serve us better if resolved in a way that transcends the nation state struggles of the past.

  8. Leo Says:

    @ Charles Liu,

    ——————————————————-
    As others have mentioned, the world is shrinking at an incredible pace, and these issues would serve us better if resolved in a way that transcends the nation state struggles of the past.
    ——————————————————-

    This is a capitalist world. The artefacts lure tourists and tourist money. London, Paris, and NYC, where these wonderful museums are located, are very expensive places charging horrendous prices, let alone the fact that they deny the entry visas to most peoples of the poor nations.

    This world is shrinking in a way that it has become more accessible to the rich people. A rich person can have a breakfast in London, a work day in NYC, a weekend for Safari in Kenya, then back to Paris to enjoy the nightlife of Sunday evening. But for the majority of the world population, the world is as inaccessible as ever. China is one of the very few countries that see a sea change of wealth, which is more an exception than the norm.

  9. Ted Says:

    @Allen #6: I spent about 4 years at Christie’s competitor and I can at least say that within the company it wouldn’t work like that (hiring a straw man). Besides the seller sets the limit. You may be right in that the lawsuit has just raised the price for Chinese works across the board. At the same time that should be expected with China’s increased wealth. Wish I could read French, I’d like to know more about the arguments presented.

  10. Charles Liu Says:

    Ted, I think even the Chinese media (as well as the firm that brought the suit) has recognized the suit has little chance of succeeding:

    http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0220/p07s04-woap.html

    – The Unidroit Convention is not retroactive
    – France has not ratified it

  11. S.K. Cheung Says:

    In hindsight, China may have been better off to not challenge the auction in the first place. Though she may have had a moral claim on the pieces, I wouldn’t have thought she had a legal one. She could’ve hired a middleman and bid anonymously for these items. But now the precedent’s been set that she doesn’t have a legal claim, which will inform all future rulings on the matter. And now everyone knows that China will want these pieces, so the prices have definitely gone up.

  12. Ted Says:

    @Charles: France is particularly conservative on these matters. They only recently opened up to the international auctions houses.

  13. huaren Says:

    @Steve, #5

    “I don’t think many outside China really know that much about the Opium Wars.”

    I think that is so true. The West had an opportunity to tell the Opium War during the 1997 Hong Kong hand-over. But they made it to be all about “democracy” in Hong Kong soon to be squashed by the PLA waiting to enter at the border.

    @ Charles Liu, #7

    My general issue is nations not owning up to history. If a country is super strong and decides to do whatever it wants to another country, knowing that time will wipe out its sins, then it is basically international lawlessness.

    “Also, realistically we can see it is a bag of history the ex-colonials don’t want to open. Where does it stop once the precedence is set? Should the temple of Athena be returned and pieced back together the way the Greek government demanded?”

    I agree with you making this issue “right” is a bag of worms and the ex-colonials don’t want to open. There are probably also tons of instances where the dispute is not clear-cut. For example, German artifacts lost to the Allies during WWII. Hitler tried to take over the world and got his butt kicked eventually. Should the lost German artifacts return to Germany now?

    What about artifacts sold by local grave robbers to foreigners?

    For me, the clear-cut cases must have justice.

    Modern day, it is practical to move even the Temple of Athena back to Greece, no?

    Btw, this case with the French – think of this way:

    A burglar comes to your house, rapes your sister, kills your grandmother, and takes your family heirlom. You won’t fight for the return of the heirlom taken under such disgusting circumstances?

  14. huaren Says:

    @SKC, #11

    LOL. You scum bag. This is so clear cut where the morally right thing to do is for the French. How come your “human rights” activitist types cannot get these morality stance correct?! You are killing me.

    I think every time China has an opportunity to remind the world about the French and the Brits of the Opium War, the better it serves the interest of the rest of the world – whatever it is.

    The French lost an opportunity to right their wrongs.

  15. ecodelta Says:

    @huaren
    “. If a country is super strong and decides to do whatever it wants to another country, knowing that time will wipe out its sins, then it is basically international lawlessness.”

    Curious, TiBt issue just sprung again in my mind….

    “A burglar comes to your house, rapes your sister, kills your grandmother, and takes your family heirlom. You won’t fight for the return of the heirlom taken under such disgusting circumstances?”
    The burglar committed the crime 150 years ago, the current owner has no connection to that burglar whatsoever. Probably acquired the items from another owner, who acquired from another owner, etc. All in compliance with the law. Even war booty was considered lawful in the past…. On the other hand, the right owner, the emperor or imperial government, does not longer exist.
    The current government of the country of the looted items suddenly starts to show great interest to recover items from a past that, no so long ago despised, and was even bent to destroy….

    How things change…. I really hope for the better 😉

    Maybe more was destroyed during the dark CCP era (and even during some imperial periods) than during any western invasions of China.
    About HK, well.. the British seems to be great real state developers…. and at the end of the…. concession… they country got back one of the main financial centers in Asia…. for free 😉
    Not a bad move at all for China.

    From the point of international law, Chinese government does not have a chance. Morally maybe they have a case, but as some readers have pointed out, it may have made more difficult now to recover those artifacts or any other of similar origin, or prevent others to surface publicly at all.

    A different approach should have been attempted. Maybe a timely and discrete contact with Mr YSL could have get better results.

    Hhhhmmm…. just been conspirational for a moment…Was China’s government really trying to get those items back or just putting forth a nationalistic stunt for local consumption?

  16. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Huaren:
    you are a retarded moron who can’t read. I said China has a moral claim, but not a legal one. Now, before you wet your pants on what the French morally should and shouldn’t do, you could also gaze longingly into the mirror to see what China morally should and shouldn’t do in other spheres.

    China can remind the world of whatever she wants, and will need some luck to find someone who cares about that sort of thing. Oh, but I forgot, you’d make a fine, if useless, audience.

  17. huaren Says:

    @SKC, #16

    LOL. You are killing me. I know you said that. You already wet your pants couldn’t wait jumping onto the legal case argument. 🙂

    I rest my case.

    LOL. You are seriously killing me!

  18. Leo Says:

    @ ecodelta 15,
    ——————————————————————————–
    Curious, TiBt issue just sprung again in my mind….
    ————————————————————————————–

    Tibet is not a souvereign country. No foreign governments that ever came into contact with Chinese government have ever recognized Tibet to be independent. Even during Tibet’s de-factor independent era, British, American, and Soviet governments assured first the RoC, then PRC government that Tibet was and is a part of China.

    —————————————————————————————————–
    About HK, well.. the British seems to be great real state developers…. and at the end of the…. concession… they country got back one of the main financial centers in Asia…. for free
    —————————————————————————————————————–

    HK was always a cash cow for the British govt. Brits were basically ready to suck all the money away before their departure. China had a diplomatic war with Britain over this issue and forced London to establish a Land Sale Funds to secure the post-handover government pocket.

    ———————————————————————————————————————–
    Hhhhmmm…. just been conspirational for a moment…Was China’s government really trying to get those items back or just putting forth a nationalistic stunt for local consumption?
    —————————————————————————————————–

    Actually it was started by a oversea Chinese citizen initiative. Chinese govt. was virtually forced by this circumstance to make a formal protest. I think originally Chinese govt. was ready to pay for the heads.

  19. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Huaren:
    the sign of a real retard (well, one of many, I suppose) is the inability to come up with something original, and to have to stoop to the level of copying someone’s else insult, and repeating it back at them.

    And the winner this evening of that rather dubious distinction is…..well, you guessed it, doof.

  20. Allen Says:

    @ecodelta #15,

    I guess you are comparing CCP’s governance of Tibet to: “A burglar comes to your house, rapes your sister, kills your grandmother, and takes your family heirlom. You won’t fight for the return of the heirlom taken under such disgusting circumstances?”

    Well … even for people sympathize with Free Tibeters … when they make such baseless assertions … it only serves to drive the gulf wider – not narrow it.

    Hope you are proud…

    Good job.

  21. a bystander Says:

    SKC, huaren is kicking your butt. Time to use a different username?

  22. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Bystander:
    “Time to use a different username?” – huh? Is that how you people roll? Kids these days….

  23. AndyR Says:

    Does it change anything that the fountain which these heads came from was designed by a Jesuit Missionary for the Kangxi emperor, and that the heads themselves are thought to be designed by Giuseppe Castiglione? The irony knows no bounds on this. Lecture on history all you want, but these were symbols of China’s (or at least the emperor’s) friendly acceptance of foreign influence before they became symbols of violent colonialism. Since the designs are of Western derivation, why make a stink that the West stole a Chinese “cultural” artifact…Chinese symbolism, yes, but Chinese design, sorry not so much. You can complain of Westerners not knowing history, but perhaps there is history overlooked by both sides of the debate. Isn’t the history of the objects in question as important as the events that surrounded them? Anyway, interested to hear everyone’s thoughts…

    http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_details.aspx?from=searchresults&intObjectID=5157530&sid=83e7b932-6ba6-49c1-9862-90186654e14a

    14-15th paragraph in for the detail, but the whole article is pretty interesting…
    (PS Thanks to JH a commenter at the Granite Studio blog for the clue on this historical thread)

  24. Charles Liu Says:

    Ecodelta @ 15, per other’s comment it appears Tibet may have a moral claim, but not a legal one. So China can keep Tibet free and clear right?

    I agree with huaren the moral archetype for some seems rather selective, or, duplicitus.

    As to relics being destroyed during Cultural Revolution, I don’t recall the Palace Museum being touched by the Red Guards.

    AndyR, the Mona Lisa is Italian, but hangs out at the Louver these days. There’s no dispute who, when and where these fountain heads were looted from.

  25. AndyR Says:

    @Charles

    Apparently at the end of the article it makes clear that the bronze statues from whence these heads came had already been dismantled, and the bronze head locked away in storage somewhere, before the looting took place, so at the time they weren’t even on display but locked away collecting dust. Anyway, looting is looting you are right, but I think this history exposes the complication of how to define “cultural” ownership which is one of China’s big claims…these statues by virtue of their origin are as much a part of Western history/culture as they are Chinese, no matter how either party wants to simplify things for nationalist posturing purposes today.

  26. TonyP4 Says:

    Hi folks, good discussion. I started the first comment and did not see much interest, but now a lot. Name calling is fun but let’s keep it to minimum – otherwise we would look like a bunch of the barbarians 150 years ago from the west. 🙂

    The auction is intended for AIDS research. I suggest to give the part of the auction to a Chinese university on same cause, preferably in Beijing.

    I like Huaren’s idea (#4) on making a movie and Steve’s recommendation (#5) of using Ang Lee and Allen’s money (a rich lawyer, haha), as it is more important for EU folks to watch. I believe there is at least one less-known movie about this incident. I am too emotional to watch but less compared to Nanjing massacre.

    @Leo. The Chinese government is rich, but the wealth is not distributed to its citizens. You’re half right.

    @S.K. Cheung. You’re 110% right that it is a moral victory but not feasible to stop the auction. All the lawyers here can tell you that. I just want to raise the awareness of the beginning part of our bad history (late Qing to end of Mao). A lot of lawyers donate their services free for China on this incident, so I have a higher respect on the legal profession. 🙂

    @ecodelta. #15. You’re right except the wealth of Hong Kong. Brits tried to suck up as much from Hong Kong as possible as Leo pointed out.

    There are many big projects including the new airport that had to be paid for after the take-over. Who benefited from these big projects? You guess it right. It is similar to colonial days.

    The wealth of HK is due to its special location as a door to China. With SH and Beijing, that door is not that important now.

    It is very misleading as most EU folks told me the same and I’m tired of explaining the truth to them.

    Would any one like to post some pictures on the ruins. The movie Soong’s sisters has several scenes on the old summer palace.

  27. TonyP4 Says:

    Forgot to mention. I just created a blog, http://tonyp4joke.blogspot.com/ to collect jokes/satires mainly. You can click the above or just TonyP4 on any of my comments.

    I’ve included jokes from Ted, Steve and HKer. Thanks! If you do not like your jokes to be distributed, just let me know. Laughter is the best medicine, esp. in this bad economy. Sorry for being off the topic.

  28. Steve Says:

    @ Charles Liu # 24: Hi Charles, your comment about the Palace Museum made me curious. The best explanation I was able to find showed that it was awfully close to a catastrophe but managed to survive with only some damage. Many of the CR leaders stole artifacts from the museum during this time. Zhou Enlai was also a key figure in preventing the complete destruction of the museum. This summation was in the Chinese Heritage Newsletter website.

    I consider the Mona Lisa a legitimate French painting since it was finished in France and originally purchased by the French king, in contrast to the Chinese artwork being auctioned off by YSL’s heirs.

    How many generations need to pass before an owner has a legitimate title? If it’s endless, that would throw the art market into turmoil since most pieces have been stolen at one time or another over their history. I think they are wary of setting a precedent.

  29. Steve Says:

    @ Allen #6: I agree with Ted. If the premier auction houses used a “ringer” to bid the prices up, they’d lose their prestigeous reputations overnight. Museums all over the world bid for artwork so having the Palace Museum also bid would not be unusual in the least. With the Bank of China behind them, they could get whatever pieces they desired. That’s probably the most realistic way to get the collection back together.

    It also brings up another question in my mind. Were the Qing a foreign dynasty after all? For hundreds of years, the Chinese said they were. If that is the case, then they had stolen the treasures from the Chinese people in the first place but in another sense, the treasures were still on Chinese soil. However, if a foreign dynasty commissions artwork for its palace, is that artwork Chinese or Manchurian? And since Manchuria is NOW part of China, does that make the pieces Chinese or Manchurian? Its all very complicated.

  30. huaren Says:

    @AndyR, #23

    Who was Giuseppe Castiglione employed by to help make the fountains? So, you are saying that justifying the looting? How did you conclude these animals were designed by Castiglione? Not the Lei family or the hundreds of Chinese artists working for the Emperor?

    You will kill me too when you start making all these self-righteous “human rights” attacks against other people. For my sake, don’t do it ok? Then at least I won’t call you “duplicitus” (a fancy word I just learned from Charles Liu,#24).

    @SKC, #22

    LOL. Yeah, I always wondered. “S. K. Cheung” – are you Chinese Canadian? Are you French Canadian? I some time think you and “Raj” may be the same person.

  31. TonyP4 Says:

    @Steve #29.
    “Were the Qing a foreign dynasty after all? ”

    Good point. I consider Manchurians, Mongolians (Yuen Dynasty), Tibetans… part of 56 or so minorities. We did put the Great Wall to keep these ‘barbarians’ out? From history, they’re part of China to me. We let the Manchurians in without real fighting and we let the west in via the ocean. Most minorities (Tibetans are exception due to the remote location) assimilate into Han pretty well.

    Manchurians used Chinese systems and brought their own traditions/cultures. They had at least 2 good emperors. With the lady behind the ruling, it was a mess. 🙂

    I just put a semi naked picture in my blog.

  32. Allen Says:

    @AndyR – there is no real dispute that the artifacts in question were looted (not taken from storage). People try to raise the silliest arguments in briefs.

    Here is a link to a sketch documenting the looting showing an intact fountain. There are other even more reliable documents – but not readily available online (by my search).

  33. Allen Says:

    @Steve #29 –

    Now you are asking what it means to be Chinese. We had some threads on it – and will undoubtedly have more in the future!

    But please revisit this comment of mine in the Taiwan Palace Museum thread.

    If you really want to subdivide – you can simply just say the owner of the treasure is the legal owner. Period. NO one else can claim a right!

    Or perhaps we should take the high road – as I suggested in the original post – and see everything as a heritage of humankind.

  34. Steve Says:

    I found this quote from Victor Hugo shortly after the looting of the Original Summer Palace: In his “Expédition de Chine”, Hugo described the looting as, “‘Two robbers breaking into a museum, devastating, looting and burning, leaving laughing hand-in-hand with their bags full of treasures; one of the robbers is called France and the other Britain.” In his letter Hugo hoped that one day France would feel guilty and return what it had plundered from China.

    @ Allen: One small change I’d make to your post: the art isn’t in the “West”, it’s in France and England. The “West” didn’t ransack the Original Summer Palace, it was ransacked at first by the French and soon after by the English and some local Chinese. As an example, I don’t think the “East” attacked Pearl Harbor, Japan did. I don’t like all this “West” stuff; it’s too general a term and people use it to blame innocent countries for acts in which they did not participate.

  35. Steve Says:

    @ Allen #33: I brought that up because it seems that certain peoples who are now considered Chinese weren’t considered Chinese a hundred years ago. I have no problem with that. I think if you feel you are Chinese, then you are Chinese. If I met a person in Harbin who told me he was Chinese, that’s good enough for me though 100 years ago he’d have said he was Manchurian.

    When we married, I asked my wife if she was registered to vote. She said that no, she wasn’t because she wasn’t really an “American”. I told her that since she bought into the ideas of America and became an American citizen, then she was as American as I was. That’s when she registered and voted for the first time, and she’s never missed a vote since then. I believe you are who you think you are.

    Actually, at this time the owner of the treasure IS the legal owner, but if said owner was magnanimous he’d donate some or all of the collection to China as a gift, or offer it to them for a reasonable price independent of a bid, to cover his investment in the artifacts. I think China would be open to that, but instead he tied it into the Tibetan political situation which of course is unacceptable to the CCP.

    In a way, the treasures of the world are for the benefit of humankind, since we are all essentially the same. But practically it is impossible, for how can you have one world government when each country wants a government with their own “characteristics”? Muslims would insist on Sharia, democracies on democracy, party dictatorships on party dictatorship, monarchies on monarchy with themselves as the monarchs, and each would want varying degrees of autonomy. Even the thirteen colonies found it close to impossible to agree on the form of government; multiply that by a million for the degree of difficulty in forming a world government. How many countries would insist on veto power? Nothing would ever get passed. And I am NOT going to sing “God Save The Queen” unless it’s the Sex Pistols version. 😛

  36. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Charles #24:
    “it appears Tibet may have a moral claim, but not a legal one. So China can keep Tibet free and clear right?” – so then 2 busts are the equivalent of all the land of the TAR, and all the people who inhabit it? The moral parallel falls down because the pieces of art can’t express to whom they would rather belong, whereas Tibetans can (well, they probably would have the physical capacity to, except no one around here seems to see the moral need to allow them to do so.)

  37. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Huaren #30:
    I’m Canadian of Chinese descent, born in HK. For the life of me, I can’t imagine why, already with the anonymity of the internet, someone would feel the additional need to take on multiple handles/identities to try to make their point. Such individuals, if they actually exist, probably need an alternate hobby to occupy their otherwise rudderless lives. So no, I’m not Raj, who is British. And we have quite different writing styles, though perhaps less divergent points of view.

  38. Allen Says:

    @Steve #34,

    You wrote:

    @ Allen: One small change I’d make to your post: the art isn’t in the “West”, it’s in France and England. The “West” didn’t ransack the Original Summer Palace, it was ransacked at first by the French and soon after by the English and some local Chinese. As an example, I don’t think the “East” attacked Pearl Harbor, Japan did. I don’t like all this “West” stuff; it’s too general a term and people use it to blame innocent countries for acts in which they did not participate.

    I think I see your point about overattributing the sins of a few to the entire West.

    But if we think along that line: why attribute to France and England? Why not just attribute the looting and robbing to the French military or British military? Or just to the officers and soldiers involved? Or maybe just Napoleon or Queen Victoria – instead of the people of France and England?

    On the other hand, why not attribute to the whole West? The West is the West because of a certain set of cultural norms. I may be wrong in this, but I would guess that if each of the Western countries had the power to pillage and loot … they would – at least as of 1860 or so…. Since any Western country that could would go on to become colonials.

    I see your point about overattributing – but I think without more evidence why I am wrong, I am justified in this case…

  39. Wukailong Says:

    @Allen: “I think without more evidence why I am wrong, I am justified in this case…”

    What sort of evidence do you need? 🙂

    If we keep it on the country level, it’s definitely not too difficult, and that also seems to be a common practice. The German government still offers apologies, Japan is still asked for an apology, the Israeli and Palestine governments are considered guilty for suffering in the past, and so on.

    Or let us take another example, Sweden before the labor movement and the liberals got the upper hand and democratic laws were passed. Norway was still in a forced union with Sweden, which they badly wanted to leave. The only reason this didn’t happen earlier were because of threats of military violence from the then ruling elite. Finally, after the ideological spectrum was changed, militarism ceased.

    The ideological pluralism we can see in the Western world today, as well as the reactions by different countries, is what I think makes it unfair to constantly use the term “the West”. As another example, what did the West as a whole think about the war in Iraq? Is there even a consensus? Of course not.

    “Why not just attribute the looting and robbing to the French military or British military? Or just to the officers and soldiers involved? Or maybe just Napoleon or Queen Victoria – instead of the people of France and England?”

    It depends on their level of support. I don’t know what the people at the time thought, because they didn’t have much of a say – but if they had, it depends on the level of nationalism at the time. I guess it was very high, but the working class might not have been that fervent.

    “Since any Western country that could would go on to become colonials.”

    I would prefer if not just people, but countries, are considered innocent until proven guilty.

  40. Wukailong Says:

    On the other hand, talking about a Western invasion and the stolen art being in the West – I don’t really see a problem with that. If someone from my family stole something and put it in our apartment, well, then it would still be in our apartment. However, if people said that the whole family is guilty… that would be a different thing.

  41. Ted Says:

    The role of the auction house is merely to transfer the piece from one person to another, they don’t own the works themselves. To use a straw man who might accidentally wind up with one of the pieces would wipe out a considerable portion of the commission. The goal is generally to present the object with as much emotional detachment as possible (except when associating it with the current owner who, if they are or were well-known, is a great way to drive up prices. How much did Elane pay for JFK’s golf clubs 🙂 ). Based on an earlier comment here I would guess that the line –“Thus, even before the storming of the Yuanming Yuan”– leans toward a certain legal interpretation. The rest of the description focuses on attribution and context.

    @huaren: “How did you conclude these animals were designed by Castiglione? Not the Lei family or the hundreds of Chinese artists working for the Emperor?”

    That’s covered by the link AndyR provided. I found the description of the Palace interesting as well:

    “The Western-style ornamentation is to be seen in the columns, pilasters and entablatures, which decorate the exteriors of the buildings, as well as the balustrades and staircases… These decorative elements as well as the decoration on the fountains were European in concept, but with modifications for Chinese taste. For instance while the decoration had rococo elements such as ornate vases of flowers, no nude figures were included – only animals and floral designs.”

    Or just take a look at the link in Allen’s comment #32. To me this building reflects an age of globalization and cultural exchange similar to the one we’re in today, but it was an age without our current legal framework or diplomatic channels. Qianlong’s reign is also when we first started to see Chinese stylistic elements in European and American art. Perhaps it can be argued that because there are “modifications for Chinese taste” the style of the palace is more Chinese, but I see it as a building that stands apart from others of the same period. Pieces like the bronzes present an conundrum that I think can only boil down to legal ownership.

  42. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Allen #38:
    “But if we think along that line: why attribute to France and England? Why not just attribute the looting and robbing to the French military or British military? Or just to the officers and soldiers involved? Or maybe just Napoleon or Queen Victoria – instead of the people of France and England?” – because the French or British military did so as an extension of their government of the time; and because the officers and soldiers may have acted on orders, but even if not, they as members of the military were representing their country; and because Napoleon or the Queen merely represented those states as their heads of state. So ultimately, the culpability does not extend beyond the nations in question, and certainly doesn’t involve all of Europe, the majority of North America, and wherever else you could consider “western” culture to hold sway.

    Terms like “the West” in general, perhaps with specific exceptions, are as useless a monolithic over-generalization as saying that all Chinese are blindly in lock-step with the CCP.

    THe further irony is that, while you prefer to be precise to ridiculous levels with words like genocide, politics, and religion, you have no qualms with the super-sized paintbrush when it comes to other terminology.

  43. huaren Says:

    @Ted, #41

    What are you trying to say? For argument’s sake – lets say, all the design were Castiglione’s – that gave the Brits and the French the right to loot and pillage?

    @SKC

    So, scum bag without a moral spine, help me understand why all these animosity against China. For your situation, I can imagine couple of scenarios:

    1. Your parents were part of the “Democracy” crowd in Hong Kong before the hand-over and it was clear to your family you guys had to flee, otherwise the post unification meant hazard personally.

    2. You are a “Student for Free Tibet” recruit pretending to be someone from Hong Kong and you don’t look anywhere remotely like a S. K. Cheung.

    Otherwise I don’t know what gives. Mind helping me out here. Look, seriously, help me understand where you are coming from. If you say you are simply morally righteous (in one shape of another), then that’d be a non-starter, because I know you are lacking in that department.

    What gives? I am dying to know. 🙂

  44. Wukailong Says:

    @huaren: Are you saying that people are more highly morally developed if they come from a certain country or place? Also, what does an S.K. Cheung normally look like?

  45. huaren Says:

    @Allen

    I think I might have to agree with the scum bag on this “the West” thing. In some instances its unfair to say they are all bad. In other instances its giving too much credit to the few scoundrels.

  46. huaren Says:

    @Wukailong, #44

    Absolutely not. And that’s the theme of my comments. Did you ask that question to the “activists”?

  47. Wukailong Says:

    @huaren: Alright. As for the last question my answer is no, since I only know one (former) activist at the moment, and she was working for Greenpeace in China.

  48. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Huaren #43:
    you are a doof of ever-increasing proportions, and while size may matter in some quarters, in your case it is hardly a good thing.

    “why all these animosity against China” – once again, huh? Are you one of the many people around here who can’t distinguish China the country, Chinese the people, and the CCP. My displeasure is only with the latter. Maybe that concept is too difficult for you…you take all the time you need.

    Also, how is it that a person who knows as little as you, feel compelled to assume so much? Now, the saying goes that to assume is to make an ass out of u and me. But in this case, certainly only the former is true. But as I’ve said many a time, whatever floats your boat, pal.

    And in case it wasn’t yet sufficiently clear (and for a doof like you, it may not be), both your assumptions are, how shall I say, challenged in the accuracy department. However, if your therapist says that it’s helpful to continue to blather away like the idiot that you are, please don’t let me stop you. As I’ve also said before, I come here for entertainment, and you are plenty entertaining.

    Oh, and by moral standards, I would be a god compared to a peon like you.

    There…that should suffice for one sitting. Don’t want to overly tax your limited resources. Hope you have some help with your jacket…you know, the one with the extra-long sleeves that ties around the back with like 12 buckles.

  49. Ted Says:

    @huaren: “What are you trying to say?” What I said. Feel free to go back and read it again.

    “For argument’s sake – lets say, all the design were Castiglione’s – that gave the Brits and the French the right to loot and pillage?” No it doesn’t. Congratulations, you constructed an argument and won.

  50. Chops Says:

    According to Wikipedia and its sources,

    “The Elgin Marbles, also known as the Parthenon Marbles, are a collection of classical Greek marble sculptures, inscriptions and architectural members that originally belonged to the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens.Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1799 to 1803 and a looter according to some people in Britain, obtained an ambiguous permission from the Ottoman authorities to remove pieces from the Acropolis.”

    His son, “James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin and 12th Earl of Kincardine, KT, GCB, PC (20 July 1811 – 20 November 1863) was a British colonial administrator and diplomat, best known as the man who ordered the complete destruction of the Old Summer Palace in the Second Opium War by 3,500 British soldiers”

    So serial looting runs in the Bruce family (Elgin descendants, sue me 🙂 )

    There’s another blog on this: So who did loot those French-Italian animal heads?
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/richard_spencer/blog/2009/02/25/so_who_did_loot_those_frenchitalian_animal_heads

  51. perspectivehere Says:

    First, mention should be made of the work that is being done by organizations such as Saving Antiquities for Everyone (SAFE) to raise awareness of the importance of safeguarding cultural heritage of every country.

    http://safecorner.savingantiquities.org/

    It is interesting to see that the lead story on the SAFE website relates to British citizens who are concerned that unregulated trade in these goods will result in Britain’s cultural treasures being lost (and winding up with American collectors). See http://www.heritageaction.org/?page=theheritagejournal&id=181

    There are English laws regulating these matters, such as the “Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offenses) Act 2003”

    http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2003/ukpga_20030027_en_1

    There seem to be two extremes in the spectrum of views: (1) dealers and collectors should have maximum freedom to purchase and trade such goods without restriction, regulation or consequences (typically allied with arguments that wealthy collectors and museums will “provide a good home” to such goods); and (2) such goods properly belong to the cultural context and or country in which they were produced and/or used, and therefore should be protected from separation, and unregulated trade means a “free-for-all” where it becomes impossible to protect the goods from looters and plunderers.

  52. perspectivehere Says:

    A representative from Saving Antiquities for Everyone was quoted in a 2007 Time Magazine article relating to a Sotheby’s auction of other bronze animal heads looted from the Summer Palace:

    “But while Sotheby’s positions itself as a friend of China in facilitating such deals (“We are proud to act as an international platform for the repatriation of these treasures,” is Ching’s way of putting it), many argue that the sales are not right, even if they are legal. “This issue is a moral issue,” says Cindy Ho, founder of Saving Antiquities for Everyone, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving cultural heritage. ‘The Chinese zodiac animals from Yuanmingyuan … need to be together on Chinese soil.’ ”

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1665981,00.html

    Let’s repeat what she said. The sale is not right. It’s a moral issue. In the view of organizations such as SAFE (and those who support this view) it is immoral to sell these pieces.

    In this view, the fact that the proceeds of the sale would be used for charity does not change the fact that the very act of Pierre Berge in putting these looted works up for sale is immoral – it’s wrong.

  53. perspectivehere Says:

    Second, this TimeAsia article from 2003, “Spirited Away”, details the destruction to the cultural heritage and archeological and historical sites in Asia due to untrammelled international trade in looted artifacts. Despite domestic laws and enforcement actions against looters, the profits to be made by dealers and middlemen often provide an irresistible incentive driving impoverished peasants to loot sites.

    http://www.time.com/time/asia/covers/501031020/story.html

    What can be done about this? It is self-serving for the international collector and dealer community to say that they are “providing a good home” for these goods, when it is in fact the existence of these free markets (i.e., that someone in possession of such an object is able to exchange such object for value freely and without consequence) is what drives the looting to begin with.

    If such international markets were properly restricted and regulated so that only those who can prove the provenance can sell (or some other mechanism to limit the trade in illegally obtained goods) then the looting would diminish.

    To properly police this requires international coordinated action. This is likely a low priority in many governments. Many saw how low a priority it was when the U.S. occupation forces allowed looting of Iraqi museums and libraries to take place.

    At this time, there is relatively weak legal protection being given for cultural artifacts, and insufficient enforcement resources being dedicated towards these efforts.

    The controversy and press being created over this issue is overall a good thing for highlighting the importance of sensitizing the public to the global issue of the return of cultural artifacts, particularly those looted during armed conflicts.

  54. perspectivehere Says:

    Third, what is particularly hypocritical and galling about the French case is that France has been one of the beneficiaries of worldwide efforts to recover “Nazi loot” and return artworks confiscated, purchased or otherwise acquired during the Nazi occupation to their rightful owners.

    France has no problem asserting its claims, moral and otherwise, to such works that have already gone into private or museum collections.

    For example, this excerpt from an article on the return of artwork by the Detroit Institute of Art, “The DIA Does the Right Thing”, shows some parallels to China’s situation vis-a-vis it’s claimed treasures:

    ““The French government drew up a list of works that had been confiscated from French Jewish families. The Monet landscape was on the list,” explains George Keyes, DIAcurator of European paintings. “The curious thing was that the original owner . . . came to Detroit, was terribly impressed with the museum and offered to sell us the painting. But the French government said it had to be returned to France.”

    “Some of the most useful war documents for restitution
    specialists were prepared in the 1940s by James Plaut. Taking a leave from his job as director of the Institute of Modern Art in Boston, Plaut served four years in the U.S. Navy, the latter two as director of the Art Looting Investigation Unit at the Office of Strategic Services. The unit interviewed most of the functionaries who implemented Nazi policies and reviewed thousands of captured documents before issuing a series of reports. The reports and other sources were used by the French government as it searched for stolen art.”

    “’I know that you will regret, as I do, that we cannot keep
    this superb picture,’ DIAdirector Edgar P. Richardson wrote
    to the Ralph Harman Booth Fund in November 1949. ‘It is
    some small satisfaction to know that on the French
    Government’s list of stolen works of art, this was marked as
    a painting of major national importance whose recovery . . .
    was considered necessary for the good of the French nation.’”

    *******end quote*******

    So whereas France can assert its claims “for the good of the French nation”, even going so far as to overrule the wishes of the rightful owner to sell a work to the Detroit museum, it now (through its courts) refuses to recognize China’s arguably stronger claim?

    See http://www.michiganhistorymag.com/extra/pdfs/ja00dia.pdf
    for the full article.

    The article details numerous examples of dealers and collectors who, when confronted with the fact that these works were Nazi loot, were willing to return these works to France without compensation.

  55. TonyP4 Says:

    I came across YingYing’s comment as follows. Just sad and no words can describe how outrageous the barbarians from the west are. Thanks YingYing.

    Let’s hope that the history will not repeat since problems are over our head again!! Can we ever learn as human?? We always choose destruction to solve our problems. We do not have much left to destroy…

    The Old Summer Palace which was built in the 18th and early 19th century were destroyed by British and French troops in 1860. It was almost 5 times the size of the Forbidden City, and 8 times the size of the Vatican City.

    There were also a few buildings in Tibetan and Mongol styles, and European-style buildings reflecting the diversity of the Qing Empire. It had hundreds of halls, pavilions, temples, galleries, gardens, lakes, etc. Several famous landscapes of southern China had been reproduced in the Imperial Gardens, hundreds of invaluable Chinese art masterpieces and antiquities were stored in the halls, making the Imperial Gardens one of the largest museums in the world. Some unique copies of literary work and compilations were also stored inside the Imperial Gardens.

    It took 3,500 British troops to set the entire place ablaze, taking three days to burn.

    Charles George Gordon, a 27-year-old captain in the Royal Engineers wrote: “We went out, and, after pillaging it, burned the whole place, destroying in a vandal-like manner most valuable property which [could] not be replaced for four millions. We got upward of £48 apiece prize money…I have done well. The [local] people are very civil, but I think the grandees hate us, as they must after what we did the Palace. You can scarcely imagine the beauty and magnificence of the places we burnt. It made one’s heart sore to burn them; in fact, these places were so large, and we were so pressed for time, that we could not plunder them carefully. Quantities of gold ornaments were burnt, considered as brass. It was wretchedly demoralizing work for an army.”

    Some contemporary Frenchmen, such as Victor Hugo, disapproved of the action; in his “Expédition de Chine”, Hugo described the looting as, “‘Two robbers breaking into a museum, devastating, looting and burning, leaving laughing hand-in-hand with their bags full of treasures; one of the robbers is called France and the other Britain. In his letter Hugo hoped that one day France would feel guilty and return what it had plundered from China.

  56. perspectivehere Says:

    One final comment about French looting of Asian cultural treasures is the notorious case of a young Andre Malraux, writer of La Condition humaine, 1933 (Man’s Fate, 1934) and later to become France’s Minister of Culture.

    When the 22-year old Malraux went exploring in Cambodia (then part of the colony of French Indochine), he came upon the beautiful temple Banteay Srei, and proceeded to hack apart exquisite bas-relief pieces to ship back to Paris: See
    http://www.asiaexplorers.com/cambodia/banteay_srei.htm

    Note the beauty of this temple which was nearly destroyed by looting.

    According to this 2005 article from the Siem Reap Journal, “A Cruel Race to Loot the Splendor That Was Angkor”:

    “Drawings of the period show large statues strapped to rafts and protected by armed Frenchmen as they floated down rivers on their way to Paris. In the 1920’s, as a young writer, André Malraux, who later became France’s minister
    of culture, was convicted in an Indochina court for stealing priceless figures from one of the most beautiful temples, Banteay Srei. He was sentenced to three years in prison but never served any time.”

    If Malraux had not been caught and had managed to ship away these works, should Cambodia have the right to demand their return today?

    I don’t think China’s position is any different in this regard.

  57. perspectivehere Says:

    Some more detail on Malraux’s shameful, duplicitous and illegal actions:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=-r032DSDsOIC&pg=RA1-PA392&lpg=RA1-PA392&dq=andre+malraux+loot+cambodia&source=bl&ots=L7_5392CTY&sig=UdmePu–yuq3mdXcF-kCYVVHp_o&hl=en&ei=THilSaiNLtXRkAWU5NW6BQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=4&ct=result#PRA1-PA390,M1

    The point of mentioning Malraux’ actions in Cambodia is to show Malraux as an exemplar of the reckless disregard that the French colonialists in the early 20th century had towards the rights of Asian conquered peoples to their cultural artifacts. As long as these objects could be stolen to be sold to (Western) collectors for profit, then they went ahead with looting.

    In this case, there is no questions that the bronze heads were stolen. Injustices committed in the past are not wiped away simply with the passage of time.

    If the French can claim a moral right to the return of artworks stolen during wartime by the Germans, why do the French not recognize an equivalent claim from China against those French soldiers who may have looted these artifacts in the 1860’s?

    France’s behavior in this regard brings to mind the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18:21-35. (http://bible.logos.com/passage/nkjv/Mt%2018.21-35)

    A servant owes his master some money, but when he is unable to repay the master, the servant is forgiven. Yet, when the same servant is owed some money from a fellow servant, he treats him without mercy, sending the fellow servant to debtor’s prison. When the master hears what the first servant has done, he is angered by the first servant’s lack of compassion, and punishes him mercilessly.

    France is showing a decided lack of compassion towards China in this case.

  58. huaren Says:

    @SKC, #48

    LOL. Talking about “proportions”? You have the Brits and the French forcing Chinese people to take Opium. China resisted and these murderers invaded the country. They killed, pillaged, and looted. Chinese people are trying to protest the sell of these items – not allowing this attrocity to be legitimized.

    This issue is every way Chinese. My expectation would be that you take this simple moral stance with the Chinese people (since you proclaim to care about human rights and what not). But, nope, you had wet your pants thinking you had this “legal” idea for why the French ought to letimize that crap.

    See, for moral retards like you, you are always consistent with your duplicitusness.

    I am glad you get entertained here. I love to expose scum bags like you. Its a win-win, no? 🙂

    Ok, you can have the last words on me in this thread. I have said what I want to say and I am through with you here.

  59. William Huang Says:

    @ perspectivehere # 51, 52, 53, 54, 56, and 57.

    My two thumbs up for your posts there!

  60. Raj Says:

    @ 54

    So whereas France can assert its claims “for the good of the French nation”, even going so far as to overrule the wishes of the rightful owner to sell a work to the Detroit museum, it now (through its courts) refuses to recognize China’s arguably stronger claim?

    Although there is an issue for China to engage the French government over, I would not drag the French courts into this matter. You won’t the court’s decision as being fair, but right and wrong doesn’t come into it. They have to apply the law as it stands.

  61. Charles Liu Says:

    Well, China can keep Tibet, like the west is entitled to keep their loot. Here you go straight from Pierre Berge’s mouth:

    http://in.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idINTRE51J5QU20090220?sp=true

    I hope next time cripple Chinese girls will not be attacked in Paris over Tibet.

  62. Bob Says:

    Freedom scums will feel the repercussions.

  63. Steve Says:

    Per Charles Liu’s Reuters link in #61, I saw this statement:

    Xinhua said China and France signed a 1995 convention on stolen or illegally exported cultural objects, “which stipulated that any cultural object looted or lost because of reasons of war should be returned without any limitation of time span.”

    For the interest of our discussion, you can read the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects here.

    Xinhua also mentions the Declaration on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums, signed by 18 international museums. That text is here.

    In 1984, the challenges addressed in the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property were further taken up by another international organization, the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law, known by the acronym UNIDROIT, which issued the final draft of its “Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects” in June 1995. The UNIDROIT Convention is a complement to the UNESCO Convention. Perhaps the most important clause in the Convention is the principle that anyone with a stolen item in his/her possession must in all cases restore it. This rule forces buyers to check that the goods have come onto the market legally, otherwise they will have to be returned. As of 2003, forty countries have agreed to the UNIDROIT Convention. The UNIDROIT Convention remains controversial even among those who are eager to regulate international trade in antiquities, preserve and study them. Among the countries not agreeing are Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Generally dealers and collectors prefer looser regulation than countries which are the sources of antiquities, and many have effectively lobbied their governments in opposition to the UNIDROIT Convention.

    An except from a Xinhua article a couple of weeks ago: A Chinese expert on international cultural relics law said on Friday that a proposed lawsuit seeking the return of two looted Chinese relics to be auctioned in Paris is unlikely to succeed.

    A team of 81 Chinese lawyers have written to Christie’s auction house in an effort to stop the sale of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) bronze rabbit and rat head sculptures. They have also written to Pierre Berge, current owner of the sculptures, asking him to return the relics to China.

    The team said they would sue Pierre Berge in France if their letters failed to receive “positive feedback”. Christie’s, which has scheduled the auction from Feb. 23 to 25, would be named in the lawsuit as a third party.

    “With full respect to their sincerity and patriotism, I think there is little chance of them winning the lawsuit,” Wang Yunxia, a professor of cultural relics law at Renmin University in Beijing, told Xinhua.

    China and France signed the 1995 Unidroit Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects, which is intended to facilitate the restitution and return of stolen cultural relics.

    But Wang said the fact that the convention could not be applied retroactively was a major obstacle. “That means the convention applies only to cultural objects that are stolen or illegally traded after the convention takes effect,” she said.

    Morally and ethnically, I agree with most everyone here that the objects should be returned. But practically and unfortunately, it seems there is no way outside of a successful bid to allow that to happen, at least under current law.

  64. William Huang Says:

    @ Steve #63

    I agree with you.

    What I had the problem with France is the double standards. It’s not unreasonable to say that if China has to respect the law in France, then France has to respect the law in China. So if the Tibet riots broke the law, then they should be punished according to law in China and France shouldn’t complain about it if they want China to respect the law in France.

    Why then, when it comes to the Chinese property in France, it’s about the law in France, but when it comes to law in China, it’s about human rights. Who sets the rule? I say, by the end of the day, it’s military power.

  65. Charles Liu Says:

    Thank you Steve, for the research. I hope the rationality and generosity in “practically and unfortunately” extends to China’s existing sovereignty and current states vis-a-vis Tsinghai SAR. It too, seems there is no way outside of a successful military defeat of China by Tibeteans to allow that to change, at least under current Chinese/international law.

    And just to be fair, the same thing applies to Native Americans, First Nations, Hawaii, Northern Ireland, Okinawa/Ryukyu, the GaoShanRen in Taiwan (whom used to live on the plains until Han people drove them up the hills)…

  66. FOARP Says:

    @Charles Liu – Except that they have the ability to form political parties, elect officials, and express their desire for national self-determination ‘to be fair’.

  67. FOARP Says:

    As for the rest of the posing on this thread, and there is nothing else it can be called, can we please remember that we are talking about two lumps of brass, which, if looted at all, were taken some 150 years ago? But then ‘freedom scums’ like myself are brainwashed into thinking this way, I guess I’ll just have to smoke some more opium and forget about the whole thing . . .

  68. Allen Says:

    @FOARP – it’s two lumps of brass worth about US $18 million each … for some, it’s obviously worth more than just two lumps of brass. For others of us here – it’s worth even more than that!

  69. Steve Says:

    @ Allen #38: Allen, you surprised me! You’ve tried to reduce the argument to absurdity. Why don’t we just reduce it to the brain cells in the French and English general’s minds that allowed them to issue the looting order? 😀

    Then you go the opposite direction and make the broad assumption that the behaviour of a few countries must imply the behaviour of all the countries in the general proximity of each other, in this case England and France. Not sure if Canada, Australia, the USA and New Zealand are also included. But the Japanese looted during the war, so we’ll need to include all countries with Buddhist and Confucian roots. And some of the looting was done by local Chinese, so we definitely have to include China, since at the time the Qing dynasty wasn’t considered to be Chinese except now the Manchu ARE Chinese and… oh, my head hurts! Why not just include the whole planet? Or maybe the galaxy???

    Were the Swiss colonials? Were the Norwegians? How about the Austro-Hungarian empire? Because the Japanese were imperialists during the 20th century, can we assume that China would have been imperialist if given the opportunity since they have the same set of cultural norms? Under your reasoning, we’d have no choice. What you’re saying is that the Chinese would pillage and loot because the Japanese did so.

    Personally, Confucian/Buddhist or not, I don’t think Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, etc. have the same cultural norms. I don’t think the USA, UK, France, Germany and Italy have the same cultural norms. I see them as similar in some respects and very different in others. If the sins of the father cannot be laid on the son, how can the sins of someone be laid on their third cousin?

    It always annoys my wife when someone comes up to her and starts speaking Japanese or Korean. She feels nothing in common with either culture. I’ve been all over Europe and don’t feel any of those countries are that similar to America. Even when in Canada I can still tell right away that it’s not my own country.

    Aren’t we engaging in racist stereotypes (all caucasians loot) when we apply broad labels simply because of race? The values have certain similarities in some areas but they are certainly not the same. I still think you are overattributing cultural similarities because of race. As an example, back in 1860 the English did not in any way consider Italians to be even remotely similar to themselves. They considered them an alien culture, not as alien as China but certainly not like the English to their way of thinking.

    I feel you were considering modifying your position. I hope I have given you enough to do so. 😛

  70. Bob Says:

    FOARP, I didn’t know your Anglo-Saxons lineage crossed into Freedom territory.

  71. perspectivehere Says:

    @Steve #63

    Thanks for the postings and links.

    Another organization to take notice of on this thread is the Association for the Protection of Art of China in Europe (APACE). This appears to be a Europe-based organization made up of “Chinese culture and antiques lovers, as well as art amateurs… politicians, aristocrats, artists and entrepreneurs from all over Europe and China” dedicated to recovery of cultural and artistic works that have made their way to Europe.

    http://www.apace.info/Contact_Apace.aspx?lang=eng

    APACE is the organization that actually filed the suit against Christie’s and Pierre Berge. The Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris rejected it APACE’s claim and also ordered APACE to pay auctioneer’s Christie’s and Pierre Berge, Saint Laurent’s former business manager and companion, 1,000 euros in costs each.

    http://tvnz.co.nz/world-news/paris-court-rejects-chinas-ysl-claim-2500712

  72. Shn Says:

    What’s interesting is to see those bleeding-heart Westerners who denounce CCP day in day out, claiming to seek justice and human rights for the Chinese people. When Chinese people is treated with injustice by the West, where is the moral outrage? Wait, here comes the law of the West which perverts justice, but should be respected foremost, as to the cause of justice, well good luck next time, and only when suits their needs to assault CCP.

    The question to the Chinese people is, should we ever trust those self-styled human rights fighters, who work earnest to sow the seed of strife and discontent among Chinese people, who work to incite Chinese people against CCP, who work to demonize China in Western media? Come on there never was such Western freedom fighters sticking their necks out for the Chinese people! they are the descendants of those launched two wars to force opium on China for a hundred years, they are the descendants killed, raped and pillaged Chinese Capital in forcing opium on China, and logically they defend their rights to the looted goods passed down from their savage ancestors, as well as those traitors who helped along the invaders 150 yrs ago. Why should we be surprised, Who are we kidding??

    What this tells China is that, the West has no moral, even though it loves to take moral high grounds to condemn the oppressed, because the West’s hold on the world wide media. The West knows only power, military power. To seek justice for China, China needs to grow her economy which the military power rests on.Might is right that’s the only rule the West obeys. Indeed what stops China going to the door step of France to demand those artifacts back, if we can park 50 carriers in Mediterranean. So I don’t argue with those Westerners, that’s a waste of time.

  73. Allen Says:

    @Steve #69…

    You are probably right. Not all the West are colonials.

    You are also right: I might as well blame the whole universe!

    But for this (emotional) thread – let me be emotional … I am a human being and need some space to vent!

  74. Steve Says:

    @ Allen: Ha ha, vent to your heart’s content!! 😉

  75. Allen Says:

    @Shn #72,

    You wrote:

    Indeed what stops China going to the door step of France to demand those artifacts back, if we can park 50 carriers in Mediterranean. So I don’t argue with those Westerners, that’s a waste of time.

    I know where you are coming from.

    But if the Chinese have to pay for 50 carriers to park in the Mediterranean to get the treasures back, it might be economically cheaper to simply buy them back in auction houses!

  76. Steve Says:

    Let’s not jump on all the French. This man’s non-profit organization, the Association for the Protection of Art of China in Europe (APACE) mentioned in perspectivehere’s post #71, was also responsible for filing the lawsuit in the French court to halt the sale of the two bronze sculptures:

    2,300-YEAR-OLD TRIPODAL BRONZE VESSEL RETURNED TO CHINA

    Bernard Gomez, a noted French archaeologist and an expert on Chinese antiquities, presented a 2,300-year-old bronze ding, or three-legged tripod, to the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Heritage Bureau. It arrived at its new home in Xi’an on 10 April. The valuable vessel bears an inscription that runs to 50 inscribed characters, which indicates that it was owned in turn by the Han state of the Warring States period (475 – 221 BCE), the Xianyang Palace of the Qin dynasty and by the Linjin Palace of the Han dynasty.

    Gomez purchased the object on the open market for an undisclosed price, although it is believed to be worth several million USD. Xinhua reported that Gomez ‘came to China in 1986 and has been devoted to Chinese antiquities ever since. He set up an Association for the Protection of Chinese Art in Europe in 2004 to help retrieve relics lost overseas, after seeing so many Chinese relics sold at auction abroad’.

    The object will be exhibited at the Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum in Lintong.

  77. Deluxe Says:

    (Disclaimer: I’m french)

    I totally dislike posts like “We will make french people pay for this affair”…

    Do you really think that all french agree with this auction?
    I, personally, would love to see Pierre Berge give the pieces back to China. It would be the rightful thing to do and, according to his entire collection, he isn’t in dire need of money.

    I totally agree that France, Great Britain and colonialists in general were totally awful. But it was a hundred years ago and even at the time, everybody was not ok with this (Remember that France was a empire, with no cares for the people’s opinion).

    So, concerning Pierre Berge, sorry for the moron but please don’t judge everybody for one’s merits.

  78. Wukailong Says:

    Finally, the French strikes back!

  79. colin Says:

    Assets stolen by Nazi Germans have been returned to the Jews. Why should this be different? Maybe the French hate Jews and China?

  80. William Huang Says:

    @ Deluxe #77
    Thank you for your post and I am, as a Chinese never had any animosity against French people.

    The international affairs and conflicts are not governed by democracy but power and fists. We, Chinese have finally learned this lesson thanks to CCP. Until the world stage itself is a democracy, military power is the only card any country can throw it on the table. Without it, you just have to shut up and listen. I am not promoting wars but just look at past 50 years. Who started all the fights?

    So, for China not being surrounded to the demand from outside, the only way is to arm ourselves. This is just the reality. I hope you can forgive us being little bit too sensitive or aggressive in this matter because most of time on this FM blog, Chinese people are on the defense side and nobody likes to be criticized. Just image you are sitting in a meeting with a group of people with your shortcomings as the meeting agenda. Anybody will get little defensive in that situation.

    I am writing this post to let you know that I, as one reader, do appreciate what you have written there and I believe many other readers do too.

  81. miaka9383 Says:

    Tho I believe that the pieces should be returned, I also believe that Chinese Government should have participated in this auction. After all, the profit from goes towards aids-related charities.
    If Chinese Government are as Open and have a Big heart like they portrayed themselves to be, they should have participated. Show that they care to participate in the rest of the world. With good publicity by participating in charities such as this, they can show that they are no longer the cold hearted communist government. And that they are a world leader.

  82. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Perspective Here #51-54, 56-57:
    excellent posts.
    “France is showing a decided lack of compassion towards China in this case.” – I think that was the perfect concluding statement to your posts. Certainly supported by all the arguments you nicely laid out before it, without making leaps of logic or calling upon facts not presented by your evidence.

    “If such international markets were properly restricted and regulated so that only those who can prove the provenance can sell (or some other mechanism to limit the trade in illegally obtained goods) then the looting would diminish.” – that certainly makes sense moving forward. But how far back should this rule be retroactive to? If you can’t “prove” the chain of custody, does that mean it’s stolen? But I certainly agree that you remove the impetus to steal by removing the financial incentive.

  83. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Charles Liu #65:
    “I hope the rationality and generosity in “practically and unfortunately” extends to China’s existing sovereignty and current states vis-a-vis Tsinghai SAR.” – absolutely agree. THe fact that you can’t have it both ways, works both ways. So on the one hand, Chinese can’t say that France is morally bound to return the artifacts, but China is not morally bound to return Tibet to Tibetans. On the other hand, the French can’t say that French law allows them to hang onto those artifacts, but that CHinese law does not afford China the right to hang onto Tibet.

    That being said, there’s nothing stopping people from criticizing French morals, and many here have already availed themselves to that privilege. And similarly, there should be no such barriers to people, French or otherwise, criticizing Chinese laws.

  84. Deluxe Says:

    @ William Huang #80
    Thank you for your reply.

    I totally understand that when you do not have to defend yourself (for once?), you’re (in general, not personally) a little bit to sensitive. I think it’s the same for everyone.

    I was talking with friends this morning about this case and we agreed that the best solution would have been for France (french government) to buy the heads and give them to China. This would have been awesome and a very good diplomatic move but it’s seems that not everybody at the government share our views =(…

  85. Wukailong Says:

    @Deluxe: I’m just curious, what do French in general think about the US and China? I mean, it’s like the two new superpowers (China is becoming a superpower, at least) chose to vent with France, rather than any other country.

  86. Raj Says:

    Wukailong, Deluxe will have his own view I’m sure, but I’ve found the latest in a series of annual polls on how people in many countries see others’ influence – such as the USA and China. I’ve selected French views.

    http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/pdf/feb09/BBCEvals_Feb09_rpt.pdf

    China is on page 7 – 22% positive to 70% negative

    The USA is on page 9 – 36% positive to 53% negative

  87. perspectivehere Says:

    @Deluxe #77 wrote:

    “I, personally, would love to see Pierre Berge give the pieces back to China. It would be the rightful thing to do and, according to his entire collection, he isn’t in dire need of money.”

    Thank you for your posting and the reminder that moral (or immoral) decisions are made by individuals, not countries.

    The fact that Pierre Berge is French and a French court refused to stop the sale does not mean that all French people are in favor of the sale, and that there are also many French people who think it is wrong to sell these cultural treasures.

    I agree with your idea that the best course would have been for Pierre Berge to give the artworks back.

    These artworks were reportedly part of Yves Saint Laurent’s collection, and they were bequeathed by YSL to a foundation run by Pierre Berge, his business partner and lifelong companion. The proceeds of the auction are said to be used to fund AIDS programs.

    http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/02/24/france.ysl.auction/index.html

    In my fantasy world, Pierre Berge would have “done the right thing” and said this:

    “I acknowledge China’s moral claim to these precious artworks, and condemn the acts over a century ago that destroyed the Yuanmingyuan Summer Palace, which was truly one of the great artistic wonders of the world. At the same time, I have been entrusted with responsibility to the memory of YSL and the foundation which bears our names to carry out its work for combatting of AIDS, which affects so many victims in this world. Therefore I agree to return these artworks to the Chinese people, and my only wish is that the Chinese government, on behalf of its people, grant a certain monetary sum to an appropriate AIDS charity program in China, such as the China Aids Initiative (http://www.chinaaidsinitiative.org/), an alliance of Chinese and international organizations dedicated to helping China accelerate its response to HIV/AIDS, and to do so in the name of my lifelong companion and friend, Yves Saint Laurent. It is hoped that this gesture will demonstrate the goodwill of the Pierre Berge / Yves Saint Laurent Foundation to the Chinese people.”

    If he had done this, Pierre Berge would have been regarded as a “saint” in his own right along with Saint Laurent for many Chinese and those who believe in the return of cultural artifacts around the world. A gesture such as this would have given great hope, and brought a measure of healing to the psychic wound represented by the destruction of the Yuanmingyuan.

    Instead, Pierre Berge’s behavior was disappointing. His evocation of Tibetan rights sounded like “the last refuge of a scoundrel”, an attempt to wrap his lack of moral integrity and understanding with a rallying cry to fashion set, where he could be joined by the Sharon Stones, Stephen Spielbergs and Mia Farrows, and other arts and fashion celebrities who take complex geopolitical matters and reduce them to simplistic cardboard figure evocations of “good guys vs. bad guys”, bringing them cheers from one side of the spectrum and jeers from the other. This kind of thoughtless “drive-by human rights advocacy” seems only to have the effect of inflaming negative passions and make it harder, not easier to have reasonable discussions on these conflicts.

    As a result, the names of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge will be forever tarred by Berge’s lack of decency. Many Chinese (and some who have posted here) have made it clear they regard Pierre Berge as “scum”.

    It is a shame that Pierre Berge has demeaned the name and reputation of YSL in the process. For many thinking Chinese, Pierre Berge’s refusal to return the works will forever create an association between the YSL name and this reminder of national humiliation. No doubt there will be status conscious shoppers who don’t care and will continue to shop for YSL branded goods, but for the thoughtful Chinese who care about their history, I think they will never consider buying YSL when there are plenty of other brands to choose from. If I were a marketing / branding professional for the YSL brand, I would consider this a small disaster for YSL’s China image.

    What is most depressing about this affair is that Pierre Berge had the opportunity to turn this into a beautiful story. Had Pierre Berge taken the Christ-like path of “loving thy enemy” or the Confucian path of “not doing to others what you don’t want them to do to you” or even the Buddhist path of the middle way and compassion, he might have arrived at a different place.

    Instead by viewing China as his “enemy” he has in effect created many angry enemies. The comments from some of the angry Chinese posters here reflect that very clearly.

  88. perspectivehere Says:

    I learned that Pierre Berge is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

    http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=9860&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html

    In the Wikipedia entry on UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors, the names of the ambassadors are listed along with “the projects and activities they support.” Under Pierre Berge, the entry reads “HIV/AIDS issues, Cultural Heritage”. The writer of this entry no doubt has a sense of irony.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNESCO_Goodwill_Ambassador

    Oh, and by the way, the Old Summer Palace was listed by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to its World Heritage List. Here is the description:

    “The Summer Palace in Beijing – first built in 1750, largely destroyed in the war of 1860 and restored on its original foundations in 1886 – is a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value.”

    http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/880

    Pierre Berge should be asked to step down. He can no longer represent UNESCO without bringing shame and ridicule to the organization.

  89. perspectivehere Says:

    Another interesting organization and website on this issue is http://www.culturalheritagelaw.org/ which describes itself as follows:

    “CulturalHeritageLaw.org is the web-based home of The Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation. LCCHP is a nonprofit organization of lawyers, law students and interested members of the public who have joined together to promote the preservation and protection of cultural heritage resources in the United States and internationally through education and advocacy.”

    The site contains a long article first published in newschinamag.com entitled “Lost 12 Zodiacs: A Hard journey Home” in which LCCHP

    http://www.culturalheritagelaw.org/news-issues/news-issues-in-cultural-heritage/lost-12-zodiacs-a-hard-journey-home/

    “Patty Gerstenblith, president of the US-based Lawyers Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation (LCCHP) expressed her point of view to News China on this matter, “The question is whether the zodiac figures would be viewed as stolen property and whether, under the applicable laws of the nations involved, the claim of the original owner (China) is barred through either the statute of limitations or the doctrine of prescription, which give a limited time in which an owner can recover stolen property.”  In her view, if lawyer Liu Yang could place an appeal in the French court, it would make for a most interesting case. “For objects that are highly identified with the culture of their country of
    origin, there is a moral or ethical imperative to try to return such objects. However, it is difficult to require this unless they can be purchased from the current owner. Unfortunately, the law is not well-crafted to right historical wrongs and injustices that were committed a long time ago and, in particular, that predate many of the features of the current legal regimes in the market countries.”

    @Raj #60 wrote:

    “Although there is an issue for China to engage the French government over, I would not drag the French courts into this matter. You won’t the court’s decision as being fair, but right and wrong doesn’t come into it. They have to apply the law as it stands.”

    I think Raj has an overly simplistic view of the way the law works. Laws and legal principles are often unclear and subject to interpretation, and may be applied differently depending on the facts of each case. This is why legal argument, when important and opposing legal principles clash, lead to evolution of “the law”.

    In this case you have the rights of a buyer of stolen goods against the rights of the original owner. You have the added issues of cultural theft and righting historical injustice. There are strong legal and policy rationales for each side. A wise and experienced judge is supposed to balance off these considerations in interpreting legislation and relevant precedents.

  90. Shn Says:

    @Allan #75
    You wrote:
    >>>>>>>>>
    I know where you are coming from.

    But if the Chinese have to pay for 50 carriers to park in the Mediterranean to get the treasures back, it might be economically cheaper to simply buy them back in auction houses!
    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

    I know where you are coming from too. Why buy them back? that’s still economically too expensive, how about sell the ones we still have and make a buck? Better yet, why not sell the Chinese Navy too, when we are at it? now China can save on maintenance while making a buck at the same time, that’s double fortunes, wouldn’t it, wise man?!

    What’s so sad is that it seems to be a Chinese who wants to sell China’s honor in the auction houses.

  91. Deluxe Says:

    @perspectivehere #87
    I… totally… agree.

    @Wukailong #85
    I think that what Raj says #86 is sadly quite true. None of the US or China have an overall good image in France, but not for the same reasons…

    About China…
    Politics :
    China suffers from the problems with Tibet. French are quite ignorant about TIbet in general but, due to the fact that RSF (Reporters Without Borders) founder is french and that he is hard lobbying public opinion, french people is quite unanimously with Tibet.
    I, personally, was like everybody else (for Tibet) but, my girlfriend being chinese (from Wuhan), we talk on the subject after Olympic Games problem in Paris. I search for myself on the subject, ended admitting that I know nothing without being there, so now I shut up =).

    Economy :
    China suffers from numerous factory moving out of France for China. Despite the fact that chinese are not responsible, french in general are resentful for that.

    People :
    There’s no problem here. French people that go in China are very pleased by the country and the people.
    Those who have not have no opinion.

    Note :
    French people interested in civilizations have great respect for Chinese ancient wisdom/knowledge/culture.

    ——-
    About the US…
    Politics :
    US people are seen as imperialists (mostly since second Irak war) and arrogant on foreign affairs.
    They’re seen has dumb with W but the trend seems to disappear with Obama. There’s great hope here for him being a largely better president, both on internal and foreign affairs.

    Economy :
    The american dream is still alive. French suffers from heavy administration so US are still seen as a better place for would-be entrepreneurs, with great others business all over the place, very dynamic.

    One thing that afraid is the total lack of good Universal Health Care. UHC is one of the best things that can happen for people (and for peace of mind) and we’re very pleased and proud of it. The fact that US is rich but lack good Health system is seen as idiot at best.

    People :
    In general, US citizens are seen as arrogant (I think the fact that we’re arrogant too doesn’t help), ignorant, not minding for others and… big, eating awful things (sorry).

    Note : French have a long term good opinion of US (liberty, revolution, in a word our brothers) but recent foreign affairs chaos didn’t help.

  92. Deluxe Says:

    @Shn #90
    Do you really think that honor can be lost for buying back treasures from auction house? I hope not.
    Luckily honor doesn’t depend on details.

  93. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Perspective Here #87:
    nice post once again. But it concerns me that “thoughtful Chinese who care about their history” seem to be a subset of people who are easily given to anger.

  94. admin Says:

    I noticed that we got multiple incoming hits from youtube I Stole China’s Art! and it turned out to be a nice and funny plug from this blogger .

    Thank you, Jazza (rhymingwithoranges)!

  95. Raj Says:

    @ 89

    I think Raj has an overly simplistic view of the way the law works……..

    Sorry, I think that you lack experience of the way the law works. Just because established law can be unclear does not mean that it always is. Unless you can show that French law on the subject of property ownership and looted art is unclear, the law as stands will be applied.

    It is overly simplistic to say that China has legal rights as the “original owner”. Morally it may do, but that is not enough. I’m not sure whether according to French law this organisation could have sued on behalf of a country as if it were the owner, but even if it could the period of time elapsed is far too long and will have incurred a limitation period.

    cultural theft

    Unfortunately any suspects will have died now. A past allegation of theft won’t sway a court if the limitation period has kicked in.

    righting historical injustice

    Unless a court/tribunal is specially empowered to do this, a standard court will not override regular law and procedure to make judgments like this. It’s a can of worms best left to politicians.

    A wise and experienced judge is supposed to balance off these considerations in interpreting legislation and relevant precedents.

    A wise and experienced judge would immediately recognise that this is mainly a political, not legal, matter, which was probably why the case was thrown out.

    ++++

    Deluxe, has your girlfriend lived in Tibet and does she admit there is any repression there? If no to either question I think you should tell her to shut up and let you have your own views. 😉

  96. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Deluxe #91:
    we also have Universal Health Care in Canada, but after watching Sicko, I got the impression that our version is nothing compared to yours. Do families with infants really get in-home assistance paid for by your government?

  97. colin Says:

    @Raj 95

    I’m sorry, but your lengthy post is BS. This post doesn’t add value to the topic either, but at least it’s short.

  98. William Huang Says:

    @ Raj #95
    Your rationalization is too self-serving or should I say, with obvious bias against Chinese interest for no good reason. Let’s see what are your points here:

    “Sorry, I think that you lack experience of the way the law works. Just because established law can be unclear does not mean that it always is. Unless you can show that French law on the subject of property ownership and looted art is unclear, the law as stands will be applied.”

    I will take grain of salt on any ruling by a French court when a French interest is at stake against non-French party. Just because French court ruled in favor of French party it does not mean the law was clear or that’s a fair ruling according to the law. How do you know the French law in this respect is very clear. Can you elaborate?

    “It is overly simplistic to say that China has legal rights as the “original owner”. Morally it may do, but that is not enough.”

    If China doesn’t, do you know who does? It couldn’t have been YSL. Do you agree?

    “I’m not sure whether according to French law this organisation could have sued on behalf of a country as if it were the owner, but even if it could the period of time elapsed is far too long and will have incurred a limitation period.”

    You are trying real hard to make silly excuses. Do you actually know the limitation period in French law or you just wish?

    “Unless a court/tribunal is specially empowered to do this, a standard court will not override regular law and procedure to make judgments like this. It’s a can of worms best left to politicians.”

    Are you suggesting that French government should do something about it and help to get them back to China, the rightful owner?

    “A wise and experienced judge would immediately recognise that this is mainly a political, not legal, matter, which was probably why the case was thrown out.”

    You have enough experience in French court to make that claim? A return of stolen goods is political?

    “Deluxe, has your girlfriend lived in Tibet and does she admit there is any repression there? If no to either question I think you should tell her to shut up and let you have your own views.”

    You are out of line and I am questioning your real motive.

  99. perspectivehere Says:

    @Raj #95 and @Colin #97

    Apologies but I am not as pithy as Colin, so I will write a long post where Colin made the same point in two sentences. Let me flesh out what I think Colin means, and why I think Colin is correct in his view that Raj is incorrect on many fronts.

    Raj’s original statement in #60 to which I objected was this:

    “Although there is an issue for China to engage the French government over, I would not drag the French courts into this matter. You won’t the court’s decision as being fair, but right and wrong doesn’t come into it. They have to apply the law as it stands.”

    My biggest objection was his statement “I would not drag the French courts into this matter”. I say, why not? Bringing court cases to challenge unjust or unfair laws is a time-honored method of advancing principles. NGOs in societies with developed judicial systems routinely use the courts as one of many strategies to bring about legal change. For example, here is a primer from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation called “Effective Advocacy at All Levels of Government”, to show NGOs how to advocate for their causes. There is a section devoted to advocacy via the judicial branch: http://www.wkkf.org/advocacyhandbook/page3b3a.html. I will quote two relevant paragraphs from the online handbook:

    ************quote***********

    “Judicial Branch Involvement in Public Policy

    “Although most court activity concerns individuals – people accused of crimes, parties to private disputes, protection of children’s interests, administration of estates – the judicial branch also affects public policy. Class action suits can lead to court-ordered implementation or enforcement of existing public policy. If parties sue to resolve conflicting policies, or to terminate policies that violate the Constitution, courts might order another branch or level of government to change policy.”

    “Nonprofit Public Policy Advocacy and the Judiciary

    “Though litigation is costly and time-intensive, nonprofit advocates sometimes go to court in an effort to achieve public policy goals. Litigation it is not a strategy for making new law; it can only address a breach of current law. Also, litigants must have “legal standing” – i.e., be personally affected by a law or represent those who are – in order to bring a lawsuit. Despite these challenges, nonprofit advocates have successfully used court action to create profound public policy change, such as ending public school desegregation through the landmark Supreme Court case Brown vs. Board of Education.”

    **********end quote *********

    In the United States, “Brown vs. Board of Education” refers to several judicial cases in the 1950’s which challenged and eventually put an end to racial segregation. See http://brownvboard.org/summary/. This is one of the best examples of how the U.S. Supreme Courts – a set of nine judges appointed for life – rose above majority-based democratic politics to strike down long-standing racial policies favoring the white majority. It took many years of efforts and court challenges by activist lawyers and rights organizations – such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons (NAACP) – to get to that legal victory.

    In fact, legal historians sometimes cite the case of Dred Scott v Sandford (1857) where the U.S. Supreme Court made a widely condemned and controversial decisions to uphold the principle that a slave is property and that the State could not give freedom to a slave without just compensation.

    Here is a summary of that case and the court’s decision:

    ******second quote**************

    Dred Scott was a Missouri slave. Sold to Army surgeon John Emerson in Saint Louis around 1833, Scott was taken to Illinois, a free State, and on to the free Wisconsin Territory before returning to Missouri. When Emerson died in 1843, Scott sued Emerson’s widow for his freedom in the Missouri supreme court, claiming that his residence in the “free soil” of Illinois made him a free man. After defeat in State courts, Scott brought suit in a local federal court. Eleven years after Scott’s initial suit, the case came before the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Constitutional Issues

    Did a slave become free upon entering a free State? Could a slave—or a black person—actually be entitled to sue in federal courts? Was the transportation of slaves subject to federal regulation? Could the Federal Government deny a citizen the right to property (interstate transportation of slaves/property) without due process of law? Could an item of property (a slave) be taken from the owner without just compensation? …..

    Arguments

    For Dred Scott: When a person enters a free State or territory, the free status overrides the previous condition of servitude. Since slavery was forbidden in the free States and territories by federal and State laws, Dred Scott became free when he entered Illinois and Wisconsin.

    For Sandford: To deprive a person of property (in this case, Dred Scott) without due process or just compensation violated the 5th Amendment, which states that “No person shall be… deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Dred Scott was still a slave and no master’s property rights could be limited or taken away by a State or federal law.

    Decision and Rationale

    The Court decided 7-2 in favor of the slave owner. Every justice submitted an individual opinion justifying his position, with Chief Justice Taney’s being the most influential….”

    “The Dred Scott decision unleashed a storm of protest against the Court and the administration of President Buchanan, which supported the decision.”

    http://www.infoplease.com/us/supreme-court/cases/ar09.html

    *********end second quote****************

    The momentum and anger generated by this unjust decision helped to bring about later changes in law that guaranteed the rights of freed slaves. So one can see that, even a “lost” judicial case can lead to victory.

    With that as a background, I don’t think one can tell from the outset whether a particular claim for justice will have “legs” in the courts. It may depend upon the judge, or the particular skill of the lawyers in finding applicable laws or precedent.

    In this type of activism, it does not matter so much whether one wins the immediate case, but whether the principle can be established that the court decision is morally or ethically wrong and that the law should be changed.

    In the Dred Scott case, the Supreme Court decision deemed a slave “property” and therefore the federal government could not deprive the slave owner of his property without compensation, and therefore ordered the slave returned to its owner.

    Raj’s view is that the judge who makes this decision is blameless, and can effectively wash his hands of the judgment, by saying “it is not a matter of right or wrong, I just simply apply the law”. Pontius Pilate comes to mind.

    Raj appears to have no problem with an essentially amoral judicial system. It does not matter whether a system is just or fair, as long as you have clear rules and they are enforced.

    I think most people would be repulsed by that kind of judicial system (except for U.S. neocons who promote exactly that kind of thinking when it serves their purposes).

    What if the judges in Scott had been able to conclude that a “higher law” trumped the law of property – that a black man is a human being, and that no man has a right of ownership over another human being?

    Similarly, in the case of the artworks, could not the judges on the Tribunal have stated that “evolving standards of morality” militate in favor of consideration of the facts and the law, and taken the case on? Could they not have given greater weight to the principle that trading in looted cultural artifacts should be forbidden, and such goods cannot be treated as “property” but must be returned to their place of origin?

    Note for example that in the U.S., there are now federal laws punishing the purchase and sale of Native American artifacts. See this article: http://www.legalaffairs.org/printerfriendly.msp?id=424 There are difficulties in enforcement and interpretation, but the laws are now in existence. Native American rights to their cultural artifacts now trump the right to property in this case. These principles took centuries to evolve, but morality has changed in this case. Why not the same for the bronze heads, looted in an act of wanton destruction?

    The objection I have to Raj’s post in #95 is that what he wrote is petulant and superfluous. It’s clear from my quote of Patty Gerstenblith’s interview in my post of #89 that I understand there are significant hurdles to winning a case. And yet I believe it is worthwhile to try and tilt against that windmill – you can always get lucky, or be granted a measure of grace for trying. There may be a sympathetic judge who is willing to listen to the facts. You don’t win without trying. Where would civil rights have gotten to in the U.S. if black activists had not filed their “hopeless” cases?

    For Raj’s edification, I offer Joseph Tussman’s enlightening discussion on “Judicial Activism and the Rule of Law”: http://josephtussman.wordpress.com/2008/01/21/judicial-activism-and-the-rule-of-law-toward-a-theory-of-selective-intervention/

    So in conclusion, I think APACE’s decision to file this case was a good one, even if they did not prevail.

    (And I don’t think Colin deserves the “-5” thumbs down that he has received)

  100. Steve Says:

    @ perspectivehere #99: As Ted would say (that’s the ‘Ted’ in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures)… most excellent! 🙂

    What APACE did was bring more attention to the world concerning the Chinese people’s feelings about their cultural history. Many remarks have been made on this blog about the difference between the CPC and the Chinese people, but on this matter I think we can all agree that the Chinese people themselves are speaking with one voice. APACE’s lawsuit was in effect a bullhorn that amplified that voice so the rest of the world could hear it. For me, that was the greatest value in their legal action so though it might have failed to stop the sale (and I believe they realized the chances of stopping the sale were pretty remote), it still had a positive effect. I think Deluxe said it best in #77 when he called Pierre Berge a moron; very direct and true. By his recent actions, the man’s reputation and legacy has been shot in a large portion of the world.

    My guess is that Colin’s thumbs down votes were not due to his position but due to his not substantiating his dismissal of Raj’s position. Thanks for fleshing it out!

  101. Deluxe Says:

    @S.K. Cheung #96
    I’m quite sure there is in-home assistance but I think that there conditions for benefiting. I’ve no kid so I’m not very concerned.

    About UHC in general, it covers most of health costs but with the actual government the trend is to diminish the cover slowly.
    French UHC may be the best (I’m not sure) but not for long with this trend.

  102. TonyP4 Says:

    I posted about UHC in the topic on Hillary as follows:

    —-
    Universal health care is good and bad as most systems are. Usually Canadians adopt what works in US, but not this time. Some die because the system does not allow them certain treatments or they’re in the waiting list too long.

    US has a lot of holes in the current system. When you go to emergency, you’re automatically covered in most states, even you’re illegal aliens. Not so as a regular doctor’s visit for the same health problem. The poor in Mass is pretty much covered except dental for adults.

    My proposal, ideal but not practical or too many politicians/purists twisting my arm… A safety net for basic treatment for all. The better coverage is paid for by individual. My point is to encourage folks to work hard, make more money and pay their own health coverage. Nothing special, noble – just common sense.

  103. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Perspectivehere #99:
    nice post once again. I agree with you that the case met its objective of putting Chinese concerns regarding Chinese cultural artifacts on the international radar. And I agree that the law (or at least my paltry understanding of it) progresses when specific cases shine a light on areas where its application is unfair, or perhaps even unjust.

    On the other hand, I think judges have to apply the law as written. Otherwise they’d be accused of judicial activism. To my understanding, I don’t think the judges erred in this case. However, as you say, public opinion based on this case may one day result in an evolution of such laws, so that a future case might be judged by a different metric. And that would not be a bad outcome from this current case.

  104. perspectivehere Says:

    @SKC #103

    You wrote: “On the other hand, I think judges have to apply the law as written. Otherwise they’d be accused of judicial activism.”

    “Judicial activism” is in the eye of the beholder. In the United States, the accusation of “judicial activism” mainly comes from the right wing whenever rights are expanded to those they deem unworthy.

    The right wing claim that they stick to the “law as written”, which they call “original intent”. So for example, to interpret what “cruel and unusual punishment” means, a judge should follow what was meant by the term in the 1790’s.

    See for example:

    “Scalia’s interpretation and application of the Eighth Amendment best exemplifies his judicial philosophy. The Eighth Amendment prohibits Cruel and Unusual Punishment. Courts that evaluate a claim under the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause, Scalia argues, must determine whether a particular punishment was allowed in 1791 when the Eighth Amendment was framed and ratified. Moreover, he argues that courts must not take into account notions of the evolving standards of human decency. For example, Scalia contends that Capital Punishment was clearly contemplated by the framers and ratifiers of the federal Constitution. The Fifth Amendment explicitly references capital crimes, Scalia observes, and capital punishment was prevalent in the United States when the Constitution was adopted.”

    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Scalia,+Antonin

    (or see this from a popular conservative columnist Cal Thomas (who is a panelist on Fox News Watch): “As to the constitutional issue regarding cruel and unusual punishment, here too, some history may be helpful. This is why “original intent” of the Founders is important to consider, because what they meant by the phrase and what we think we believe about it differs considerably. At the time the Bill of Rights was written, the authors specifically sought to ban such execution methods as burning at the stake, crucifixion and breaking on the wheel. In modern times, the Supreme Court has decided cases that redefine what the Founders meant.”)

    http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/thomas121906.php3

    It is frightening to think that a substantial minority of Americans (like the 59 million conservative Americans who voted for McCain/Palin) actually support this stuff.

    On the other hand, one of the greatest U.S. Supreme Court judges (in my view), William Brennan, was routinely accused of being a “judicial activist” by his critics.

    “Brennan’s conservative detractors charged that he was a purveyor of judicial activism, accusing him of deciding outcomes before coming up with a legal rationale for them…..In the 1980s, as the Reagan administration and the Rehnquist Court threatened to “roll back” the decisions of the Warren Court, Brennan became more vocal about his jurisprudential views. In a 1985 speech at Georgetown University, Brennan criticized Attorney General Edwin Meese’s call for a “jurisprudence of original intention” as “arrogance cloaked as humility” and advocated reading the U.S. Constitution to protect rights of “human dignity.””

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_J._Brennan

    Compare this with a perspective from a rabidly right-wing source, the National Review in their “This Week in Liberal Judicial Activism” column:

    “In his 34 years on the Court, Brennan deploys his impressive backroom political skills in the service of liberal judicial activism. It is doubtful that anyone has done more to misshape the Supreme Court’s understanding of the Constitution.”

    http://bench.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ZGYwYzhiNWQ4ZjYzMTA3YjI1ZDExNDkzNzIyZGEwNDU=

    So in the U.S., accusing a judge of “judicial activism” is often a method for right-wing political forces to criticize judges with whose decisions they disagree.

    Sometimes to do the right thing, a judge has to risk being so accused.

  105. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To PerspectiveHere:
    “Sometimes to do the right thing, a judge has to risk being so accused.” – agreed. But in general, I’d be more comfortable if a judge applied the law, rather than making it. And to be honest, I’m not sure if this case rises to the level of warranting one of those times. And I don’t think the judge in question here was a supreme, or whatever the French equivalent would be.

  106. Raj Says:

    @ 98

    Your rationalization is too self-serving or should I say, with obvious bias against Chinese interest for no good reason.

    That is a baseless accusation and in bad faith. Of course that’s a standard debating technique I come across – label someone as “anti-Chinese”. Does it add anything to the discussion? No. Leave the playground antics where they belong, please.

    Just because French court ruled in favor of French party it does not mean the law was clear or that’s a fair ruling according to the law.

    Please do not put words in my mouth – I did not say that. The allegation/implication was that French law is unclear. I was saying that needs to back that up with evidence.

    If China doesn’t, do you know who does? It couldn’t have been YSL. Do you agree?

    I think you don’t understand the way the law works either. There need not be anyone who has existing “original rights”. You’re addressing a moral concept, not a legal one.

    You are trying real hard to make silly excuses. Do you actually know the limitation period in French law or you just wish?

    Do you know the limitation period in French law, or are you wishing one that there isn’t one? I do not know the precise length, but limitation periods are normal in most countries. Now if you wish to maintain that it is more likely than not that France has a limitation period of over a century, please do. But I don’t agree. Perhaps our French friend could find out for us.

    Are you suggesting that French government should do something about it and help to get them back to China, the rightful owner?

    If anyone can do something about it, it is the French government. If it says “no” China should decide whether to respond with some sort of pressure or let it go.

    A return of stolen goods is political?

    An argument over the return of stolen goods from over a century ago is political, yes.

    You are out of line and I am questioning your real motive.

    Why? Because I suggest he find out whether his partner is talking from experience or presumption? If she has first-hand experience of something, great – she has insights he can’t have. If she’s using second-hand information, he has as much right to his views as she does.

    +++++

    @ 99

    I say, why not? Bringing court cases to challenge unjust or unfair laws is a time-honored method of advancing principles.

    Of course it’s fair to bring a case. I was indicating that people should not lump the court’s decision not to hear the case with France’s general refusal to hand over the pieces. If Chinese are unhappy with the French government’s attitude, that’s fine. But it’s not fair to blame the courts for applying what they regard as the law.

    Raj’s view is that the judge who makes this decision is blameless, and can effectively wash his hands of the judgment, by saying “it is not a matter of right or wrong, I just simply apply the law”. Pontius Pilate comes to mind.

    I don’t believe anyone has died over the decision. Can’t you come up with a more appropriate comparison, preferrably one with a judge?

    Raj appears to have no problem with an essentially amoral judicial system. It does not matter whether a system is just or fair, as long as you have clear rules and they are enforced.

    You’re putting words in my mouth. It would be nice if courts could act on what they thought the “right” thing was, but they can’t. Don’t you know why that is? Because then there would be no legal certainty. People couldn’t be advised on the strength of their case because it would be down to which judge was sitting and how he or she felt on a particular matter. There would be far more legal action because people would think it was “worth a punt”. But if a lawyer can say that a case has little hope because of objective reasons then compromises can be met, or litigation avoided altogether.

    The objection I have to Raj’s post in #95 is that what he wrote is petulant and superfluous.

    Quite the opposite, my posts are based in legal principle that offer something different to the “waah-waah-waah” posts we’ve had here. It is you who superfluously argues on idealistic POVs, whilst also twisting what I’ve posted into completely new and original points of your own imagination.

  107. perspectivehere Says:

    @SKC #105

    You are correct. Of course a judge must apply the law. In a court of first instance, it is rare that judges will venture beyond the narrow confines of existing statutes and precedents. So it would generally be at the highest courts of appeal where policy/balancing concerns are addressed. Although it might have been even more interesting had the Tribunal agreed to hear the case, it was not seen as likely that APACE would have won the case, as many commentators had noted prior to the ruling.

    I only took issue with your use of the term “judicial activism”. It is not necessarily a bad thing, as your post seems to imply – you seemed to be saying, “judges should apply the law – that’s good – but should not be judicial activists – that’s bad.”

    Like they have done with the term “liberal”, the powerful right-wing media machine has turned a reasonable and even noble practice (such as the jurisprudence of Justice Brennan and Thurgood Marshall (another “judicial activist” hated by the American right – see http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?pageId=61976) into a popular term of derision.

    You mentioned that you have a “paltry understanding of the law”. And yet you know the term “judicial activism”, and think it is something to be avoided. Talk about successful propaganda and brainwashing by the U.S. right wing media machine! (see http://mediamatters.org/items/200507290004?f=s_search) It even reaches into Canada.

  108. Raj Says:

    You mentioned that you have a “paltry understanding of the law”. And yet you know the term “judicial activism”, and think it is something to be avoided. Talk about successful propaganda and brainwashing by the U.S. right wing media machine! It even reaches into Canada.

    Are you alledging SKC has been “brainwashed”?

  109. Raj Says:

    I’ll say this one more time to clear any doubt about my views on this matter.

    I don’t think that China has no right to claim that the artifacts should be returned. It has a moral case, and it should now (if it does want them back and is not willing to buy them) press that with the French government or whoever now has jurisdiction over them. It was a fair idea to bring a legal action. It is in some respects a shame the action did not progress to judgment, as then there might have been a detailed analysis of the claim.

    But the case was thrown out. I see no evidence to believe that the French court acted improperly, even though many people here think that it was not fair. It has to apply the law as it stands, because it if did what it thought “fair” there would be no legal certainty, ever. That would be bad for everyone.

    Courts can attempt to apply the law in different ways, but that normally is down to current or recent events. In this case the claim is one from over a century ago (nearly a century and a half), judges can’t be expected to deal with something like that against established law. I believe there has been reference to an agreement/MoU between China and France on looted art, but such documents need to be backed up by legislation to have legal effect and be precise. Unless someone can produce specific French legislation on this point then I can’t see what the French court could realistically have done differently.

  110. perspectivehere Says:

    @Raj #109

    I don’t have a whole lot to disagree with what you’ve posted in #109. I especially agree with this statement: “It was a fair idea to bring a legal action. It is in some respects a shame the action did not progress to judgment, as then there might have been a detailed analysis of the claim.”

    I agree that it would have been enlightening to see the court’s rationale for dismissal, whether it was based on legal standing of the plaintiff, statute of limitations, or some other basis. This would help in understanding where legislative changes might be warranted, or inform litigation strategies in the future.

    “I believe there has been reference to an agreement/MoU between China and France on looted art, but such documents need to be backed up by legislation to have legal effect and be precise.”

    I’m not aware of any bilateral agreements between China and France (but I have not researched the matter so if others are aware please let us know) but readers here should note that the U.S. and China concluded a bilateral agreement last month wherein the U.S. agreed to impose import restrictions on various ancient Chinese cultural items.

    From LCCHP’s website:

    “On January 14, 2009, the United States and the People’s Republic of China entered into a bilateral agreement, imposing import restrictions on undocumented archaeological materials that belong to certain designated categories. The archaeological materials subject to import restriction represent China’s cultural heritage from the Paleolithic Period (beginning approximately 75,000 B.C.) through the end of the Tang Dynasty (907 A.D.) and monumental sculpture and wall art that is at least 250 years old. The designated categories of objects include bronze vessels, sculpture, coins, wall paintings, and objects of iron, gold, silver, bone, ivory, horn and shell, as well as silks, textiles, lacquer, bamboo, paper, wood, and glass.”

    http://www.culturalheritagelaw.org/advocacy/u-s-and-china-sign-agreement-imposing-import-restrictions-on-archaeological-materials-from-china/

    It appears the restrictions imposed by this agreement may cover the bronze heads if they were determined to be “monumental sculpture at least 250 years old”.

    From what appears to be the text of the order (issued by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of the Treasury):

    “b. Qing: Note that this section includes monumental sculpture at least 250 years old. Sculpture is an integral part of Qing Dynasty architecture. Bridges, archways, columns, staircases and terraces throughout China are decorated with reliefs.”

    http://www.culturalheritagelaw.org/advocacy/china-import-restrictions/import-restrictions-imposed-on-certain-archaeological-material-from-china

    If so, and if the buyer were planning to import them to the U.S., s/he might find him/herself stopped by the Department of Homeland Security, and the goods confiscated and returned to China.

    Certainly a different way for China to get them back!

  111. perspectivehere Says:

    @Raj #109

    You asked: “Are you alledging SKC has been “brainwashed”?”

    In a tongue-and-cheek way……yes. Most of us living in media-rich environments such as the developed countries are targets of sophisticated brainwashing techniques most of the time.

    Not in the Clockwork Orange -strap-in-the-chair kind of way (see http://people.howstuffworks.com/brainwashing.htm), mind you, but the less extreme forms of “influence and persuasion” – some of it by stealth and subliminally – that advertising experts (including those who work for political campaigns or seek political support) channel to us via the various media networks.

    For example, individuals such as Frank Luntz has achieved a measure of success as a consultant for politicians by using focus groups to identify words with particularly emotional effect, and building advertising or political campaigns around using such words so as to have subconscious/emotional influence.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Luntz
    http://www.yuricareport.com/Dominionism/LuntzPropagandistOfCentury.html

    All this is legal of course, but highly manipulative, so it is important to point it out when in happens, particularly when such techniques are in support of political untruths.

    Over the last 30 years in the U.S., there has grown up a Republican / right-wing media machine that has been highly successful in “brainwashing” an unsuspecting public in the guise of “fair-and-balanced” reporting. This phenomenon has been well-reported by commentators such as Al Franken (recently elected to the U.S. Senate in the State of Minnesota) in his scathingly funny (but also depressing) book “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them”

    http://www.amazon.com/Lies-Lying-Liars-Tell-Them/dp/0525947647

    Others are David Brock:
    http://www.amazon.com/Republican-Noise-Machine-Right-Wing-Democracy/product-reviews/1400048753?pageNumber=2

    http://www.amazon.com/Blinded-Right-Ex-Conservative-David-Brock/dp/0812930991

    Amy Goodman:
    “Brainwash?… Democracy Now Amy Goodman on Corporate Media”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q560s7cEv20

    Leaving aside politics, Derren Brown has made some videos showing the power of subliminal advertising:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyQjr1YL0zg
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f29kF1vZ62o

    Like most people, I don’t like being manipulated. One needs to question what one thinks because often these days, “conventional wisdom” may turn out merely to be something one has been manipulated to think by some organization that wants to sell something or get votes.

  112. perspectivehere Says:

    Sorry, in my post #111, I meant @Raj #108, not #109. Apologies for the incorrect reference.

  113. Raj Says:

    perspectivehere, it would be amusing if the artifacts were siezed at customs somewhere and then sent back to China. But I guess the new owner will make sure they can be moved without that happening. Still, you never know what will happen to them next.

    Although I will freely that admit that people in almost every country are open to some form of “manipulation” – even advertising counts – I would start from a default position that no one necessarily has been successfully manipulated (at least in a negative way). One might form a conclusion later about people, but I think SKC is open-minded and honest when his personal knowledge is limited.

  114. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To PerspectiveHere:
    I have a paltry understanding of the law because I’m not a lawyer. However, I don’t think you need to be a lawyer to understand the concept of judicial activism. So I don’t think my paltry understanding precludes the ability to grasp what judicial activism is, or to form an opinion thereof, even in the absence of brainwashing or subliminal programming.

    In general, I like elected officials to make law, and unelected but learned judges to interpret and apply them. I don’t dispute that judicial activism is required in certain, hopefully rare, cases. But I think our disagreement boils down to my opinion that, in this case, the threshold to me does not remotely come close to being met. If you feel otherwise, such is your purview. Hopefully you can acknowledge that I might disagree with you even in the absence of outside influence. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think the RNC is sending me a message through my TV.

  115. Shane9219 Says:

    Chinese bidder “won’t pay” for looted China bronzes

    http://www.reuters.com/article/artsNews/idUSTRE5210FM20090302

    Ha ha, this drama now has a very interesting twist.

  116. Steve Says:

    @ Shane9219: You’re not kidding! Fireworks should start shooting off tomorrow when the work week commences. Interesting twist is an understatement~ 😉

  117. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Yes, this should open up all sorts of ramifications. Whether the pieces should have been auctioned in the first place may have been a moral judgment; but not paying for what you bought, even with my paltry understanding of the law, would probably provoke some fairly tangible legal consequences. If this guy did this as an individual, those legal consequences might take on one form; but if he did so as a representative of this “fund”, then I think that’s a whole other can of worms.

  118. Shane9219 Says:

    Cai Mingchao is a well-known collector. He paid over HK$110M for a Ming Dynasty antique piece from a 2006 auction, and brought it back to China

    http://www.zaobao.com/photoweb/pages1/caimingchao090302.shtml

    厦门商人蔡铭超:曾以1.2亿港币拍下佛像
    2006年10月7日,香港苏富比秋季拍卖佛像专场诞生了一个拍卖世界记录——明代永乐鎏金铜释迦牟尼坐像以1.166亿港币的成交价,成为世界上最贵的中国佛教艺术品,而这尊佛像的买家就是来自厦门的蔡铭超。蔡铭超是在拍卖场上与众多国际大买家竞争、最终以创记录的价格将流失海外的国宝购回中国内地的第一人。

  119. Ted Says:

    @Shane9219 #115:

    Scandal! Well, after some negotiations, the lot should go to one of the two other bidders and the third fellow certainly won’t be buying at auction anytime soon. It would be interesting to know how this affects the estimates of high-end Chinese pieces going forward, the bidder who pulled out was certainly considered when setting the estimates for this auction.

    Good thing it wasn’t in person, the occasional fist fight still breaks out on the auction room floor.

  120. Ted Says:

    Another thought that may have hit this guy a little late. If the Chinese Government has just publicly stated it doesn’t want to buy looted artifacts then what’s the point in this guy buying these pieces and repatriating them to China. Why should he loose the money. His move wasn’t necessarily patriotic. After purchasing them he certainly can’t put them on display and he would likely be under alot of pressure to send them home once someone learned they were back in Chinese hands.

  121. Raj Says:

    If French auction rules are the same as here, the lot will be offered to the next higest bidder.

  122. Deluxe Says:

    @Raj #106
    Disclaimer: IANAL.
    Time limitations in french law are different according to the gravity (10 years for most crimes -murders, etc.-, 3 years for “delits” -thievery, etc.-).

    For what matters here, it seems that there was no law at all for repatriating of looted artifacts. Law for thievery could be used since sell of stolen goods is equally forbidden, but the thievery in question is far more than 3 years ago.
    France has signed 1995 UNIDROIT convention and it could be used to help for repatriating of recent illegal imported artifacts but this convention is not retroactive.

    It’s the best I can tell with my poor knowledge in law…

  123. Steve Says:

    Per this NY Times article in today’s paper:

    In the event of a winning bidder being unable or unwilling to pay, Ms. Malin said, the item in question does not automatically pass to the second-highest bidder. She said the auction house usually tries to reach a compromise solution between bidder and seller.

    She declined to say what might happen to the bronzes if Mr. Cai refused to pay.

    Ms. Malin said unsold pieces are rarely returned to the auction block right away because the notoriety and unwanted publicity usually diminish their value.

    “Sometimes the vendor takes the piece back home very happily,” she said.

    I can’t see any ‘compromise solution’ being reached in this situation so it’ll be interesting to see what actually occurs.

  124. Steve Says:

    So far in this thread, most of the comments, including my own, have been on China’s side in supporting the return of these artifacts to the Chinese people. But I’ve also noticed that some of the same people who believe it is fine for China to sell counterfeit goods in their markets “because they are a poor country” in violation of accepted international law, now want international law to support them in obtaining stolen antiquities. You can’t have it both ways.

    This morning in another NY Times article (in spite of what many here say, I like the NY Times online except when it comes to political issues where they’re pretty one sided) is an article about the Beijing Silk Street Market’s attempts to shut down vendors selling counterfeit merchandise. Pirated goods cost the original manufacturers approximately $2 billion per year in lost sales. Folks, that’s 2 BILLION! I have a hard time believing that it’s ok to abscond with 2 billion dollars of someone else’s product but not ok to abscond with someone else’s art treasures. If you are being consistent in your arguments, you ought to be against both situations.

    Now I’ve never bought any counterfeit luxury brands (my wife’s LV luggage is actually from LV) and still use a Timex Ironman Triathlon rather than a fake Rolex (I like all the built in electronic gizmos and actually use them), I must admit to the purchase of many illegal and counterfeit DVD movies. Guilty as charged, but I thought they were real at the time, I was drunk when I bought them, they came from a store and not a stall, the packaging certainly looked real, I thought one Chinese RMB equalled twenty American dollars, the devil made me do it. 😉

  125. Chops Says:

    “Gan Xuejun, general manager of Beijing Huachen Auctions Co. Ltd., said Cai’s method of foiling the auction was improper and he sacrificed his reputation as a well-known antiques collector.

    In China, bidders must pay a deposit before attending an auction. However, a deposit was unnecessary outside China and auctioneers usually accept reliable bidders, said Gan”

    http://www.isria.info/en/2_March_2009_33.htm

    Perhaps this is Cai’s way of bringing the case back to court, though this time the Chinese lawyers would have to defend him.

  126. TonyP4 Says:

    @ Steve #124.

    What happened to the Steve I know who never loses an argument? If you rape a lady and you argue that “I was drunk “, “the devil made me do it”, “she came from a fancy car”, “she looked like real prostitute and I gave her top US dollars”, you’re still guilty as charged. 🙂

    Do you expect Chinese folks with a salary of $300 US a month can spend $25 for a DVD or $2000 for a LV bag? We have double standards, don’t we. I rest my case. 🙂

    Steve, I do not care what the Chinese court punishes you, you’re still OK in my book.

  127. miaka9383 Says:

    @Tony
    If you don’t have the money to buy those things, then why buy them at all?
    I am strong proponent of if you can’t afford an LV bag, buy something else cheaper. With that said, I agree with Steve that if China wants protection from the international law then it needs to abide by all of them.
    Now now, I know what you are going to say “The West doesn’t follow international laws so why should we?”
    I don’t have an answer for that but I do know one thing… The West follows international law most of the time. And in some other circumstances, it could be interpreted as violating international law but it is up to interpretation by the courts and the lawyers

  128. Steve Says:

    Hey Tony, I DID say I was guilty as charged, but isn’t the argument always “there were extenuating circumstances”? OJ did worse that that and he still got off so maybe if I start doing Hertz commercials, I can get away with it. 😛

    Isn’t that the point, though? If you can’t afford to buy something, then just don’t buy it. And why should the Chinese be able to buy $1 DVDs when everyone else needs to spend $25? They should be like the rest of us and just download them with BitTorrent for $0 over the internet. 😉

  129. TonyP4 Says:

    Yes, I agree they should not buy stuffs they cannot afford. Do you blame them for improving their life styles while not hurting other (as they will not buy those expensive items)?

    Actually Sony thought of this long time ago. They divided the VCDs and DVDs into country zones. The DVDs cost far less in developing countries than developed countries. It does not work as other DVD players could read all zones and Sony’s DVD players were not selling.

    Again, practicality and idealism does not work together. I think greed is a human nature (a separate topic some day). You want the store owner to sell you a $10 toy for $1. The Chinese government required pre-installing Window to reduce bootleg of their product. Is it still working? Some may think Microsoft is a evil empire and be fought against with same treatment.

    We had gifts of a lot of fake LV hand bags. After knowing the custom would fine folks for that (more enforcement in Europe), we just left them in the airport – hope they’re not be regarded as bombs. 🙂

    Some one gave me a fake $10 Rolex watch. After a $10 battery, it died in the first month. My $50 watch is running for over 5 years. I hate to replace the broken band for $15. The quartz watch may be more accurate than a Rolex and it has calendar function. No one will steal or rob my watch and I am not upset if I scratch it or lose it.

  130. Steve Says:

    Ah Tony, I think you bring up a lot of great points. These are just my opinions on them…

    “Yes, I agree they should not buy stuffs they cannot afford. Do you blame them for improving their life styles while not hurting other (as they will not buy those expensive items)?”

    This is where I wonder about the true “lost value” of those items. Let’s say the counterfeit market sells 100,000 LV handbags for $40 each when the LV price would be $400 each. Is the true lost cost $4 million or $40 million? Or is the true lost cost $0 since the purchasers could not have afforded a LV handbag in the first place? But in what way have they improved their lifestyle? Why do they need a bag with little LV’s all over it and how is that an improvement? You can’t convince me they bought the bags without ever having heard of LV.

    “The Chinese government required pre-installing Window to reduce bootleg of their product. Is it still working? Some may think Microsoft is a evil empire and be fought against with same treatment.”

    My guess is that it HAS cut down on Windows theft, since people have received the real Windows and have access to all the new upgrades and fixes. If someone thinks Microsoft is an evil empire, why not fight them by buying an Apple computer or using a Linux operating system? That’s the best way to fight MS. By using a counterfeit, you’re actually encouraging a market for MS compatible software which keeps the brand popular.

    “Some one gave me a fake $10 Rolex watch. After a $10 battery, it died in the first month. My $50 watch is running for over 5 years. I hate to replace the broken band for $15. The quartz watch may be more accurate than a Rolex and it has calendar function. No one will steal or rob my watch and I am not upset if I scratch it or lose it.”

    So I guess the fake Rolex was not even worth $10. I’ve often wondered why someone would put a $5000 watch on their wrist for people to see, which is almost like waving $5000 in cash as you walk down the street. No one will mug me for my Timex.

    So if the buyers of fakes can’t afford the real product, what is the problem with selling it? Rolex isn’t losing business since they can’t afford the real thing anyway. The problem is that it cheapens the brand. Why should someone spend $5000 for a real Rolex if everyone seeing it on his/her wrist just assumes it’s a fake? That’s where the luxury brands are getting killed. That same rich person, rather than buying a LV handbag, buys a specialty brand that doesn’t have the worldwide reputation so they can stand out from the crowd of people carrying around the fakes. I mean, who would actually pay $5000 for a handbag from a practical point of view? No designer handbag is actually worth the money. It’s all about cache, status, etc. That’s LV’s market so their brand is irreparably damaged.

  131. TonyP4 Says:

    It is social class esp. for Chinese ladies. Some SH single ladies spend most of their income in hand bags, dresses and cosmetics. It is an investment for them.

    That’s why Victoria Secret is not successful in China as no ladies want to show off their under wears in public – shame on them. 🙂

    You cannot fight MS that way as :1. Apple could be viewed as another evil empire. 2. Some of my investment software only run on Window.

    No gold diggers would be attracted to your cheap watch.

    My wife always tells folks that she is keeping her real LV at home. Haha.

    Imitation is the best praise for any brand. Just want to say there is always opposite argument. 🙂

  132. Allen Says:

    It appears Cai will not pay any money for the two bronze items, setting up the stage for more legal wrangling.

    This is a controversial twist to a controversial story … with probably more drama to come….

    See, e.g., Xinhua story at http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-03/02/content_10927266.htm.

    See, e.g., BBC story at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7918128.stm.

  133. Steve Says:

    @ TonyP4 #131: Gee Tony, how come when I was in China, the men would walk around the street in their pajamas but the women didn’t show off their Victoria’s Secret lingerie?? 😛

    At least Apple will be viewed as a “cool” evil empire while MS is a dowdy one. And you can delete your investment software, since all your investments are now worthless.

    I guess my cheap watch was “golddigger repellent”, ha ha.

    Does your wife also have a bumper sticker that says “My other car is a Lamborghini?”

    You are right, there is always an opposite argument. In this case is imitation cheap praise? 😉

  134. TonyP4 Says:

    Steve, everyone is a comedian. No, my wife does not have that sign. But, the sign on her is “My other wife is Paris Hilton.”:)

  135. Shane9219 Says:

    Okay, we can consider the different perspectives from three parties: Christie’s, the seller and the winning bidder.

    1. Christie auction house has a difficult decision to make, to scrap this deal and take a large potential lose, or to sue to recover.

    2. The seller, Mr. Berge, is a loser too. But he said he is happy to take those items home and put somewhere, as in the case of the other Picaso painting.

    3. The winning bidder, Mr. Cai, he can claim that he can NOT receive those items personally because China’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage has placed a tight sanntion on Christie’s activities in China, since those two items are considered looted antique pieces by the state.

    To Mr. Cai, he did it for his country with an unconventional method, so he is a big hero to most Chinese now.

  136. Steve Says:

    @ Shane9219: I agree with all three of your points. I expect Christie to take the loss so they can maintain a good future relationship with China. I expect Berge to hold on to the heads for a couple of years and then resell. I expect Mr. Cai will be blackballed from future bidding in any of the major auction houses, but he can always use a proxy bidder if he really wants to acquire any items. I agree he was the one who stuck his neck out the most and deserves most of the praise.

    Ted, is that how it works? Can he use a proxy bidder in the future or are there ways for the auction houses to prevent it?

  137. Shane9219 Says:

    Mr. Cai has to forfeit his deposit. That is quite large, I think.

  138. Shane9219 Says:

    Victor Hugo on the pillaging of the Old Summer Palace

    “You ask my opinion, Sir, about the China expedition. You consider this expedition to be honorable and glorious, and you have the kindness to attach some consideration to my feelings; according to you, the China expedition, carried out jointly under the flags of Queen Victoria and the Emperor Napoleon, is a glory to be shared between France and England, and you wish to know how much approval I feel I can give to this English and French victory.

    Since you wish to know my opinion, here it is:
    There was, in a corner of the world, a wonder of the world; this wonder was called the Summer Palace. Art has two principles, the Idea, which produces European art, and the Chimera, which produces oriental art. The Summer Palace was to chimerical art what the Parthenon is to ideal art. All that can be begotten of the imagination of an almost extra-human people was there. It was not a single, unique work like the Parthenon. It was a kind of enormous model of the chimera, if the chimera can have a model. Imagine some inexpressible construction, something like a lunar building, and you will have the Summer Palace. Build a dream with marble, jade, bronze and porcelain, frame it with cedar wood, cover it with precious stones, drape it with silk, make it here a sanctuary, there a harem, elsewhere a citadel, put gods there, and monsters, varnish it, enamel it, gild it, paint it, have architects who are poets build the thousand and one dreams of the thousand and one nights, add gardens, basins, gushing water and foam, swans, ibis, peacocks, suppose in a word a sort of dazzling cavern of human fantasy with the face of a temple and palace, such was this building. The slow work of generations had been necessary to create it. This edifice, as enormous as a city, had been built by the centuries, for whom? For the peoples. For the work of time belongs to man. Artists, poets and philosophers knew the Summer Palace; Voltaire talks of it. People spoke of the Parthenon in Greece, the pyramids in Egypt, the Coliseum in Rome, Notre-Dame in Paris, the Summer Palace in the Orient. If people did not see it they imagined it. It was a kind of tremendous unknown masterpiece, glimpsed from the distance in a kind of twilight, like a silhouette of the civilization of Asia on the horizon of the civilization of Europe.

    This wonder has disappeared.
    One day two bandits entered the Summer Palace. One plundered, the other burned. Victory can be a thieving woman, or so it seems. The devastation of the Summer Palace was accomplished by the two victors acting jointly. Mixed up in all this is the name of Elgin, which inevitably calls to mind the Parthenon. What was done to the Parthenon was done to the Summer Palace, more thoroughly and better, so that nothing of it should be left. All the treasures of all our cathedrals put together could not equal this formidable and splendid museum of the Orient. It contained not only masterpieces of art, but masses of jewelry. What a great exploit, what a windfall! One of the two victors filled his pockets; when the other saw this he filled his coffers. And back they came to Europe, arm in arm, laughing away. Such is the story of the two bandits.

    We Europeans are the civilized ones, and for us the Chinese are the barbarians. This is what civilization has done to barbarism.

    Before history, one of the two bandits will be called France; the other will be called England. But I protest, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity! the crimes of those who lead are not the fault of those who are led; Governments are sometimes bandits, peoples never.

    The French empire has pocketed half of this victory, and today with a kind of proprietorial naivety it displays the splendid bric-a-brac of the Summer Palace. I hope that a day will come when France, delivered and cleansed, will return this booty to despoiled China.

    Meanwhile, there is a theft and two thieves.
    I take note.
    This, Sir, is how much approval I give to the China expedition.”

    Signed,
    Victor Hugo ”

    Link: http://washingtonbureau.typepad.com/china/2009/03/victor-hugos-popularity-in-china.html

  139. Shane9219 Says:

    The burning of Old Summar Palace was ordered by Lord Elgin. His father looted Greece and took home what is now called Elgrin Marbles.

    Another historical figure was “Chinese Gordon”. He later even commanded Qing’s army, and went on to become the ruler of Sudan (yes, Sudan), but eventually got killed by the locals.

    http://www.sacu.org/chinesegordon.html

  140. Ted Says:

    @Steve #136: Sure he can use a proxy but I’m guessing that before he made this move he decided to step away from the (international) auction world. There’s a tremendous amount of trust exchanged at that level, to allow him to call in that day and bid…

  141. Steve Says:

    @ Shane #137 & Ted #140: I thought I read somewhere that in this auction, you supplied a personal income statement but there were no deposits. Shane, are you sure he deposited money? I think it varies from country to country. Ted, would you know?

  142. William Huang Says:

    @ Raj #106

    You said:
    “That is a baseless accusation and in bad faith. Of course that’s a standard debating technique I come across – label someone as “anti-Chinese”. Does it add anything to the discussion? No. Leave the playground antics where they belong, please.”

    – I was making a summary of your post on #95. I only said your post in #95 is against Chinese interest without a good reason (which you failed to offer any compelling arguments). I will be more than glad to hear from you about Chinese otherwise.

    You said:
    “Please do not put words in my mouth – I did not say that. The allegation/implication was that French law is unclear. I was saying that needs to back that up with evidence.”

    – Of course you did not say that but you meant it. Perspectivehere #89 which your post (#95) was responding to never alleged French law being unclear. He only said that law and legal principles are subject to interpretation which is commonly acknowledged facts. The evidence is overwhelming.

    You said:
    “I think you don’t understand the way the law works either. There need not be anyone who has existing “original rights”. You’re addressing a moral concept, not a legal one.”

    – China can have both moral and legal right at the same time. Moral right and legal right don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I am sure you knwo that. You insist that China only has moral argument and yet, you provide no argument about why China doesn’t have the legal right.

    You said:
    “Do you know the limitation period in French law, or are you wishing one that there isn’t one? I do not know the precise length, but limitation periods are normal in most countries. Now if you wish to maintain that it is more likely than not that France has a limitation period of over a century, please do. But I don’t agree. Perhaps our French friend could find out for us.”

    – I didn’t make any claim about the limitation in French law. It is you who are making that claim (in #95). As to your statement about limitation periods are normal in most countries. This is not true either. It really depends. For example, in many countries, there is no statue of limitation on murder.

    You said:
    “An argument over the return of stolen goods from over a century ago is political, yes.”

    – A real “revolutionary” concept!

    You said:
    “Why? Because I suggest he find out whether his partner is talking from experience or presumption? If she has first-hand experience of something, great – she has insights he can’t have. If she’s using second-hand information, he has as much right to his views as she does.”

    – First of all, in post #95, you were telling Deluxe to tell his girl friend to shut up and this is very rude. Second, if what you wrote above is your justification for being rude, whatever cause that you are devoted to isn’t worth sh!t. You certainly have no idea what the words like respect and decency mean. You really believe you can get away with this kind of kindergarten BS?

    Now, back to your original complain – accusing me of labeling you as anti-Chinese (which I never did). Here, your unprovoked out-burst on the simple innocent mentioning about Tibet demonstrated that you actually are and by your very own action. Congratulations! You just have shown your true face.

  143. Ted Says:

    @Steve & Shane: A letter of credit was the only thing required by Sotheby’s when I worked there. To register on the day of the sale for something this big the way he did requires trust and a good reputation.

    Notice people are asking if he registered on behalf of the foundation, he would have foundation accounts and personal accounts. I haven’t read anything on his personal wealth but I assume that for something this big he would have had to register on behalf of the organization.

    I think Christie’s will have to file some kind of lawsuit. They may wait for a while but it would set an awful precedent to do nothing.

    BTW, you can get a vintage Shanghai Shoubiao Chang wristwatch for about 100 RMB (probably less than that but I’m terrible at bargaining). Why buy a fake Patek Philippe when you can get a nice looking homegrown brand for less? 🙂

  144. Raj Says:

    @ 142

    I was making a summary of your post on #95. I only said your post in #95 is against Chinese interest without a good reason (which you failed to offer any compelling arguments).

    How was it “self-serving”? I’m not French, an employee of the auction house, someone who buys/sells these sorts of items, etc.

    He only said that law and legal principles are subject to interpretation which is commonly acknowledged facts. The evidence is overwhelming.

    Law CAN be subject to interpretation. It depends on the law itself.

    China can have both moral and legal right at the same time.

    You didn’t say that – you asked that if China doesn’t have “original rights”, who did. I responded that no one needs to have that sort of claim to any item. It is sufficient for the possessor to have the legal right to them.

    You insist that China only has moral argument and yet, you provide no argument about why China doesn’t have the legal right.

    I’ve already said that it is virtually certain that the limitation period for claiming will have expired. Deluxe’s research suggested that was the case, or at least that he couldn’t find anything to say otherwise.

    As to your statement about limitation periods are normal in most countries. This is not true either. It really depends. For example, in many countries, there is no statue of limitation on murder.

    I was talking about a limitation period for a civil claim.

    you were telling Deluxe to tell his girl friend to shut up and this is very rude

    Oh lighten up. I wasn’t giving him detailed instructions as what to say, it was a short way of indicating that he should tell her not to lecture him.

    Here, your unprovoked out-burst on the simple innocent mentioning about Tibet demonstrated that you actually are and by your very own action.

    You said “…..with obvious bias against Chinese interest for no good reason”. Now perhaps you didn’t mean to imply I was anti-Chinese, but are you so confident of your perfect English that you cannot believe anyone might take that as meaning something else? You also called me self-serving, which is a nasty comment. Did you consider someone might get defensive because of that?

    If you had said there had been a misunderstanding I would have accepted that immediately, but to then say I’m anti-Chinese because I suggest a Frenchman should probe the knowledge of his Chinese partner on an issue is ridiculous. You started with the insults, not me. Now should I think of some unpleasant terms to throw your way and brand you as being “X”, or can we discuss this like adults and not judge each other?

  145. Raj Says:

    Ted

    I think Christie’s will have to file some kind of lawsuit. They may wait for a while but it would set an awful precedent to do nothing.

    Initiating legal action would be bad press, unless the entire auction collapses because for one reason or another they can’t get the other bidders to agree to buy them. Much better to move on and just bar him from future auctions – other auction houses might do the same.

  146. Chops Says:

    Next thing you know, the relics will be on eBay!

    “eBay auction ends at almost $10M”
    http://www.cnn.com/2007/AUTOS/05/04/general_lee_ebay_record/index.html

  147. Ted Says:

    @Raj #145: I agree about the bad press, and I’m not suggesting anything immediate or even large scale. If the lot does sell to another bidder then maybe Christie’s can sue for damages relating to the commission from the incremental bids above the final sale amount, nothing major. Cases like this will have to be pursued eventually. I’m just suggesting something should go in the books.

  148. Steve Says:

    Some key paragraphs from a NY Times article this morning:

    “Pierre Bergé was exercising his legal rights to sell them,” Mr. Dolman said. “We had a number of interested buyers who bid to significant levels.” The next-highest bid for each bronze was around $17 million.

    Months earlier, Mr. Dolman pointed out, Christie’s privately offered the heads to the Chinese government at a price “significantly less than the underbidder was willing to pay” on Wednesday. “They rejected the offer because they thought the price was too high,” he said.

    Kate Malin, a spokeswoman for Christie’s in Hong Kong, said all potential bidders at major auctions were required to submit bank and credit information as part of a registration process.

    “You can’t just call up and say, ‘I want to buy a $20 million Picasso,’ ” she said. “You have to provide satisfactory credit and bank information.”

    Mr. Bergé could have asked Christie’s to approach the bidders who were outbid at the auction and to sell the bronzes privately. But he told France-Info radio that he would keep them if Mr. Cai did not pay, The Associated Press reported.

    Mr. Dolman, when asked if Mr. Cai would be allowed to take part in future Christie’s auctions, said: “He certainly won’t be allowed to bid if it is determined that this was a deliberate act to spoil the auction. Then he has acted unlawfully.”

  149. miaka9383 Says:

    Here is a random information that came out of all of this events:
    I was reading a blogger named Dr. Bear on Ifeng and he pointed out something about China vs West, and that is the CCP and the Chinese are easily “hurt”.
    He pointed out in his blog article that there are plenty of Chinese artifacts that are far more valuable that needs to be retrieved than these bronze heads. If CCP and the Chinese protest and cries out every 3 days about Chinese artifacts then there would be outcries everyday. And it will numb the West to the Chinese opinions because they get upset at “EVERYTHING”. -paraphrase of the blog article which is here “http://blog.ifeng.com/article/2264617.html”

    I personally saw this auction as a way that Chinese (no matter how the artifact came about) can participate in creating a precedent in contributing to Charity. From the Siquan Earthquake to other events, Taiwanese and Foreign monetary contribution to the rebuilding cause was far more than the Wealthy in China. By participating in this auction, it can show that they will contribute to the cause of AIDS. Of course they raised money for other cultural non profit organizations, but we should all raise money to help out AIDS victims and the research. I wish Wealthy Chinese and the CCP would participate in activities such as raising money and make contribution towards global problems. Show that they are a world leader and not a follower/ “cry baby”

  150. Deluxe Says:

    @Raj #142
    To close the discussion about my girlfriend…

    First of all, I didn’t react to your post because I think indeed that your comment was very rude (if not in its idea, in its expression). I do not tell my girlfriend to shut up. If I disagree, there are more gentle ways to express my opinion.

    And I’ve never said or imply that she lectures me. We had a cool, instructive discussion. She doesn’t say that she knows much about Tibet. She points out that I was claiming support for Tibet but I didn’t know anything (and by the way less than her). It’s in fact true so -I decide- (as in -I take the choice-) to shup up.

  151. Steve Says:

    @ Deluxe #150:

    “It’s in fact true so -I decide- (as in -I take the choice-) to shut up.”

    You are one smart guy. 😛

  152. huaren Says:

    @Raj, #144,

    “How was it “self-serving”? I’m not French, an employee of the auction house, someone who buys/sells these sorts of items, etc.”

    So, what ARE you?

    @miaka9383, #149

    Your family is imoral because you never donated anything to charity. All you do is to burden other citizens of the country for which you live in.

    (remaining comment Deleted for profanity and personal insults)

  153. Raj Says:

    Deluxe

    I didn’t mean to offend – sorry. However, you can also read up more on Tibet if you are interested in it. There’s a good, recent article in the Economist.

    huaren

    So, what ARE you?

    A non-Frenchman who doesn’t work in an auction house and doesn’t buy/sell artifacts?

  154. miaka9383 Says:

    @Huaren
    If that is what you think, then I am dying of laughter.

    But if you have no intellectual comment towards my donating to charity, then shut it. Because a big government should show interest to humanity in general. A World leader shoud show interest in Humanity. This is the first and last time I will address your sarcastic remarks unless you have anything worth of value to read.

  155. Allen Says:

    @Deluxe,

    Not to sound the alarm – but I thought that economist article was biased to the hilt.

    Anyways – as I’ve told Steve before, on the topic of Tibet, you need to study with an open mind and learn to triangulate from multiple, often contradictory sources. Most Western materials are biased, as I am sure many Chinese materials are also biased.

    This site has some links to many Western materials that you may find interesting.

    Of course – when you get the chance – go visit Tibet and other parts of China yourself!

  156. Steve Says:

    @ Allen: I’ve been reading several articles about Tibet in different publications lately and it’s all been pretty much the same story. Because they are not allowed to get inside Tibet, they’re doing the standard reporting method and getting quotes from the government, the TGIE and whoever they can reach living in the area, taking down those comments over the phone or the net. Because they cannot be there physically, none of it is “first hand” reporting so I don’t think you can blame them for being biased.

    Let’s put it another way. You’re going to take a holiday to a foreign and exotic country so since you’re a good traveler, you study up on the culture, the food, the best sites to visit, read the history, rent videos, etc. You think you have it all figured out.

    Then you actually go there and though your background study comes in very handy, you quickly realize it was not what you had envisioned. Not that it is better or worse, just different. You had to BE THERE in order to get a true feel for the situation.

    It’s the same for reporters. If they cannot see it themselves, they have to rely not only on “sources”, but also their pre-conceived ideas of the place. In the case of Tibet, that might include what you’d call a “perception” of previous repression. There is only one way that can be removed, and that is for them to be allowed to report on site. The government bars them, so isn’t it the government that is unwittingly distorting the reportage?

    When you can’t be an eyewitness, you are bound to present “both sides” of a story using several sources. I’ve seen them do this, but if they were allowed to be there they would only have to present what they actually see. Some might still be rather one sided, but others might keep the reporting very factual. When reporters have been allowed in Tibet, it’s been with tightly controlled and monitored government tours. They can’t talk to anyone or wander outside the tour guidelines. That’s not going to generate positive stories since it looks like the government is hiding something.

    Regardless of whether they trust reporters or not, they can’t do any worse they they currently are in terms of spinning the story. And Deluxe can’t visit Tibet until the authorities allow him in, so your suggestion has no practical value until they do. Until China’s policy changes, there will continue to be contradictory stories depending on whether we’re reading Xinhua, the NY Times or the TGIE reports. The only body that can break this impasse is the CPC.

    BTW, I agree with your remark about learning from ALL sources and to never be reliant on one. That’s the first rule in the study of history; hear different viewpoints and then read the original documents and visit the historical sites to discover for yourself.

  157. huaren Says:

    @Raj, #153

    For example, if you are with “Free Tibet Campaign”, why wouldn’t you simply come out and say it?

    I simply do not believe an impartial 3rd party bystander would come and invest time in a forum such as this.

  158. huaren Says:

    @miaka9383
    “If that is what you think, then I am dying of laughter.”

    (remaining comment Deleted for personal insults)

  159. Allen Says:

    @Steve #156 – you are probably right that banning foreign journalists does not help.

    As for foreign tourists – I don’t think they are banned (one of my friends works in the travel agency business and knows tours are routinely booked). There might be restrictions this next few of weeks – in light of potential unrest – similar to restrictions in the lead up to the Olympics – but if people want to travel to Tibet and start planning today – you should have no problem taking a trip there.

  160. Steve Says:

    @ Allen: After reading Back to Lhasa that you helped translate, I’d love to wander around Tibet, not just meeting the Tibetans but also the people who have worked their way into the culture and are accepted by the Tibetan locals. bt would be in seventh heaven (I guess at that altitude, you’re within touching distance of heaven, ha ha) with as much as he knows about the area.

    I tried to find out what the current travel restrictions are for foreigners, but I was unable to come up with anything definite. I’m hoping it completely frees up after these holidays.

  161. William Huang Says:

    @ Raj #144

    “How was it “self-serving”? I’m not French, an employee of the auction house, someone who buys/sells these sorts of items, etc.”

    – Okay, you got a point here. It was un-called for and I apologize.

    “Law CAN be subject to interpretation. It depends on the law itself.”

    – It’s one thing for a specific part of law that’s subject to wide interpretation while another one being very narrow. But in any case, the law is put into practices and enforced by human beings. Human beings being human beings, there will always be some degree of interpretations no matter how narrow it is.

    “I’ve already said that it is virtually certain that the limitation period for claiming will have expired. Deluxe’s research suggested that was the case, or at least that he couldn’t find anything to say otherwise.”

    – How long is considered “virtually certain”? As to perspectivehere’s original point, French has no problem to claim the art treasures looted during WWII (which I think they entitled to). Considering French are just and fair-minded people, especially being victim once themselves, the French law won’t be so strict on the limitation of the law with respect to looted art treasures. I don’t claim that I know the French law but the protection of property ownership has been a long Western tradition and considered sacred. Even though art treasures rooting prior to WWII happened over 70 years ago but the activities of returning them to their rightful owners are still on-going.

    For example, the famous “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” by Austrian painter Klimt has returned to its rightful owner after nearly 70 years (rooted by Nazi). Klimt’s paintings are considered national treasures by Austrian people but Austrian court ruled in favor of the private owner (a US citizen) against the Austrian government (State Gallery).

    “Oh lighten up. I wasn’t giving him detailed instructions as what to say, it was a short way of indicating that he should tell her not to lecture him.”

    – When did Deluxe ever mention being lectured by anybody? All Deluxe said in his post #91 was that he discussed Tibet issue with his girl friend and he draw the conclusion based his search. You insinuated into something else and then responded with a rude comments. If anyone has given Deluxe a lecture, it would have been you. Isn’ it?

    “If you had said there had been a misunderstanding I would have accepted that immediately, but to then say I’m anti-Chinese because I suggest a Frenchman should probe the knowledge of his Chinese partner on an issue is ridiculous. You started with the insults, not me. Now should I think of some unpleasant terms to throw your way and brand you as being “X”, or can we discuss this like adults and not judge each other?”

    – I have no intention of brand you anything. You brought in the term “Anti-Chinese” not me. I only wish to label your point of view as biased against China but not you as a person. Let me know elaborate where I came from:

    I don’t see any rational justification for the way you responded to Delxue. I can understand that when the discussion and debate heats up, people can say things that are harsh and confrontational. I won’t have any issue at all. But all Delxue did was sharing his personal experiences and he wasn’t even debating anything with anyone. I have two choices; one, I can assume that you are rather presumptuous and condescending or two, you are simply emotional every time someone mentioned word, Tibet. I chose the latter. So to me, you are a Brit who, for whatever the reason, concerned passionately about Tibetans in China. That’s all very good and nice. But if you want me to respect your view on Tibet, you should at least respect Deluxe’s.

  162. Chops Says:

    Seems like Cai really intended to buy the bronze heads.

    “THE Chinese antiques collector who submitted the winning bid in a Paris auction for two looted bronze animal heads and refused to pay issued a new statement yesterday that called into question what he told reporters the day before.

    Cai Mingchao, the winning bidder, said yesterday that the bronzes were not allowed to enter China because of a regulation issued a day after the auction by China’s cultural relics administration. As a result, the payment should not be made, Cai said in a statement released by China’s National Treasure Fund, for which he is a collection adviser.”

    http://www.shanghaidaily.com/article/print.asp?id=393046

  163. Allen Says:

    @Chops #162,

    Yes – I suppose it’d be interesting now to speculate whether Cai had premeditated on doing this all along – or whether the Chinese gov’t later convinced him to sing this tune after he had in good faith made the purchase in the first place…

  164. William Huang Says:

    @ miaka9383 #149

    “If CCP and the Chinese protest and cries out every 3 days about Chinese artifacts then there would be outcries everyday. And it will numb the West to the Chinese opinions because they get upset at “EVERYTHING”.”

    Are these your personal views or the author on that blog? I couldn’t find remotely close to what you said here on the blog that you are referring to. Who is crying about Chinese artifacts every 3 days? Can you be more specific?

    “From the Siquan Earthquake to other events, Taiwanese and Foreign monetary contribution to the rebuilding cause was far more than the Wealthy in China.”

    – Do you have specific data related to what Chinese donation vs. Taiwan donation or Foreign aids or it is just your perception?

  165. Shane9219 Says:

    @miaka9383 #149

    Those “cry baby” statement are both misplaced and wishful thinking.

    What is true is that West countries (including Japan) need to collectively rethink their colonial past, come forward and clean themselves, and in the process, build a new foundation for their relationships with the East, culturally, economically and politically.

    Until at the turn of 21th century, did the people in US rethink collectively about their past acts on native Indians and African slavery.

    Until the past several years, did the people in Japan start to rethink collectively about their past acts on China and other parts of Asia. And that process is still on-going. If you need refresh your memory on the Rape of Nanking, I would recommed this DVD to you.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000CETW4Y/ref=ase_brainmindcom01/104-1250980-6001552?s=video%22%3E&v=glance&n=130&tagActionCode=brainmindcom01

    To most western people, the colonial past happened generations ago. They are ready, willfully, to look the other way. Meanwhile, they invent all sorts of post modern tools, ideological and economical, to further their leverage on the developing nations.

    History, to many Chinese, has thousands years of memory. A century or two is their recent past.

  166. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To William #142:
    “You insist that China only has moral argument and yet, you provide no argument about why China doesn’t have the legal right.”- this may be a point of law, and you already know I’m not a lawyer, much less a French one, so I’m just asking the question. But is it China’s responsibility to show that she has legal standing in French court, or is it France’s responsibility to show that China doesn’t? I would have thought it to be the former. Perhaps Deluxe or one of the lawyer types around here can answer that.

    To Ted #143:
    the reason why I wondered if this guy represented himself or his foundation boils down to liability. Sounds like he’s personally filthy rich, so the distinction may be less acute. But if he represented himself as the buyer, the auction house could only sue him personally for damages. However, if he represented the foundation, then I imagine the foundation’s assets might also be in play in any lawsuit. The actual damages would probably be the same (ie. whatever Christie’s lost from a sale falling through); but the punitive damages may be quite different for an individual vs a foundation (especially one with deep pockets). And let’s face it, bidding at an auction with no intent to pay up might warrant some punitive measures.

    To Huaren:
    congrats on getting 2 posts deleted within 2.5 hours. That must be some sort of dubious record on this blog. Are there only 2 types of people in the world: full on CCP, or charter members of the Free Tibet Campaign? Is it so hard to conceive that some people might wish more rights for Tibetans, because it’s the moral thing to do? Are morals more important when it comes to the disposition of a couple of bronze heads, or when it comes to dealing with a people?

    To Allen #159:
    I read in a newspaper (yes, one of those “western” ones) that all tours to Tibet are canceled for the next few weeks, but that it was a temporary edict.

  167. Shane9219 Says:

    “History, to many Chinese, has thousands years of memory. A century or two is their recent past.”

    It’s obvious that history puts an extreme heavy burden on many Chinese, collectively both as a people and a nation. Not only, have to face their collective historical pain and humiliation, they are dealing with mulitple issues in their current-day struggle as the result of that colonial past, and those issues will certainly become future-day problems.

    The so-called Tibet issue, HongKong, Macau and all those territorial disputes have the same root.

    For those willfully put up “human rights” Tibet flag, you need know that the lives of most Tibetan population are way better off than their lives 50 years ago, excluding DL certainly.

  168. Wukailong Says:

    @Shane9219: “For those willfully put up “human rights” Tibet flag, you need know that the lives of most Tibetan population are way better off than their lives 50 years ago, excluding DL certainly.”

    I hate to point this out, but that’s true for Hongkong and Macao too. Does that justify British and Portuguese colonialism?

  169. William Huang Says:

    @ S.K. Cheung #166

    ““You insist that China only has moral argument and yet, you provide no argument about why China doesn’t have the legal right.”- this may be a point of law, and you already know I’m not a lawyer, much less a French one, so I’m just asking the question. But is it China’s responsibility to show that she has legal standing in French court, or is it France’s responsibility to show that China doesn’t? I would have thought it to be the former. Perhaps Deluxe or one of the lawyer types around here can answer that.”

    I am not lawyer either and I don’t know the nuts and bolts of the legal details in French court. However, I will be surprised that in a French civil court, the plaintiff alone carries all the burden of prove. The origin of the artifacts is self-evidence, otherwise it won’t be worth much. The only thing left to argue is what French law covers the stolen goods originated from outside of its jurisdiction and to what extent, in addition to what law intends to protect its citizen against outside interest?

    By the end of day, common sense and justice has to prevail if we want to live on this planet peacefully. What should we do if someone stole “Mona Lisa” from Louvre and sold it to someone else in China? Is it France’s responsibility to prove their legal right or China’s responsibility to prove otherwise? It’s in China now and its leagl status must comply to the law in China. What happens if the stature of limitation in China has run out? Will people who supported French court decision today also support Chinese court decision if it ruled in favor of Chinese owner?

    Like they said, what goes around comes around.

  170. miaka9383 Says:

    @William
    Here is the link to the blog article it is at the very bottom…..
    And I said I paraphrased it.. and that is how I interpreted “所以,我们更需要倾听多样的声音。我想借此也说几句让我们可以稍稍冷静的话,像这些年来的许多事件一样,民族情感始终是一个牵扯神经的话题,个中原因,大约与我们曾经饱尝屈辱,现又正经历重新的崛起有关。民族情感高涨能聚集心气,增强国家行动能力,这当然是好事。但是,民族情感的表达在任何时候又都可能产生远比我们所愿意得到和看到的更为复杂的效应,如果一任渲泄,当敛不敛,任凭每一件小事即引发怒海汹涌,那反可能形成从个人到集体到社会最后到国家的相互逼压,极大地压缩理性思考的空间,降低妥善处理历史与现实之复杂纠葛的能力。这样,从近处看将不利于政府的内政外交,从远处看则有损于公民的健康和社会文化氛围”

  171. Shane9219 Says:

    #168

    “I hate to point this out, but that’s true for Hongkong and Macao too. Does that justify British and Portuguese colonialism?”

    Sounds like you asked a confusing question. The real question you implied still is whether Tibet is part of China or not.

    Hell yes, Tibet has been part of China for hundreds of years! No question about that. It is simply not a moral question to China.

    There are well-known reasons why 14th DL is not currently in Tibet, and in part, caused by western colonial history.

    Still not convinced by some people, that is perfectly fine.

  172. Ted Says:

    @Chops: That’s disappointing. If it’s true about the new regulation from the Cultural Relics Administration then Cai or his organization could have simply said so and walked away from this with his reputation intact and minimum legal haggling. Christie’s is privately owned and they could have addressed this situation countless ways in the background without causing a fuss.

    Now that he’s not a patriotic activist, I see two possibilities.

    1)It’s all a conspiracy and the new regulation is meant to shield Cai and his foundation from prosecution and restore a bit of Cai’s reputation.

    2)Cai and the organization were unaware of the new rule but rather that holding on to the pieces and eventually reuniting them with their home, they falsely portray their actions as a patriotic, then cut and run.

    (note: my generally negative impression is a result of how they initially chose to handle the incident.)

    @S.K: Unless he’s a billionaire I think he would have to register on behalf of the organization. After the Shanghai Daily article Chops posted I don’t know what to think other than these guys should just disappear. It’ll be interesting to learn more about this new regulation from the Cultural Relics Administration.

  173. Shane9219 Says:

    @miaka9383 #170

    I disagree. For Chinese with various backgrounds, thinking collectively what means to be Chinese people and Chinese nation is quite important at this historical juncture. This searching process will put some burden on people’s heart and mind. But it is beneficial, even beneficial to many oversea Chinese who are brave enough to explore.

  174. Wukailong Says:

    Shane9219, I was not questioning that Tibet was part of China. What I questioned was the idea that there is no reason to criticize Chinese rule in Tibet because people’s livelihoods have improved.

    The latter is a perfect colonialist argument and can be used to justify the UK and Portugal occupying these territories.

  175. Allen Says:

    @Wukailong #168,

    You wrote:

    @Shane9219: “For those willfully put up “human rights” Tibet flag, you need know that the lives of most Tibetan population are way better off than their lives 50 years ago, excluding DL certainly.”

    I hate to point this out, but that’s true for Hongkong and Macao too. Does that justify British and Portuguese colonialism?

    I want to take the opportunity to clarify a point of misunderstanding that I see repeatedly between mainlanders and Westerners when discussing Tibet.

    One of the points a mainlander inevitably raise is how well the Tibetans are doing today compared to when DL was around.

    The Westerner inevitably raise the point that that is colonialist in attitude.

    Two points I want to make:

    1. As touched upon by shane9219 in #171, the Westerner is taking the mainlander’s point out of context. The point for the mainlander is not whether Tibet should be part of China. For mainlander, the fact that Tibet is part of China is indisputable. What the mainlander is trying to articulate is that the central gov’t has fulfilled its responsibility of governance. Just look at all the goodies the Chinese central gov’t is doing for the people of Tibet. The evidence is provided to show how the Chinese central gov’t cares about the development of all its people – including the Tibetans. Unfortunately, the Westerner misunderstands the argument as providing for Tibetans is somehow the Chinese justification for sovereignty over Tibet.

    As a point of comparison, when U.S. gov’t officials reel off statistics about how civil rights has improved (including pointing to election of a half-black president), the officials are talking about how the U.S. has progressed – how the U.S. gov’t has been fulfilling its responsibility as a government – not whether the U.S. has sovereignty over the black people. Sure some black nationalists may probably understand it that way, but fortunately, there are not a lot of them these days, thanks to the effort of leaders who preferred to focus on our common dreams (uniting) rather than our differences (being divisive) like MLK.

    2. Many mainlanders have become disillusioned by ideologies from the cultural revolution. For them, the proof of good and legitimate government lies only in how well it is able to provide for the people. The rest is fuzz.

    So for them, when they discuss with Westerners about Tibet, they inevitably try to articulate this point: stop being political for the sake of being political and look at the facts. Tibet today is undergoing unprecedented economic development and there are many programs aimed at active preservation of Tibet’s unique culture … but unfortunately, the Westerner does not appreciate this train of thinking and perseveres in seeing the DL as the loving father of all Tibetan people … and hence sees mainlander’s reference of progress as evidence of more colonialist attitude for justifying their imperial occupation of Tibet.

    I have no suggestion for Shane9219 – or Wahah, or others who have argued along this train of thought … but I just want to bring up what I see.

    I understand where you are coming from. But often people just keep on distorting and misunderstanding us…

    Sigh.

  176. Allen Says:

    @Wukailong #174,

    You wrote: “What I questioned was the idea that there is no reason to criticize Chinese rule in Tibet because people’s livelihoods have improved.”

    This is a good point. You can apply that question to the whole of China, too.

    I personally don’t think that improving people’s livelihood should be the only concern of governance. However, I do think it’s an important component.

    And in China’s case today – economic development – including the associated issues relating to environment preservation – might just be the most important.

  177. Wukailong Says:

    @Allen: I want to point out that there is no misunderstanding on my part – I know very well what mainlanders in general think because I live here, and work here, and have been staying here for quite some time. I understand the internal logic, but I’m trying to point out a problem in this line of reasoning, or another way of seeing it.

    I do not, like some people here do, propose some sort of referendum on Tibet and I am not advocating Tibetan independence. What I’m seeing is a problem of social contract that might be different between Tibetans (who do not share exactly the same history as the majority) and other Chinese, a conflict that has to be worked out in the future.

    If I make an argument that seems great for me and somebody else points out a flaw, possibly even a negative side-effect that I, in my inherent goodness, could not foresee, then that person is not necessarily distorting or misunderstanding. OK?

  178. Shane9219 Says:

    @Allen

    The obstacle to have a good understanding on Tibet are many. The opaque of facts is a major one. There is some major change of attitude in this year by many westerners and and reporting by western media. It is an encouraging sign.

    When Chinese rises up to defind China’s rightful ownership on Tibet, they do not mean Tibet is in a perfectly happy situation. Chinese government can be blamed by its failure to get historical facts out properly (the well-known PR problem). Many westerners should take the blame (rightly) of their willfulnese, as well as their deep-seated resentment toward China. In the end, it is going to be a period of adjustment to both sides.

  179. Allen Says:

    @Wukailong #177,

    Yes – I take back my word about distorting – which implies intent – and I don’t think you intended to distort the argument. I apologize for being quick of tongue….

  180. HongKonger Says:

    ” Many westerners should take the blame (rightly) of their willfulnese, as well as their deep-seated resentment toward China. ”

    Care to explain the reason(s) for their (UNprovoked by Chinese) deep-seated resentment????? What has the Chinese government done to the “West”???

  181. Allen Says:

    @Wukailong #177,

    About social contract in Tibet … I believe you are right.

    We’ll see how things play out. I agree mistakes have been made in the past. And I believe enlightened leadership will be needed to untangle the past.

    Whether the future involves the return of the DL – we will have to wait to see…

  182. Wukailong Says:

    @Shane9219 (#178): Believe it or not – I agree completely with what you just wrote. I’m often wondering what form the adjustment will take.

    @Allen (#176): “And in China’s case today – economic development – including the associated issues relating to environment preservation – might just be the most important.”

    I agree with that too, though there’s also the problems of large income disparities and legal protection. I generally believe the government is doing the right thing, and I’ve been impressed many times with its timing.

  183. Shane9219 Says:

    #175

    Tibet issue has become both fierce and furious since the beginning, so clarity on communication is very important. DL and West joined hand-in-hand to throw mud of all sorts to China: colonism, invasion, human rights, religion, resource exploitation, culture genocide. Whatever they want to call, China is not colonizing Tibet. What is true is the intention to pursue a separate Tibet nation by DL and the support of that idea by western crowds.

  184. Shane9219 Says:

    #180

    “Care to explain the reason(s) for their (UNprovoked by Chinese) deep-seated resentment????? What has the Chinese government done to the “West”???”

    There are multiple reasons I can think of, historical image of Chinese as a weak people and nation, West’s self-indulgence of superiority (cultural and ideological), hatred of PRC’s political system …

  185. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To William #169:
    “It’s in China now and its leagl status must comply to the law in China. What happens if the stature of limitation in China has run out? Will people who supported French court decision today also support Chinese court decision if it ruled in favor of Chinese owner?” – if the Mona Lisa is stolen today and surfaces in China tomorrow, I would say the decision would need to be governed by today’s laws in China and this Unidroit convention people have spoken of. If the Mona Lisa is stolen today, and disappears for 150 years then surfaces in China, and assuming that the statute of limitations, if any, in the convention has expired, then we would begin to have a parallel with the present scenario.

    Which brings me to another question. Were these pieces secretly kept in YSL’s collection, or was it open knowledge? If it was the latter, then why the brouhaha only upon them going to auction? Where was the moral indignation previously, or was it around the whole time and I just missed it?

    To Shane #167:
    “you need know that the lives of most Tibetan population are way better off than their lives 50 years ago” – I’ve heard that before. Let’s stipulate that to be true. Does that impact on whether Tibetans would prefer the status quo, as opposed to something else? In fact, if your point is true, you’d think they would happily maintain the status quo; that they MIGHT not want the status quo, to me, suggests that they may have yet-unmet priorities.

    To Allen #175:
    I think your point #1, which you and others may feel is indisputable, might be distinctly less so for others. Among those others, I suspect, would be the odd Tibetan.
    I wouldn’t say anyone is distorting or misunderstanding you, though your post is a good summary of perspectives. I would say that people just flat out disagree with you, yours truly included.

    To Shane #178:
    “The opaque of facts is a major one. ” – could not agree more.

  186. Steve Says:

    @ SKC, Allen, Shane, William Huang, Miaka, Hong Konger, Chops, Wukailong & Ted: I’d like to congratulate all of you for having a discussion about both Tibet and this whole legal issue that has remained civil, intelligent and enlightening, at least to me. It’s rare when that happens concerning this subject.

    I’d like to add a few thoughts and observations to the discussion and get your input…

    1. I’ve noticed that very few bloggers who favor greater autonomy for the Tibetan provinces desire or even bring up Tibetan independence, but I’ve noticed that whenever anyone might suggest that things aren’t as hunky dory in Tibet as the Chinese government suggests, this is always mentioned by the pro-CCP crowd. Sometimes “methinks thou dost protest too much”. Why are some of you so defensive about China’s historical status if no one is mentioning it? Does it really matter what the situation was 500 years ago? Doesn’t it matter what the situation is today?

    2. Shane, you mentioned something that caught my attention. You said, “History, to many Chinese, has thousands years of memory. A century or two is their recent past.” Ok, I’ll buy that. So I’d gather what that means is that China sees its history as being the work of millenia rather than a couple of centuries. If that is the case, why is “western exploitation” constantly brought up as causing a collective sense of shame when it only lasted about 100 years? According to the Chinese time frame, that is like a blink of an eye, isn’t it?

    3. Notice I used the term “western exploitation” rather than “western colonialism”? I used “western” because that is the word you chose, though it is a poor choice because we’re really just talking England and France here. I did not use “colonialism” because outside of Hong Kong, Macao and a couple of port concessions, there wasn’t any colonialism in China by European powers. The word “imperialism” doesn’t apply either. Those words describe nations that were actively run by foreign governments. China was never taken over by foreign governments, though she lost wars to them and was the victim of very unequal trade concessions. Was she exploited? Yes. Colonized? No. Was her government toppled and replaced by a foreign government? No. So let’s be careful about the language we use and not misrepresent the situation. China was certainly no India, Canada or the United States.

    Now let’s look at the word “colonized”, which has a different meaning. The Han Chinese of the Yellow River valley first colonized the Yangtze River valley and eventually colonized southern China. In history, whenever populations grow beyond the land’s ability to support them, there is always a mass migration of peoples. Are Han Chinese colonizing Tibetan and Xinjiang areas in recent times? Sure, but it’s not a dirty word. Those lands are sparsely populated and there are population pressures in the Han Chinese areas, so it makes sense to see population movements. Europeans colonized the North American continent. The British made India a part of her imperial empire but never really colonized her, since very few English settled there permanently. I side with our pro-CCP folks on this one. Tibetan culture will change regardless of whether Han Chinese move to Tibetan areas or not. A mix of peoples isn’t a bad thing; I think it’s actually a good thing. The key is that local Tibetans aren’t discriminated against because of their race, religion or ethnicity, and not subjected to segregation.

    4. Shane, you wrote “But it is beneficial, even beneficial to many oversea Chinese who are brave enough to explore.” I’m curious; what is your definition of an “overseas Chinese”? Is it a Chinese expat who is still a Chinese citizen? Or is it a citizen of another country who is Chinese by ancestry? I’ve never quite understood the meaning and hoped you could clear it up for me so I don’t misuse it. Thanks!

    5. Shane’s comment “For those willfully put up “human rights” Tibet flag, you need know that the lives of most Tibetan population are way better off than their lives 50 years ago, excluding DL certainly.” has been discussed in several posts. For me, the key measurement of a government’s success is when I ask the people in that country whether they are satisfied with that government’s progress and overall rule. My Han Chinese friends say that they are, so I don’t dispute their opinion.

    However, it’s not for Han Chinese to say whether Tibetans are satisfied with CCP rule for whatever reason. Only Tibetans can answer that question. It doesn’t matter what the economic statistics are. It doesn’t matter how much was invested and what infrastructure has been built. It only matters if the Tibetans themselves are satisfied with CCP rule. If they are, then I agree with Allen’s assessment. If not, then it doesn’t really matter what Allen or any non-Tibetan says, including expat TGIE members.

    If Tibetans are truly satisfied with the present government, they’d raise holy hell if anyone suggested that government be changed. If they are NOT satisfied, then the government is not addressing their real concerns. For me, those are the criteria by which the government should be judged. It’s no different than asking white government officials in the southern United States back in 1950 if they cared about African Americans and if African Americans were better off than in 1900. The answers to both questions were “yes”, yet I don’t think African Americans were very enamored with the US government back in 1950.

    6. Because China is trying to get back artifacts looted by others in the past, of course she’ll be in favor of treaties returning those treasures. It’s in her best interests to do so. But it is not in China’s best interests to enforce IP protection so she either does not or does it half-heartedly. When it is in her best interests to do so, she will. It is not in France’s best interests to return artifacts looted 150 years ago but if it was suddenly in her best interests to do so, she would change her policies. Welcome to International Law 101. Countries fight for what is in their best interests. Is anyone really surprised by France’s position? Saddened? Yes. Disappointed? Yes. Surprised? No.

    Right now it’s not a legal nor moral issue, it’s a diplomatic issue and I’m sure China is bringing pressure on the French government to change their laws. “You want to talk about that Airbus contract? First let’s talk about your artifacts laws.” When billions of dollars of modern aircraft representing thousands of jobs are measured against a few artifacts, the antique collectors lobby might realize how little influence they actually have.

  187. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Steve:
    awesome post, as usual. I’d say “as always”, but then I’ve learned to stay away from superlatives like “always” and “never” unless speaking of death or taxes. My guess is you’re neither. 🙂

  188. Steve Says:

    @ SKC: Thanks for the compliment! I’m neither death nor taxes, but I have been taxed to death. 😛

  189. Raj Says:

    huaren @ 157

    What can I say, I’m not a member of any pro-Tibet campaign. Sorry to disappoint you.

    ++++

    William @ 161

    Human beings being human beings, there will always be some degree of interpretations no matter how narrow it is.

    I don’t see what scope there could have been to intrepret French law in this case that would have helped the Chinese claim.

    How long is considered “virtually certain”?

    No, what I meant was that I am 99.9% certain that the limitation period for any claim has expired.

    Considering French are just and fair-minded people, especially being victim once themselves, the French law won’t be so strict on the limitation of the law with respect to looted art treasures… Even though art treasures rooting prior to WWII happened over 70 years ago but the activities of returning them to their rightful owners are still on-going.

    I believe that Germany has agreed to hand over all such looted items, either through acts of good-will or changes to the law that allow claims to be brought even now. This contrasts with, to my knowledge, no corresponding provision in French law to allow for items to be seized. Also with WWII items many will have disappeared and only recently resurfaced. Have these two heads been hidden until recently? I’m not sure, so just asking.

    You are right that if France can still claim objects from WWII it should consider returning items it has. But I don’t agree that the law can be interpreted or ignored just because the French may practice double-standards. The law needs to be changed first.

    But if you want me to respect your view on Tibet, you should at least respect Deluxe’s.

    If I didn’t respect his view, I wouldn’t have apologised to him. Of course I respect his views.

  190. TonyP4 Says:

    @Steve, #186.

    You take the words out of my mouth. After reading this post, I do not have better to contribute. I enjoy the day better as a humble student. Thanks!


    Hi Hongkonger, long time no see. Unless you’ve been in a cave without internet, you may have watched the video of the HK lady missing a flight. It is so funny that it inspired me to drop down many funny one-liners in http://tonyp4joke.blogspot.com/2009/02/lady-missing-flight.html.

  191. miaka9383 Says:

    @Shane
    Even on this topic there are different voices of Chinese from China. I tend to agree with the blogger that if we were protesting too much (i. e this artifact, another example he used was the German/American comedian poking fun at Chinese) then CCP and Chinese Citizens are oversensitive. Its good to fight injustice but it is not good to whine. I personally would like to see that survey he talks about in the blog article…..

    @Steve
    Thank you for the compliment. Whenever I am on a forum, I don’t like personal attacks, especially references to my family. The way I look at it, you can attack my opinions but don’t attack me as a person or my family. I try to ignore comments like that… the key word is I try because I do take those insults personally… but my boyfriend tells me… “Arguing with a person like that online is like being in a mental ward” implying that I was either crazy or retarded…So I just throw my opinion out there and if people choose to agree and disagree.. its their business…. I take the same attitude with Republicans…….(especially the religious conservative)

  192. Shane9219 Says:

    @miaka9383 #191

    “Its good to fight injustice but it is not good to whine”

    I suggest you not just look at things on the surface. It is a fundamental misunderstanding by the West that Chinese is just whining. They should realize that China can put actions on her words. Chinese nowadays speak with their strength.

    The global trend is such there will be certain profound changes in terms of the relation between West and East. The earlier the West realize this, the better. The rise of East will not fundamentally upset global peace, but there will be some deep adjustment to do.

    Factual exchange is always welcome, so do different opinions.

  193. Shane9219 Says:

    “China can put actions on her words. Chinese nowadays speak with their strength.”

    China has not only imposed a strict sanction on Christi’s, the talk to purchase 150 Airbus airplanes was reported being cancelled. That potential deal worths $10 billion.

    As good as what Mr. Li Zhaoxin said yesterday, Mr. Berge is hurting France’s interest and cultural tradition by putting up those items for auction.

    To me personally, I don’t see those broze items as national treasure, on the opposite, they represent a century of humiliation.

  194. miaka9383 Says:

    @Shane
    I think its good that China speak with Action.. I wholeheartedly agree with the steps that they have taken.
    But this plus other events (maybe it is a cultural difference) the Chinese citizen gets outraged very easily. Perhaps too easily. It like the current Russian incident, people cried foul before figuring out all of the facts.
    It is like we can’t joke about Chinese people, because it is “politically incorrect” to do so because it hurts Chinese’s feelings… For me, as long as it doesn’t have any racial slurs, I am fine with poking fun… (I constantly make racial jokes about all races including my own..) But that could be a difference in culture.
    Hence the whining comment. I mean soon we are not going to be able to make Blonde jokes because it hurts Blonde’s feelings..(if you get my meaning…I am not able to convey myself in a coherent manner lately)

    P.S. I apologize for all of the parens.. I have been programming in Scheme for days…and it is full of parens…

  195. Steve Says:

    @ miaka9383 & Shane: The Airbus (and Boeing) aircraft orders were already put on hold before the auction, so that wasn’t a direct result of the French judgement. However, that hold won’t last forever so it can still be used as leverage and probably will. Some sort of political deal can be worked out.

    Shane, I’ve got to side with Miaka on this one. The more powerful a country is, the less they complain and for two reasons. One, they are so used to people complaining about them that it’s just not a big deal and two, they’d rather negotiate behind closed doors than in public, because negotiations in public can limit your options. When you are truly #1, you don’t care much about #2 and below but when you are below #1, it’s easy to be obsessed with them.

    The US releases a human rights paper covering every country in the world. It is an internal affair to inform Congress. Every year, only one country seems to complain very much about it. Guess which country that is?

    When anyone criticizes China, China says that country is interfering in it’s internal affairs and the criticism is not warranted nor justified. Then China proceeds to criticize the country that released the paper. What’s the difference? At that point, isn’t China doing exactly what they said shouldn’t be done? Isn’t that hypocritical? What is the reaction of the country receiving China’s criticism? It’s ignored.

    We don’t know what the rise of the “east” will do, because the “east” is such a nebulous term that it fundamentally has no meaning. Do you mean the rise of Japan? They rose a few decades ago. Or do you mean the rise of Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore? They rose a couple of decades ago. Or do you mean the rise of Vietnam and India? That is happening now.

    Now if you mean the rise of China, then say so. China’s interests aren’t necessarily the interests of the countries surrounding her. In fact, the closer countries are the more profound their differences tend to be. And the rise of the “east” can definitely upset global peace since the more interaction nations have, the more potential for conflict. China has the largest standing army in the world. China’s neighbors such as both Koreas, Japan, Russia, Vietnam and India all have either huge armies or very sophisticated navies. China’s greatest priorities lie with her neighbors, not with what you call the “west”.

    Shane, per your remarks China has had thousands of years of no humiliation, one century of humiliation and then a 1/2 century of no humiliation. So the humiliation lasted a fraction of China’s history; we can say it was an historical aberration. Can you tell me how much time will need to pass before it is no longer humiliating to the Chinese people? Or could it be that the Chinese government is portraying the nebulous “west” as a bogeyman to keep attention off domestic issues by creating an external enemy?

    If those bronze treasures represent to you a century of national humiliation, then why would you want them back? To serve as a reminder of a century of national humiliation? That seems like a strange reason to me. I always thought you wanted them back because they ARE considered to be national treasures and a part of your history. That’s why I’d want them back.

    (Miaka): (This) (is) (for) (you) (~) 😉

    There was a blonde who found herself sitting next to a Lawyer on an airplane. The lawyer just kept bugging the blonde wanting her to play a game of intelligence. Finally, the lawyer offered her 10 to 1 odds, and said every time the blonde could not answer one of his questions, she owed him $5, but every time he could not answer hers, he’d give her $50.00. The lawyer figured he could not lose, and the blonde reluctantly accepted.

    The lawyer first asked, “What is the distance between the Earth and the nearest star?”

    Without saying a word the blonde handed him $5. then the blonde asked, “What goes up a hill with 3 legs and comes back down the hill with 4 legs?”

    Well, the lawyer looked puzzled. He took several hours, looking up everything he could on his laptop and even placing numerous air-to-ground phone calls trying to find the answer. Finally, angry and frustrated, he gave up and paid the blonde $50.00

    The blonde put the $50 into her purse without comment, but the lawyer insisted, “What is the answer to your question?”

    Without saying a word, the blonde handed him $5.

  196. Allen Says:

    @Steve #186,

    I want to address a couple of questions.

    First, I want to address why many Chinese like me continue to associate the independence movement with the DL despite DL’s pronouncement that he is only seeking autonomy.

    Second, I want to address the use of the word colonize.

    So – about independence – I think the DL strategically is seeking independence but tactically seeking only autonomy because – to be frank – that is the only politically viable option for the DL at this time (no Western country can support a pro-independence group without basically declaring war on China).

    If you look at the version of history he promulgates (go to the exile website and go to the about menu and scroll through the materials), the rhetoric he use (always us against them), the fact he does not consider Tibet to be an integral part of China and only promises to not seek independence at this time, the fact that he has lied and distorted issues many times in the past, and the fact that history matters and actions speak loudly (see http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90776/6385669.html) … you get the point.

    Now about colonization … there are certain stigma associated with the word today – so as long as those stigma remain, we should respect the word and not use it even though one person may personally not intend the stigma (for example, screaming out the “n” word in a crowded African American bar is not going to help me much even if I explain that I had no bad intent in the word).

    In our most recent memories of colonization, the indigenous people were not full citizens. An Indian, even as subjects of the British, were not full British citizens, for example. Colonization also invoke imagery of genocide and cultural destruction.

    Well … we know ethnic Tibetans have always been full citizens of the PRC.

    We also know there has never been genocide (despite DL’s former claims) against ethnic Tibetans in the PRC and recent allegations of cultural genocide against the PRC is also unfounded (http://www.international.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=2732).

    So – in 2009 – in context on our recent colonial history – I don’t think it appropriate to describe han activities in Tibet as colonization – however well intended you may be.

  197. TonyP4 Says:

    Steve, your lawyer’s joke is obviously personal attack on Allen. Shame on you and guilty as charged! 🙂

    The order of air planes is just a trick used by the Chinese and it means nothing in the short term even it is put on hold after the auction incident. Most orders on air planes are just getting a position in the queue. Until a certain time, it is nothing and usually there is no obligation to both parties. A lot of cancellations especially in today’s economy.

    Our Chinese humiliation/suffering is from late Qing to end of Mao. It is less than 150 years vs 5,000 or so history. It is small time frame but it is the most important time frame for us beside the last 30 or so years.

  198. miaka9383 Says:

    @Steve
    I have one for you… lol.. its even worse…..
    How do you kill a blonde?
    A: put a mirror on the bottom of the pool

    P.S I have to say… F*ing scheme(world’s most useless programming language that is filled with parens along with Lisp)

  199. miaka9383 Says:

    Oh yeah guys.. I just got corrected on my quote
    Here is the right version:
    “Arguing with people online is like winning the special olympics
    You may have won but you are still rtarded”
    Of course this is referencing those people who likes to attack instead of providing factual opinion……

  200. TonyP4 Says:

    maka9383, you’ve hurt the feelings of all the blondes including myself (when I use blond color to dye my hair) and all the retarded athletes who have feelings. 🙂

  201. miaka9383 Says:

    RFLO

  202. Allen Says:

    @TonyP4, Steve,

    About that lawyer’s joke, I’ll make sure I take a few $50 next time I go on a flight!

  203. William Huang Says:

    @ miaka9383 #149 and #170

    Your effort of painting Chinese as crying baby went little too far. You completely misrepresented the author’s article and his point. Your so-called interpretation is dishonest to say the least. Yes, there will always be some people overacting about anything but this does not limit to just Chinese. We all can be a crying baby from time to time you and I incldued.

    I translated your cut and paste from the blog (in Chinese) as you posted in #170 and I also cut and paste your paraphrasing below fro comparison.

    I let readers on this blog decide how far you have stretched from the truth.

    TRANSLATION (by Dr. Bear)
    “Therefore, we need to listen to different voices. I want to take this opportunity to say something about how we can keep calm. Like so many other things has happened, nationalism is a sensitive issue. For one, it has something to do with the humiliation we received in the past and now we are standing up again. It is a good thing that the raise of Nationalism can unit our spirit, move our nation ahead. However, expressing of nationalism sentiment can have unintended consequences which can make the matters more complicated than it should be. If we anger for a slight provocation, no self-exam and control when we should, blow thing out of proportion, it will result a conflict to each other among ourselves for individuals, groups, societies and eventually the nation as a whole. It will suppress the room for rational thinking and compromise our ability to handle complication between the history and current reality. For the short term, it won’t help our government’s internal governing and external diplomacy. In the long run, it is harmful to our individual health, and well being of social and culture environment.

    Your PARAPHRASING in #149:
    “He pointed out in his blog article that there are plenty of Chinese artifacts that are far more valuable that needs to be retrieved than these bronze heads. If CCP and the Chinese protest and cries out every 3 days about Chinese artifacts then there would be outcries everyday. And it will numb the West to the Chinese opinions because they get upset at “EVERYTHING”. ”

  204. miaka9383 Says:

    @William
    I didn’t stretched the truth. Please don’t put that important accusation on me. I merely wrote what I interpret it to be. If you don’t agree, ok! But that is how I condensed his paragraph into 3 sentences and I did justify my opinion to Shane later post. Opinion is an opinion. Paraphrasing is paraphrasing. I interpret it the way I interpret it. So that is how I came up with my opinion.

  205. miaka9383 Says:

    @William
    I apologize for not paraphrasing the paragraph correctly. But I will not apologize for the impression that I got from the blog article. He did point out the over sensitivity of the Chinese and hence the cry baby comment. Like I told Shane… sooner or later I can no longer make joke about the CCP and the Chinese (even though I am one) because of the over sensitivity of the Chinese. If you had hear the jokes that I say daily, you’d take me seriously and say “You are unpatriotic”. Sorry I don’t live life that seriously and to me nothing is black and White. Speaking out with action is good. Over reaction is bad. So don’t react too much to my comment. And I appreciate you translating that, but that is still not that way I interpret the blog article. I don’t know if you saw the list of the artifacts (he listed in his blog on the very bottom of the article) that we should be angry about but aren’t. And I believe that he is pretty much saying… if we are going to get angry about this artifact then we should get angry about EVERY artifact but then we would be over reacting.

  206. Steve Says:

    @ Allen #196: I don’t have any problem with your explanation about the DL and independence. I just don’t understand why it keeps getting brought up when neither independence nor the DL are mentioned, that’s all. If someone says, “The CPC ought to listen to the Tibetans living in Tibet”, there is not mention of either the DL or independence but someone supporting the CPC always seems to bring it up. That seems to me a misleading argument. I wasn’t using “autonomy” as defined by the DL but “autonomy” as defined by Tibetan Chinese. I’ve tried to be consistent in paying attention to and finding out about Tibetan Chinese and not the concepts held by people living elsewhere, including people of Tibetan ancestry but no longer living there.

    Concerning colonization, I think you are mixing up colonization with colonialism. The British practiced colonialism in India but did not colonize it. The British practiced colonialism and colonization in the United States before its independence. Colonization is just the mass movement of peoples from an overcrowded area to a less crowded area. If you don’t like the word, then what do you suggest for the recent movement of Han Chinese to both Tibet and Xinjiang? I’m open to a less polarizing word choice that you might feel is more appropriate, I just can’t think of one.

  207. Steve Says:

    @ TonyP4 #197: “Our Chinese humiliation/suffering is from late Qing to end of Mao. It is less than 150 years vs 5,000 or so history. It is small time frame but it is the most important time frame for us beside the last 30 or so years.”

    Why is it the most important? What humiliation did you suffer between 1949 to end of Mao?

  208. Steve Says:

    @ (Miaka9383) (#198):

    A man was in his front yard mowing grass when his attractive blonde neighbor came out of the house and went straight to the mailbox. She opened it then slammed it shut and stormed back into the house. A little later she came out of her house again, went to the mailbox and again opened it, and slammed it shut again. Angrily, back into the house she went.

    As the man was getting ready to edge the lawn, she came out again, marched to the mailbox, opened it and then slammed it closed harder than ever.

    Puzzled by her actions the man asked her, “Is something wrong?”

    To which she replied, “There certainly is!”

    My stupid computer keeps saying, “You’ve got mail!”

  209. Shane9219 Says:

    From a commentator on the Huffington Post

    “Nobody disputes the fact that they were looted from the summer palace outside Beijing in 1860, but that was then and this is now. A century and a half has passed.”

    That is the typical willful attitude from West.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/beth-arnold/letter-from-paris-heads-u_b_171876.html

  210. TonyP4 Says:

    @Steve #207

    More Chinese suffering than humiliation during this period – should use ‘or’ not ‘and’.

  211. Steve Says:

    @ Shane9219: That was the typical willful attitude of one commentator on the Huffington Post. It has nothing at all to do with the “west”, whatever that is. Would you like me to select a comment from ChinaSmack or another Chinese blog and say it is the typical attitude of the “east”, though I have no idea what that actually means? What sense does that make?

    Haven’t you noticed that virtually every comment from people who live in what you call the “west” has been sympathetic to China concerning this issue? Why do you try to condemn the unrelated “many” for the actions of a “few”? What purpose does that serve? It is neither logical nor accurate.

  212. Shane9219 Says:

    “we know ethnic Tibetans have always been full citizens of the PRC”

    Correct. Many young Tibetan children are receiving good elementary to high school education in special classes across China. This program has been in place for many years with the goal to further Tibet’s education and development by native Tibetan.

  213. Steve Says:

    @ TonyP4: Thanks, Tony. It makes more sense now. But wasn’t the suffering of those 30 years because of internal problems rather than external influences?

    I’m still curious why you think that 100 years of humiliation is the most important time frame in your history. Most of the people alive back then have already passed away, so very few can remember those times first hand. The Brits burned down the White House in the War of 1812 but I don’t feel humiliated over it, since it never happened in my lifetime. However, my mother still doesn’t forgive Japan for Pearl Harbor, which she lived through. I’d like you to delve deeper into your feelings so I can have a better understanding of the issue. Please don’t take this as a criticism in any way, shape or form. I know you are always honest in your statements, but I feel there is a cross-cultural disconnect that I am not able to grasp.

  214. Shane9219 Says:

    #211

    By willfulnese, I means the West often turns a blank face towards their colonial past, simply saying it happened a hundred years ago, so what?! Or evan worse, they either deny it ever happened or happened under some good intention, like what Japanese has done for years. It leaves China and other developing countries to face struggling issues on daily basis initially created by them (such as Tibet). Even more outrageous, they continue to leverage on those issues for their hidden agenda.

    I can personally understand it is not a comfortable subject to them, but there ought to have a collective reflection on their colonial deed.

    Germany are courageous enough to set up the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, why France and Japan could not reflect.

  215. Shane9219 Says:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/beth-arnold/letter-from-paris-heads-u_b_171876.html

    “China could have seen Bergé’s offer as an opportunity. They could
    have changed world opinion in an instant of largess. I’m not being a
    Pollyanna here, but just imagine if the Chinese government and people
    had heard Bergé’s words in a different way. ”

    Yes, Ms. Beth Arnold, I read every word of it and saw Mr. Berge as another symbol
    of western colonialism, a display of shameless arrogance and
    self-indulgence of stupidity.

  216. Steve Says:

    @ Shane: I have no problem with you going after the behavior of individual countries or governments, my problem is with lumping 50 or more countries into one category and then condemning the entire category for the slights of a few. If you have a problem with England and France’s behavior during the Opium Wars, that’s fine with me. But just say “England and France”. If you you have a problem with Japan’s behavior during her imperialistic days, I’m with you all the way. But be specific.

    Why do you keep using the phrase “colonial” for the entire “west” when actual colonialism only occurred with England in Hong Kong, Portugal in Macao and Japan in Manchuria? Can you name other instances of colonialism in China? What percentage of China proper was ruled by a colonial government? As far as I can tell, it was about 0.001% excluding Japan, who by no stretch of anyone’s imagination can be considered as a “western” country.

    I agree with you about Germany and about Japan, but what memorial is France lacking?

  217. Allen Says:

    @Steve #206,

    You wrote:

    I just don’t understand why it keeps getting brought up when neither independence nor the DL are mentioned, that’s all. If someone says, “The CPC ought to listen to the Tibetans living in Tibet”, there is not mention of either the DL or independence but someone supporting the CPC always seems to bring it up. That seems to me a misleading argument. I wasn’t using “autonomy” as defined by the DL but “autonomy” as defined by Tibetan Chinese.

    One explanation is that the DL has politicized Tibetan culture, Buddhism, and language for Tibetan nationalism … so when issues of Tibetan culture, Buddhism, and language are raised, there will always be people who jump to conclusion that we are talking about Tibetan nationalism.

    As for what autonomy means … I’d prefer to go to the Chinese constitution – which I believe the admin has provided before – but which I’ll link again here here.

    Of course we can also start discussing from “first principles” – but I am pretty sure any such discussion will quickly become stuck in impassable politics.

    It’d be like discussing federalism or state powers in the U.S. without reference to the U.S. Constitution … which never lead anywhere…

    Autonomy, like beauty, can become a principle of relevance only in the eye of the beholder.

  218. Steve Says:

    @ Allen: What you wrote made sense from a Chinese POV. I did have a question for you, though. I was reading the Constitution and came across Article 114 which states, “The administrative head of an autonomous region, prefecture or county shall be a citizen of the nationality, or of one of the nationalities, exercising regional autonomy in the area concerned.”

    I thought Hu Jintao was the administrative head of the TAR at one time, yet he is not Tibetan. How is that possible?

  219. admin Says:

    @Steve,

    Hu was not the administrative head of the TAR; he was the party chief of the TAR. It’s a subtle but important difference. 😉

  220. Steve Says:

    Thanks, admin. Who actually makes the final decision, the admin head or party chief? Is one above the other?

  221. admin Says:

    @Steve,

    You will not find this in China’s constitution. But in practice, the admin head is usually the deputy party chief. Their relationship is similar to the one between Wen and Hu.

  222. TonyP4 Says:

    @Steve, #213

    Brits/Americans are quite different from Foreigners/Chinese in term of humiliation:

    Were most Americans besides the native Indians and Eskimos (originally they could be Chinese and I have the genes to verify it, haha) came from Europe? They’re all in the family.

    Secondly, USA is the leader of the world and they are the aggressor. Chinese do not have the same power/privilege.

    Thirdly, tax without representation is quite different from pushing opium by a country using force.

    I’m from Hong Kong, so I know how Brits treated Hong Kong as its colony/milk cow. The unequal treaties of the two opium wars were quite outrageous as I outlined in other post. We only saw the end of this part of history in 1997.

    Most of the wars during the 5,000 years or so were fought by Chinese against Chinese no matter they’re Han, Manchurian, Mongolian, or Tibetan – all in a family. It is our first time in Chinese history that we’ve the barbarians (sorry Steve you’re no barbarian to me) from the west via the ocean (where Great Wall is no use).

    —-
    Koreans and Japanese were branched out from China. Debatable. At least they’re influenced by Chinese culture. If you go to their old temples, you can find their ancestors use Chinese written language. I’m not saying we’re not humiliated by Japanese.

  223. Allen Says:

    Thanks Admin…

    I’d like to add for Steve … if the point of contention of autonomy is to entangle leadership of the Communist Party of China from China’s gov’t (ultimately, I think that’s what many people outside China wants) … we will run into a not so easy or small task in my view of re-writing the Constitution – and re-wiring Chinese governance as we understand today.

  224. William Huang Says:

    @miaka 9383 #204 and #205

    Let me make a suggestion; if you want to direct readers to some references, it better off be an English site since this is an English blog and some readers don’t read and speak Chinese. So we can prevent the discussion like this being limited to few and unfair to those who don’t read and speak Chinese.

    Because of the problem stated above, your interpretation of the reference source needs to be fairly objective which is not a very difficult thing to do. Otherwise, it’s misinformation whether you intended or not.

    Particularly in this case, there is not a single word as “CCP”, “crying baby”, “cries out every 3 days”, and “outcries everyday” in the entire article. As a matter of fact, the author suggested to leave it (the whole affair of returning YMY artifacts) out to the government (“…We already expressed our anger, it’s time to let respective government authority to handle it”…). So it’s hard for me to understand how you can interpret it from leaving it to government (CCP) to CCP is a crying baby.

    As for you stated yourself as being a Chinese, I am not sure it justifies. There are enough people in Taiwan referring to Chinese as people in mainland China and your previous post (#194) obviously distinguishes Taiwanese from Chinese. If you say Taiwanese are also crying baby, I will buy it. As you want to make jokes about CCP, I don’t really mind one way or another. There are plenty of people who have said things on this blog that I don’t necessary agree but at least they are honest about it.

    I don’t want to tell you how to think, but if you think black is white and white is black, does this really help the discussion or just wasting other people’s time?

  225. miaka9383 Says:

    @William
    Not everything is in black and white as you think it is.
    Mentioning Taiwan is useless because it is irrelevant. If you had actually asked me what my opinions are on Taiwan,I maybe willing to share with you. I never said people in Taiwan aren’t cry babies… I have a sleu of comments against them…
    However, there was no words in there specifically but I infered what he meant.
    and I take your suggestion.

    Stop assuming who I am or what I am…. Assume makes an Ass out of you and me haven’t you heard that term?
    I am greatly offended by you by what you said about me… Calling me a liar? that is beneath you…. Dont’ assume something aboiut me by my opinions. I have said above I do not take personal attacks too well. Huaren made a comment about my family and I equate your assumption of who I am and what I am as the same behavior. Yes I am being a cry baby.

    I am done until you can offer constructive critcism about Chinese Sensitivity/ artifacts/ or the intention behind the auction like what I said about Charities. I read the blog article and that is the way I interpreted and stop thinking I have to have the same interpretation as you, the meaning is still there. He beleived that the Chinese people too are too sensitive and there is my point. And arguing about semantics of one blog article is waste of my time. I can quote plenty of other bloggers on ifeng that I have read. I can tell you how I came to that conclusion.

    P.S Yes I am offended. I expected intelligent comment from you and instead I got something low class.

    P.S 2 You did not notice the part where he quoted the survey about Chinese sentivity.

  226. Otto Kerner Says:

    @Steve #206: “I don’t have any problem with your explanation about the DL and independence. I just don’t understand why it keeps getting brought up when neither independence nor the DL are mentioned, that’s all. If someone says, ‘The CPC ought to listen to the Tibetans living in Tibet’, there is not mention of either the DL or independence but someone supporting the CPC always seems to bring it up.”

    Well, if the Tibetans living in Tibet prefer to be independent, which I suspect they do, then listening to them would necessarily entail moving toward independence. I think that this is one of the fundamental roadblocks to a mutually acceptable resolution to the Tibet issue … if people want to be independent, then the more space you give them, the more they push toward independence. Agreements and promises might bind an individual leader or a small group, but the public will not be bound except by force. If you give them an inch, they might just take a mile. So, there’s no point in the CCP starting to liberalize Tibet now — they’ll only have to crack down later when the Tibetans go too far.

  227. William Huang Says:

    @ miaka 9383 #225

    I apologize if I offend you.

    As for Chinese being sensitive, yes, some Chinese are but I am not sure if the entire country is like that. Let me put this way:

    Chinese have never being accused of being assertive. What does this mean? It means that Chinese may have an opinion but very reluctant to express it, particularly when a self-interest is at stake. It is considered rude to point out others fault and to put them in an difficult position. Not only you have to behave this way but also you expect everybody else around you to behave the same. But when they break the rules, the anger is compounded for being forced to break the rules. Chinese call it “speaking with flipped face”.

    However, being assertive is essential to western society today (“you got to fight for your right”). You don’t ask for it, nobody is goanna give you anything. It is a survive skill necessary in every walks of live. But there are rules, the what, when, where, whom and most importantly, the how. These rules are pretty much unspoken but universal among western countries. So you hear a lot of “politically correctness”, “sensitivity”, “basic rights”, etc, etc to cover it and pretty sophisticated if you ask me. The trick is to say something not because what you want but because of what principle demands. If you know how to follow these rules, nobody can accuse you of being overly sensitive.

    We, Chinese armed with these outdated traditions, are trying to be modern and assert ourselves for our rights on the world stage. The language and culture differences made it worse, and being ruled by a government believing in communism won’t help at all. Unlike many countries, China doesn’t have a western educated leader who knows enough tricks to play the game. Many educated ones who went back to China, how should I say, are nerds and geeks not really fitted to rule. So you can image the dismay by the west when a good percentage of 1.3 billion people want to play the “game” but don’t know the “rules”.

    So what’s the big deal? If this is anything embarrassing, it’s Chinese people who embarrassing themselves. Why should anyone else care so much then? Everyday, there are a lot of people got killed, lost their jobs, without food and shelter etc, etc. Is Chinese people’s sensitivity really a serious problem today? The only thing that matters is: 1) Do Chinese have the right to assert themselves in this matter, and 2) Is it reasonable?

    I hope this post is satisfactory for you and I don’t mean you have to agree with the content.

  228. Wukailong Says:

    @William: Nice post. On a personal level, I feel the same way. I try to avoid criticizing others directly even if the criticism is honest and would improve things if the person on the receiving end is willing to listen. Some of this might be a cultural leaning since I find Americans to be much less concerned about “face” even than other Westerners, but it’s also a personal trait of mine.

    I guess another key difference is the one between “private” and “public”. Many Chinese associate themselves strongly with their country and get personally upset over criticism that isn’t aimed at them. The reaction is a bit like if someone would criticize your family.

    I don’t think this sensitivity to direct criticism is necessarily wrong and something China ought to entirely dismantle. What I think ought to improve on both sides are our reactions to people breaking rules we’re used to. It seems rule-breaking in an unfamiliar manner brings out all sorts of primitive reactions in people on both sides.

  229. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Steve #188:
    “but I have been taxed to death.” – then Canada is definitely not the place for you. We get taxed to death, then get taxed some more after that.

    To Allen #196:
    “Well … we know ethnic Tibetans have always been full citizens of the PRC.” – whether they wanted to be or not.

    I’d say that if you don’t like what the Dalai Lama is trying to achieve, despite all his claims about his current intent, then what better way than to find out what Tibetans want right from the horse’s mouth? But somehow, that doesn’t fly either, for reasons beyond me. So the Dalai Lama as the spokesman for Tibetans is not a concept that’s embraced. And Tibetans as the spokespeople for Tibetans is also somehow inappropriate. Leaves me to wonder how the CCP decides on the manner in which it bestows largesse onto TIbetans…

    To Shane #209:
    in the future, when you use “west” (and “east” for that matter), would you mind defining it please? Personally, I think those terms are as illustrative as when someone says “all Chinese” do this or that.

    To Shane #215:
    “saw Mr. Berge as another symbol of western colonialism” – isn’t that a stretch? Has Mr. Berge gone on a pillaging expedition recently? A reflex like that seems to be an extension of the “easily offended” mechanism about which others have spoken.

    To Allen #217:
    “there will always be people who jump to conclusion that we are talking about Tibetan nationalism.” – then shouldn’t the onus be on those people to restrain themselves a little bit from jumping to conclusions?

    “Autonomy, like beauty, can become a principle of relevance only in the eye of the beholder.” – you can say that again. Perhaps when TIbetans are given a voice, and no longer feel forcefully beholden to the CCP, then these principles might actually mean something in China. Right now, they don’t mean much.

  230. Allen Says:

    @Steve – I’ll write a post on the Chinese Constitution and autonomy soon … even though I am not a Chinese lawyer. Hopefully I won’t get sued for malpractice! 😉

  231. Shane9219 Says:

    @229

    “saw Mr. Berge as another symbol of western colonialism” – isn’t that a stretch?

    Not at all. Mr. Berge got that hat because his refusal to return those items. The West and DL had called China on Tibet with same word. So, this is just a returning of the same favor like an old Chinese saying.

    Mr. Berge’s deed was even worse. Consider this: he got some stolen items from your house, and then ask you to send your wife for an exchange.

  232. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Shane:
    There you go again with that “west” nonsense. Anyhow, since I haven’t accused China of “western colonialism” wrt Tibet (though I’d be happy to accuse them of a bunch of other moral transgressions, but I digress), then it seems a stretch to me for anyone to compare a guy who’s substantially less than 150 years old as a symbol of same. But if it floats your boat, be my guest.

    And perhaps I’ve misunderstood, but if you’re equating money with treating your spouse as a commodity, then I think we utilize widely divergent value scales.

  233. Otto Kerner Says:

    @Shane #231,

    In your analogy, if your wife doesn’t want to live with you, then this seems like a very reasonable thing to do. Doesn’t she get a say in the matter?

  234. Shane9219 Says:

    @S.K. Cheung #232

    The term “West” is frequently used in geopolitics, so why need more explanation. But I understood, it is not a comfortable word for Chinese living in the West

    As an example in this BBC news piece,

    “West ‘uses Tibet to attack China’ ”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7918713.stm

    @Otto Kerner

    You brought up a totally different question, and I have no answer to it 🙂

  235. Ted Says:

    @Shane #209: ““Nobody disputes the fact that they were looted from the summer palace outside Beijing in 1860, but that was then and this is now. A century and a half has passed.””

    That take one the sale was shared by plenty of my students here so guess I can state that all Chinese possess the same “willful attitude”. You’re the minority then?

  236. William Huang Says:

    @ Wukailong #228

    Thanks. I am in the process of learning myself as how to exchange different views and ideas with people in a civilized manner, sometimes through the help from you, Ted and Steve.

    As for Chinese associate themselves strongly with the country, I think it has something to do with old traditions of “guilty by association” and the lack of clear demarcation point between the country and the government .

  237. Shane9219 Says:

    @Ted #235

    There are great obstacle and difficulty for people in the West to understand and appreciate the positions and perspectives from developing world. Little understanding on their historical burden and context is #1 in my regard, and their insistence to mess with and put leverage on those complex historical issues to gain political and economical advantage is #2, etc.

    There is only one exception though, as you see how the West has been handling issues associated with Jew and Israel after WWII. And you may know why? Why Mrs. Clinton went to lay a wreath when she was in Israel recently?

    Such deep misunderstadning may show itself on the surface as simply as culture, religion, style of communication or even manner. The truth is that it is simply NOT. there are so many questions you many ask for yourself …

    Why is that the world of geopolitics is still as complicated as hell as a hundred year ago? Why the racial gap in the US is still deep despite all the noble efforts? With all the “noble” intention to help the world by US after WWII, why the country to the south of US border (Mexico, of course) is still struggling in poverty and social turmoil? why lots of people on the Africa continent is still as poor as they were 50 years ago? Why President Obama has to delcare US is not an enemy of Muslim world?

    This forum has been helpful on factual exchange of different POVs, so keep up the good work 🙂

  238. Shane9219 Says:

    “There are great obstacle and difficulty for people in the West to understand and appreciate the positions and perspectives from developing world. Not properly understanding the historical burden and context is #1 in my regard, and their insistence to mess with and put leverage on those complex historical issues to gain political and economical advantage is #2, etc.”

    China has been doing her best to bridge the wide gap, and I personally think that is part of her historical mission.

  239. William Huang Says:

    @ S. K. Cheung #185

    “Which brings me to another question. Were these pieces secretly kept in YSL’s collection, or was it open knowledge? If it was the latter, then why the brouhaha only upon them going to auction? Where was the moral indignation previously, or was it around the whole time and I just missed it?”

    It will depend on the definition of open knowledge. There are billions of private collections from baseball card to Picasso painting. These two pieces are just a needle in the haystack. Chinese government had choices; they can send a lawyer in private or they can say, see you in court and make it public. Considering the current Sino-French relation, the decision isn’t too hard. If I were them, I would do the same.

  240. Steve Says:

    @ SKC #185 & William Huang #239: The best I could dig up was this article from the Christian Science Monitor:

    Though it hurts to pay for something that belongs to you, says Niu Xianfeng, deputy director of the Lost Cultural Relics Recovery Program, a privately funded NGO, “if we want to recover relics sometimes we have to buy them.

    “There’s no other way to bring them back” he adds. “If we don’t buy them when they are on the market we may never see them again.”

    Mr. Niu was involved in secret negotiations several years ago to buy the rat and rabbit heads, he says, but the asking price of $10 million apiece was “robbery.”

    At the time, Niu did not know that Mr. Saint Laurent was the owner of the pieces.

    Since Mr. Niu engaged in secret negotiations in his first attempt to buy and repatriate them, they must not have been open knowledge.

  241. Steve Says:

    @ TonyP4 #221: Thanks for the reply. I’ll list my thoughts below:

    “Were most Americans besides the native Indians and Eskimos (originally they could be Chinese and I have the genes to verify it, haha) came from Europe? They’re all in the family.”

    You can say they are all in the family now, but back then they were not. There was no EU and no idea of a European “common identity”. Each state had its own distinct identity; puritans in Massachusetts, free thinkers in Rhode Island, Dutch in NY and NJ, Quakers in Pennsylvania, Catholics in Maryland, Anglican Protestants in most of the southern states. The reason you see so many Irish and German soldiers in those old John Ford cavalry flicks is because that was the only way for them to get ahead, since they were banned from most jobs. There were still signs outside corporations in the early 20th century that said, “Irish need not apply.” Italians were considered very different, along with all the Eastern Europeans. So anyone who wasn’t Anglican English was an “outsider”.

    “Secondly, USA is the leader of the world and they are the aggressor. Chinese do not have the same power/privilege.”

    I’m not sure what this has to do with being humiliated. Are you saying that every country in the world with the exception of the USA should feel humiliated?

    “Thirdly, tax without representation is quite different from pushing opium by a country using force.”

    The War of 1812 had nothing to do with taxation, that’s the revolutionary war. We entered that war because England would stop American ships and force their sailors to join the British Navy, which was short of sailors during the Napoleonic wars. Kidnapping citizens from a foreign country to serve in your navy seems pretty bad to me. Pushing opium into a country using force seems pretty bad to me.

    “I’m from Hong Kong, so I know how Brits treated Hong Kong as its colony/milk cow. The unequal treaties of the two opium wars were quite outrageous as I outlined in other post. We only saw the end of this part of history in 1997.”

    Without a doubt, Hong Kong was a British Colony stolen from China. Are you saying that you would have preferred Hong Kong to have been a part of China throughout the GLF and CR? Or do you see any benefits of having it under English rule during the last 50 years? Would Hong Kong have been a great city if the English had never been there? Wasn’t it just a small fishing village when the Brits confiscated it? Because virtually no Chinese lived there, couldn’t you say that virtually 100% of the Chinese who live there now voluntarily CHOSE to live there? Why did they choose to live on this small, rocky island run by foreigners when they could have stayed in their native Chinese farm, village or city? Was your family originally from Hong Kong before the English arrived, or did they emigrate there while it was under British rule?

    France and Germany have battled over Alsace Lorraine for centuries yet the Germans don’t feel humiliated that it is still a part of France. The people living in the Dolomites in northeast Italy are actually Austrians, but after WWI the land was given to Italy and kept there since. Do the Austrians feel humiliated? There are many other examples I can give of land grabs where the nation that suffered the loss doesn’t feel humiliated later. Should Inner Mongolians feel humiliated now that they are a part of greater China? Why not just accept that history happened and move on?

    “Most of the wars during the 5,000 years or so were fought by Chinese against Chinese no matter they’re Han, Manchurian, Mongolian, or Tibetan – all in a family. It is our first time in Chinese history that we’ve the barbarians (sorry Steve you’re no barbarian to me) from the west via the ocean (where Great Wall is no use).”

    Aren’t you are using today’s standards to measure the past? No one in China felt Genghis Khan was Chinese back in the 13th century, nor did any Mongolian feel he was Chinese. The Manchurian invasions during the Southern Song and Qing periods were considered “foreign” invasions, not a civil war. Virtually everyday on this blog we have arguments on whether Tibetans are Chinese or not. If that’s a family, it sounds dysfunctional to me. 😉

    The great invasion of China was from Japan. The European powers sent in soldiers, won a few battles, established unequal trading concessions and left. The Japanese attacked, stayed and massacred. So if you feel humiliated by the Japanese, that’s understandable but there’s no way that we can consider Japan to be a part of the “west”, regardless of how you define “west”. To call Japan a “western” country is nonsense.

    “Koreans and Japanese were branched out from China. Debatable. At least they’re influenced by Chinese culture. If you go to their old temples, you can find their ancestors use Chinese written language. I’m not saying we’re not humiliated by Japanese.”

    Koreans and Japanese are both mongoloid in terms of race. There is a direct DNA link between Japanese and Koreans. To say neither is related to China would then take the Mongolians, Manchurians and Tibetans out of the China orbit, wouldn’t it? Under any definition, they are a far eastern culture and all far eastern culture is rooted in Chinese culture.

    My belief is that the Chinese people feel humiliated mostly because the government tells them they should feel that way. Their school textbooks tell them they were humiliated. Their TV shows, newspapers, magazines, radio programs, websites, all repeat this over and over. It has an effect. And what magical event could occur to end this humiliation? I have no idea. Feeling humiliated about events that happened before your time is all about attitude, and only we can change our own attitudes. It’s like the 50 year old guy whose life is a mess and all he can say is that it’s his parent’s fault because they didn’t raise him properly. Meanwhile, his brother has a great life because he developed a different attitude and decided that his life was his own and he could be and do whatever he desired.

  242. William Huang Says:

    @ Steve #240

    Thanks for the information.

    I would accept the following:
    Mr. Pierre Berge offers China the price YSL paid plus some small compound return on the investment. In return, China pays full amount without demanding driect return.

    China does not have all the rights to take every culture treasure back from outside. Many of them were sold by legitimate owners through legitimate means and ended up in the museums and private collectors elsewhere. These owners, whatever their nationalities are, have every right to own them both morally and legally.

    However, these two pieces are very unique not only on its clear moral standing for its ownership but also symbolic for our troubled past. As a Chinese, I found it offensive for Mr. Berge to offer the return in exchange for China’s position on Tibet.

  243. Steve Says:

    @ Otto Kerner #226: Otto, I have no idea what Tibetans in Tibet prefer, because I never hear from them. I hear from Tibetans living in other countries, I hear from Han Chinese living in China, but mostly I hear from Han Chinese living overseas or from westerners either living in, lived in (like me) or never lived in China, and no one who has responded on this blog has actually lived in Tibet, though some have visited on holiday. Therefore, i don’t suspect anything.

    What I would like is the opportunity to listen to them, and at this time the hangup on that is by the Chinese government, who is restricting access to Tibetan areas and establishing martial rule over Tibetan districts in preparation for the upcoming holidays. Needing to have a martial lockdown sure doesn’t seem like the Tibetan people are peaceful and happy to me.

    I disagree with your assessment of working with Tibetans to improve their situation. Independence is off the table, so any Tibetan with some sense would avoid that topic and work with the government, if allowed, to address the real concerns of the Tibetan people. My guess is that Tibetans want a greater say in their own affairs. That is possible under the right administration. They would like more religious freedom. That is also possible. They want to lower their unemployment rate and get decent jobs for their people. That is something that can be discussed.

    This whole “independence” farce is used by both sides as an excuse to avoid serious reforms. The CPC sees “independence” under every bush and uses it as a reason not to make needed changes, and the TGIE says “we don’t want independence, but if you give us what we want we’d be ‘de facto’ independent.” Neither is going to fly.

    “If you give them an inch, they might just take a mile. So, there’s no point in the CCP starting to liberalize Tibet now — they’ll only have to crack down later when the Tibetans go too far.”

    That sums up the central government negotiating position quite nicely.

  244. Steve Says:

    @ Allen #230: Looking forward to it. Right now, the Chinese system of government seems like a “system within a system” to me, so a better understanding of the constitution might make things clearer.

  245. Steve Says:

    @ Shane #234: The BBC article you linked to has the Chinese government using the term “west”, not the BBC. The Chinese government is using it as this amorphous blanket term that has no real meaning. When it is used in geopolitics, it’s used in a completely different fashion and not with the meaning you’ve been giving it. When France does something you don’t like, you blame “the west”. When England does something you don’t like, you blame “the west”. When the USA does something you don’t like, you blame “the west”. When Canada does something you don’t like, you blame “the west”. None of them use the meaning that is used in geopolitics.

    #237: I’m not sure what the first part of your post meant. What does Mrs. Clinton laying a wreath in Israel have to do with our topic? Last I looked, Israel was in the “east” as definited geopolitically.

    Since this “east” and “west” thing keeps coming up, let’s define it historically. The original use of “east” was the Persian Empire, the Levant and Egypt. The “west” was the Greek world of Alexander the Great. That’s it.

    Later, the “west” was defined by the Western Roman Empire while the “east” was the Byzantine Empire and countries in today’s Middle East, including Egypt. Later, the term “far east” was created to describe the countries west of India. Even more commonly used were the terms “occident” and “orient”.

    Developed and developing countries have nothing to do with geographic terms, nor does western cultural influence. There’s a tremendous amount of western cultural influence in Shanghai. I was constantly being asked about western pop artists, western movies, western culture. Does that make Shanghai a “western” city? Of course not. Liking Radiohead does not make you “western”.

    Indian philosophy is considered “eastern”. Philosophy in Iraq is also considered “eastern”. Used in that way, each term has a much different meaning that how it’s been used on this blog or in Chinese government statements. Unless a statement actually applies to all of western Europe, english speaking North America, Australia and New Zealand, why don’t we just name the specific country that applies and not make inaccurate group accusations.

    Besides, none of us have any idea what the Aussies are saying half the time:

    Down came a jumbuck to drink at the billabong,
    Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee,
    And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
    “You’ll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me”.

    Huh???? 😉

  246. TonyP4 Says:

    @Steve #241.

    You’ve some good points though I do not totally agree. However, I know I cannot win an argument from a master and my nice nature always lets my friend win – my own fault.:)

    China had a great civilization when the west was living in caves. Our fall was very deplorable. I do not know what other incident of a country pushing opium by force and the outrageous unequal treaties that followed.

    It is better for me that Brits ruled Hong Kong. However, it is bad for China to cede Hong Kong under the circumstances.

    I do not think returning the bronze is a great deal to the Chinese other than the spiritual reminder of our sad history.

  247. Steve Says:

    @ TonyP4 #246: Nobody “wins” or “loses” here, we all just bat things around and have a good time! 😛

    Tony, I hope the main lesson the Chinese nation has learned from the bad times was not to turn inward but continue to interact with other nations. I believe it was the burning of the treasure fleet and the closing of China in the late 15th century that started the decline that eventually led to China’s plight. I don’t know if the world is “flat” like Thomas Friedman likes to say, but it is certainly more interactive and less separates us than any previous time in world history. For me, that is a GOOD thing! We can all learn from each other and build friendships that will last a lifetime, amongst individuals as well as nations.

    And we weren’t living in caves. We were living in mud walled, thatched roof, lice infested hovels. 😉

  248. FOARP Says:

    . . . . or expansive Roman villas, depending who you are talking about, this kind of commentary always strikes me as pointless ego-boosting.

  249. FOARP Says:

    @Steve – I thought Americans used the word ‘swag’ the same way we did – i.e., pilfered goods. Bilabong = pool/swamp, tucker = food, Jumbuck = ?

  250. yo Says:

    About this issue, i think it’s despicable, but I don’t know what anyone can do but for some chinese business person with deep pockets to get the artifacts back.

    Man, this is just as bad as the Gandhi auction; I hope the Indians step up and get Gandhi’s personal belongings in the auctions.

  251. Steve Says:

    @ FOARP: Nope, “swag”‘s not a word for us, not even short for swagger. So I guess Berge wasn’t able to pawn off his swag? 😉

  252. miaka9383 Says:

    @Willam #227
    Of course it is reasonable for China to be assertive.
    But when a collective of Chinese netizens over react to a stupid politician in Taiwan spewing off nonsense… to a Comedian poking fun of China…. or even worse the Russian incident when it was the HK Captain and the parent company had violated a law…Where does these “complaints” end? When do you start taking these opinions seriously when you see it all the time… I go on many different forums, and I see the stupid greens and the fengqings just start bashing each other, Japan and Americans…. When do you start to take their opinions seriously as the voices of Chinese people? Eventually, if Chinese gets upset about every little thing said about them… They are going to be viewed as cry babies per se. Steve earlier pointed out…
    U.S creates a human rights report for the congress every year… and the only country that creates a counter report is China…. Why? Is this their way of being assertive? by pointing out the problem with inner cities and the gangs… and crime rates that the Federal Government has no control over? Do you see any americans objecting to China’s counter report?

  253. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Shane #234:
    “The term “West” is frequently used in geopolitics” – true. But I’d submit that the term is a generalization which should be reserved for when a generalization is appropriate. However, when you’re accusing folks of colonialism, or of inciting sentiment on behalf of the Dalai Lama, or whatever, I’d suggest that specifics are more illustrative. That being said, if you prefer to couch your points in amorphic non-descriptive and poorly-utilized over-generalizations, such, as I’ve said ad nauseum, is certainly your prerogative.

    “But I understood, it is not a comfortable word for Chinese living in the West” – you have understood poorly, my dear Watson.

    To William #239:
    “These two pieces are just a needle in the haystack.” – in the entire sphere of collectibles the world over, yes; but if these two pieces are such a source of national humiliation, or are responsible for opening the gate to an outpouring of same, I would’ve thought they’d have been on the Chinese radar even if they didn’t merit notice on the collectibles radar in general. So I still wonder where the uproar was previously.

  254. colin Says:

    @253 S.K. Cheung

    “But I’d submit that the term is a generalization which should be reserved for when a generalization is appropriate. However, when you’re accusing folks of colonialism, or of inciting sentiment on behalf of the Dalai Lama, or whatever, I’d suggest that specifics are more illustrative. That being said, if you prefer to couch your points in amorphic non-descriptive and poorly-utilized over-generalizations, such, as I’ve said ad nauseum, is certainly your prerogative.”

    F*ck you and your nuances. Your verbose verbiage stinks and offends me like a giant pile of elephant sh*t.

  255. Allen Says:

    @colin,

    You’ve been making good, succinct arguments that are not only illuminating but at times entertaining.

    You’ve got silent fans. Keep up the good work.

    There are many lurkers here however … and swearing would not win hearts and minds…. 😉

    For everyone else – here is an interesting side note: Online survey: Over 80% French back repatriation of looted Chinese bronzes.

  256. colin Says:

    @255 Allen

    Thanks.

    I was trying to demonstration a point in 254. While curses are offensive, there are some postings here that are just as offensive for their length, spaghetti logic and sheer uselessness. What’s the difference between the two if they are equally offensive?

    I promise not to curse again (maybe..) 🙂

  257. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Colin #254:
    I find it regrettable that my nuances are beyond the grasp of a simpleton like you. Alas, such is not my concern. And your sentiments, though vigorous, are beneath me, and are more reflective of you than of me. Feel free to chew on that for a while.

    As for offending you, you’re welcome. Anytime, buddy.

    BTW, people on your side are a curious lot. Some say people like me should appreciate more nuance; but some say people like me are excessively so. Maybe y’all can make up your minds already.

  258. colin Says:

    @257 S.K. Cheung

    I think you’re a robot!

    Nuances are good if they make sense. Robots talk a lot, but don’t make sense. They even try to use all the big words from the dictionary.

    S.K., are you an AI experiment in someone’s lab???

    That “y’all” is a good touch, but it doesn’t fool me! 🙂

  259. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Colin,
    methinks you’re a doof…actually, I know you are. If something doesn’t make sense, sometimes it’s due to your inability to comprehend. Is that word too big for you?

    Listen, if my logic is faulty, why not have some stones and show me why you find it so. The stuff you’re engaging in is just juvenile. But if you want to interact on that level (and let’s face it, do you have any other level?), I’m down with that too.

    Unfortunately, that would mean detracting from the topic of this thread. But that might be the extent of your capacity.

  260. colin Says:

    @259 SK

    “if my logic is faulty, why not have some stones and show me why you find it so”

    Because it would be a waste of time to argue your spaghetti logic or attempt to comprehend your verbosity.

  261. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Colin,
    gosh, that’s lame. If you haven’t got the stones, then at least man up and admit as much.

  262. colin Says:

    @sk

    “gosh, that’s lame. If you haven’t got the stones, then at least man up and admit as much.”

    Wow, a whole thought in one line without unnecessary fillers or random tangents. I’m impressed. I didn’t know you had it in you! 🙂

  263. William Huang Says:

    @ miaka9383 #252

    I don’t understand this. You complained about Chinese people’s voice not being heard. Now you heard it, but you regret it. It’s just too much for you. As for their “over-reacting”, I hope they haven’t climbed Eiffel Tower hanging flags there or protested on 2010 Olympic yet. Other than that, all I can say is; next time, be careful what you wishing for.

    @ S. K. Chueng #253

    ”“These two pieces are just a needle in the haystack.” – in the entire sphere of collectibles the world over, yes; but if these two pieces are such a source of national humiliation, or are responsible for opening the gate to an outpouring of same, I would’ve thought they’d have been on the Chinese radar even if they didn’t merit notice on the collectibles radar in general. So I still wonder where the uproar was previously.”

    As for outpouring, I haven’t seen much yet. If you are referring to people on this blog, well, I say it’s their prerogative. If you are referring to Chinese government, they are just doing their job. Where was the previous uproar? I suppose the media never paid attention until now. Maybe this Chinese sensitivity thing is really contagious and everybody is getting little extra sensitive these days including the media. What can I say?

  264. Wukailong Says:

    The latest rounds of arguments remind me of the generic counter-argument: speak your opponent’s arguments in a silly voice.

  265. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Colin:
    “If you haven’t got the stones, then at least man up and admit as much.”
    a. I’m pretty sure you don’t have it in you.
    b. eloquence is clearly wasted on you.

  266. miaka9383 Says:

    @William
    I think you have my points confused:
    1. Chinese voices are not heard by their own government
    2. Chinese netizens voice their opinion of other government without knowing all of the facts.
    3. And I answer your question…. China does have the right to be assertive to the rest of the world including their own.
    4. However asserting is extremely different from overreacting.
    5. I have noticed that the minority opinion that doesn’t agree with the rest of the group gets attacked or censored. So how do you know if the opinion is well formed? if it is well formed then why do they overreact to little incidents that “hurt” their feelings? Also the example regarding the human rights report, Chinese government react very strongly to it.. why? Iti s not for them its for Congress….. In this case the Chinese government reacts with their own counter report and it creates “opinions” online… but in this case is it well informed?

  267. William Huang Says:

    @ miaka9383#266

    “Chinese voices are not heard by their own government”
    – How do you know? If not, how come most Chinese are very happy?

    “Chinese netizens voice their opinion of other government without knowing all of the facts.”
    – How do you know? It’s real hard to know from reading on the blog what other side knows or doesn’t know. Maybe they know all the facts but didn’t draw the same conclusion as yours.

    “However asserting is extremely different from overreacting.”
    – What’s the definition of overreacting? You have to be more specific. Have they cause any damage or threaten anybody? If they just say something you don’t agree, I won’t call it overreacting.

    “So how do you know if the opinion is well formed? if it is well formed then why do they overreact to little incidents that “hurt” their feelings?”
    – If you go to some other blogs, you can hear some people cursing Chinese just for Chinese being Chinese. But not a single Chinese including myself, spoke up. How about that? Is that good enough? Now, as an observation; the moral crusaders are usually the worst sinners. I don’t know why but it always seems work this way. The same is true for overlay-sensitive people. In that sense, as long as these Chinese don’t complain about others being overly-sensitive, they probably not that overly-sensitive as you think.

    “Also the example regarding the human rights report, Chinese government react very strongly to it.. why? Iti s not for them its for Congress….. In this case the Chinese government reacts with their own counter report and it creates “opinions” online… but in this case is it well informed?”

    – I look at this way; people in China have a lot of respect for US as a country and American people. With the worldwide protest on US invasion of Iraq, Chinese people said nothing. If you ask ordinary Chinese people, many of them think US is entitled to defend itself. They don’t even think of Bush badly. They think of him as a cowboy who likes to use gun to solve the problems. Europeans, on the other hand, hated him. In that sense Chinese are way on the top for being tolerant or you may say, they don’t care about human rights, Unlike some group of people, at least they are consistent. No human rights home, no human rights abroad.

    At individual level, let me use one example. A week before Bush’s last day as President, he ran into Chinese President in an international conference in Central America. After Chinese President wished him well and recalled 8-years of good relationship between the two countries, Bush reminded him Tibetan human rights issue. Chinese President smiled and said nothing. So who is overreacting?

    But in Bush’s last press conference, when asked what new president should do to repair US image in the world. Bush retorted and he doesn’t agree that US image is being damaged and said, “a lot of people in the world love US, just go and ask Chinese….”

  268. Raj Says:

    NEWS FLASH (well maybe not, but I’m sure here are people who haven’t heard)

    http://www.economist.com/books/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13226433

    The Economist reports:

    Will Cai Mingchao, the Chinese auctioneer who sabotaged the sale of the Qing Dynasty rat head and rabbit head (pictured below) at Christie’s in Paris last week, still be celebrated as a patriot when it is discovered that one of his two underbidders was planning to give the bronzes to China?…….

    Now The Economist has discovered that a London-based Chinese businessman who bid up to €12m ($15.1m) on both pieces was attempting to buy one of them as a gift for China. With Mr Cai’s pirate move, however, the controversy has escalated and the bronzes have become too hot to touch.

    What a “smart move” Cai made (or perhaps the Chinese gov if we’re to believe it forced him to not pay).

  269. Ted Says:

    @Shane #237:

    I should have made myself clear in post #235. I’m in China, my students are mainland Chinese.

    Yours is not the end-all of opinions in China, just as the Huffington Post comment you cited doesn’t represent all the opinions of the West. That you think Berge is a symbol of Western colonialism or the Huffington Post commenter is “typical” tells me you are looking for an opinion or a stereotype rather than looking past them. The latter approach may take a little effort but it’s far more worthwhile.

  270. miaka9383 Says:

    @William
    Maybe you are right.. I am still not convinced…… I see less and less logical opinion everyday…

    Just like… Huaren, when I made the comment about contributing to Charity because I do it and I think everyone else within their power should do it too… He made an interesting comment about my family…… Overreacting to a simple opinion? Maybe…

    I have a good example of over reacting…..
    I watch Taiwanese entertainment shows… They like to invite different stars from different country….
    And I know the newest pop icon in China is Hu Yan Bing…. but since he was new to the circuit he went on the show to promote his Men KTV and the Album and he was on the show with Su yong Kung and it happens they were talking about Music Piracy problem in China and in Taiwan. Well, because throughout the whole show they only show Hu saying barely two sentences and let him sing, his Chinese fan Bombarded the show’s forum crying foul… how the Taiwanese industry is prejudice against Mainland Singers and how they were going to boycott the show…. <– Overreacting? Maybe….

    There are many other examples that I see daily…. Should I take those opinions as Chinese are happy?
    If that is the case.. then why is it things like Charter 08 and other opposition opinion are blocked out… or bulldog got shut down because someone did a piece on Charter 08…

  271. HongKonger Says:

    # 245

    Down came a jumbuck (sheep) to drink at the billabong (a natural pool)
    Up jumped the swagman ( a hobo) and grabbed him with glee,
    And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker (Food) bag,
    “You’ll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me”.

    A swagman is a drifter, carried his few belongings slung in a cloth (one’s bed-roll),.
    Matilda is a faminine moniker that originated as the Teutonic Mathilde – ‘Mighty in Battle’. Matilda was a mock-romantic word for a swag, and to waltz matilda was to hit the road with a swag on your back.

  272. admin Says:

    Somewhat related news

    Gandhi items auctioned for for $1.8m over India government’s objection (and with their help).

    http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/blnus/14061220.htm

  273. Sophie Says:

    I haven’t read all comments here. In case no one posted this:

    According to an online survey by Sina – the leading Chinese portal site,
    75.9% of people support Cai Mingchao; 16.1% don’t. There are 471,058 votes so far.

    http://survey.news.sina.com.cn/voteresult.php?pid=31174

    @ miaka9383,
    ‘I personally saw this auction as a way that Chinese (no matter how the artifact came about) can participate in creating a precedent in contributing to Charity. ‘

    Chinese government had tried to negotiate with the owner before the auction but failed since he had insisted the price of 10 million euros each.

    According to Luo Zhewen, director of the architecture department at the State Administration of Cultural Heritage and honorary chairman of the Cultural Artifact Association, ‘whoever bought the bronzes at such a price, he/she must be an idiot (冤大头)…(the bronze worth) less than one million RMB. More than that, and the buyer should figure that he’s been cheated.’

    ‘From the Siquan Earthquake to other events, Taiwanese and Foreign monetary contribution to the rebuilding cause was far more than the Wealthy in China.’
    Can you provide any evidence?

    ‘ (China) Show that they are a world leader and not a follower/ “cry baby’
    ‘Its good to fight injustice but it is not good to whine’

    People feel angry, so people protest. Are you telling people how they should feel, or they should have kept silent if they do feel angry? As well, I don’t see China is crying, I see China is fighting.

  274. TonyP4 Says:

    @ Steve #247.

    It is the fate of China. If they went to Europe to see the higher civilization, they would know they had something to learn from the outside world. What they saw in SE Asia and Africa did not excite them to look/learn.

    Chinese superstition caused the burning of treasure ships. The trips/new palace cost too much money and eventually caused the Ming Dynasty, same as building of palaces caused the fall of Qing to some extend.

    Mao kept the west out to reduce unrest: you think you’re #1 due to no real comparison. Lifting the spirit of a nation is good, but making billion dummies is not. With the internet/trade (no opium trade this time, haha), it is hard to keep Chinese disconnected to the outside world. How many educated Chinese believe 100% in Xinhua ‘News’?

    The ‘cave’ statement is same statement as in my blog: 0% ego, 10% accurate, 90% dumb nationalism and 100% fun. 🙂

  275. Ted Says:

    @Sophie #273:

    “According to Luo Zhewen, director of the architecture department at the State Administration of Cultural Heritage and honorary chairman of the Cultural Artifact Association, ‘whoever bought the bronzes at such a price, he/she must be an idiot (冤大头)…(the bronze worth) less than one million RMB. More than that, and the buyer should figure that he’s been cheated.’”

    The market set the price, even without Cai it looks like the pieces would have sold around their estimate, so it seems that Luo Zhewen underestimated their value.

  276. miaka9383 Says:

    @Sophie
    You see Chinese people fighting… and fighting is a Good thing…
    However, if the Chinese Government and the citizens of China wants West to pay attention, there needs to be a loud, constructive protest. Its good to be angry about injustice of the world. I don’t think the “Western” world pay attention to insults such as references to animals, their level of intelligence, sense of justice or anything personal.
    At the same time, Chinese people needs to speak up if they are dissatisfy with their own government, and these types of opinions should not be censored even if majority of Chinese do not feel the same way. To me, it seemed a little bit too idealistic to think your own government is just as good and peachy like they portray in the media and the rest of the world is evil.

    I don’t believe in anything that the media tells me, I like to search for myself and read other blogger’s opinions…

    I just wish more and more chinese netizens open their channel of communication talk about the internal problems, as well as the external problems and instead of taking a “Victim” attitude they should take the “Leader” attitude. I don’t see that. I haven’t seen that. The last 2-3 years that I have been surfing the forums, I see insults and unconstructive opinions. A good example would be the Taiwanese vs Mainlander Chinese debates about Taiwan: This is how the conversation deteroriates: (example)

    ————————————————————————————————————————————————
    “You guys are our bretherens and we should reunite for the benefit of the Huaren race”-Mainland
    “No, we don’t want to. We have been our own government since 1949 and we have no wish to reunite with a communist party that restricts my opinions”-Taiwan
    So it starts off civil then 30 min later it comes to:
    “You stupid dumb pretentious Chinese people, you should go be Japanese and go be their slaves.” Mainlander
    or something of the sort “Taiwan is American’s dogs”…and so on and so forth…

    and the other side would be:
    “Stupid red commies” or “zhi na ren” or some outlandish degrading insults greeting their mothers….
    ————————————————————————————————————————————————
    A leading countries citizens would not allow the conversation to deteriorate. I may be wrong but I believe in that.

  277. Sophie Says:

    @ Steve #189
    For your question 2,
    “History, to many Chinese, has thousands years of memory. A century or two is their recent past.” Ok, I’ll buy that. So I’d gather what that means is that China sees its history as being the work of millenia rather than a couple of centuries. If that is the case, why is “western exploitation” constantly brought up as causing a collective sense of shame when it only lasted about 100 years? According to the Chinese time frame, that is like a blink of an eye, isn’t it?”

    In the thousands years of Chinese history, China were conquered by outsiders several times, but Chinese culture had never been seriously challenged. After settling in China, the invaders always adapted the Chinese culture and eventually assimilated with Chinese. But, in the past two centuries, for the first time in the history, Chinese civilisation was defeated by another civilisation. Chinese people, for the first time in the history, started questioning and even lost confidence in Chinese culture and value. So, even it’s just like ‘a blink of an eye’, it’s unprecedentedly painful. When will people let go the bad memory of the past two centuries? I think when China becomes a strong country again.

  278. Steve Says:

    @ Hong Konger #271: See? I needed your Aussie/English dictionary to figure out what it meant. 😉

    @ Sophie #273: I agree with Ted; they are worth whatever someone is willing to pay for them. Personally I think it’s ridiculous but as P.T. Barnum once said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

    I’m not sure how Miaka feels, but I have no problem with Chinese people sounding off about whatever displeases them. It’s when the government is constantly crying wolf over every little thing that it gets old. After awhile, it just becomes “noise” and no one pays any attention to it, so it no longer has an effect.

    However, the people’s voice is only a one way street. If they sound off about their own government on the net, it is quickly blocked by the Great Firewall. Does that mean people are only allowed to feel angry and protest as long as it has nothing to do with China’s internal conditions? Doesn’t this make their voice unbalanced?

    @ Miaka #276: At FM we’re trying to keep the door of opinion as wide open as we can without letting it degenerate into endless ad hominum attacks and we have no patience with profanity and attacking members of your family, etc, as admin has told you. We’re working on coming up with a consistent policy so everyone is on the same playing field. My personal rule is: would I say this to someone if we were talking face to face? If someone told me face to face that they thought my opinion was wrong or silly or even ridiculous, I wouldn’t have a problem with it as long as they explained WHY they felt it was, and then we could bat it around. One of us might change our opinion after hearing another’s explanation, for instance, as I have on this blog in conversations with Allen and William. But if anyone called me some of the things I’ve read in a few of these exchanges… well, put it this way, no one has ever talked to me like that face to face.

    @ Sophie #277: Thank you very much for your explanation. If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like you to go deeper into this. Who do you think conquered Chinese civilization in the past two centuries? When I was in China, the culture seemed pretty “Chinese” to me and I’ve spent enough time in Japan to know that there isn’t any Japanese influence. From my perspective, it seems the biggest change to the culture was from Communist morality after the revolution. Changes to religious beliefs and the status of women seem to be the two most obvious ones, but I’m sure there are others.

    Do you think the civilization was defeated by Marxism, which is from Europe? Is that what you meant? Or do you think it was defeated by Jiang Qing’s moral code? 😀

    @ colin #256: I wanted to echo what Allen mentioned. You seem like a smart guy with something to say and I’d like to know more about your opinions, but you have a habit of phrasing your opinion in such a way as to antagonize the reader. Sure, profanity is unacceptable and that’s easy for everyone to understand but when it comes to opinion, “one man’s meat is another man’s poison”, as Aesop once wrote. If you don’t agree with someone, I’d sure like to know why. But dismissive comments and ad hominum attacks without any given reason for your objections are lazy arguments, and will be summarily dismissed by most everyone else. Spaghetti logic? Why? The fact that you called it “spaghetti logic” is clever enough for me to think your reasoned argument would be pretty good. 🙂

  279. miaka9383 Says:

    @Steve
    This was the exchange that I often see mainlanders sounding off….. which doesn’t sit well with me at all. I appreciate that admin has acknowledge my complaints.
    I try to do my homework and forming my opinion before I post them. I like to stay underground so I can learn something.
    No one has talked like that to me face to face either, since I am a 4’9″ asian girl I am fiesty face to face.. lol
    I will call out whoever that has offended me. And that is my personal rule. However, I go by another rule sometimes… the rtard rule… because I don’t want to get myself so upset and becomes a rtard.
    And I definitely agree with crying wolf comment but I have a problem that this same type of mentality flows down to the netizens. Sometimes I just want to tell them to get over themselves……. yet I resist the urge….

  280. Steve Says:

    @ miaka: Watch out for the petite ladies, they pack a wallop! 😉

    Completely off subject, do you ever get over to Sadie’s on 4th Street? When I lived there, they were a hole-in-the-wall joint inside a bowling alley but always packed, so they finally decided to open that big restaurant. I also used to like El Pinto, further north on the same street. Things can change over time so I was wondering if they are both still good.

    Three blondes were walking through the forest when they came upon a set of tracks.

    The first blonde said, “Those are deer tracks.”
    The second blonde said, “No, those are elk tracks.”
    The third blonde said, “You’re both wrong, those are moose tracks.”
    The blondes were still arguing when the train hit them.

  281. Raj Says:

    miaka, thanks for your great comments!

    @ 270

    Should I take those opinions as Chinese are happy?
    If that is the case.. then why is it things like Charter 08 and other opposition opinion are blocked out… or bulldog got shut down because someone did a piece on Charter 08…

    That is a good point to make. If the CCP maintains that it has a support of a clear majority of Chinese citizens, why does it feel the need to limit their rights?

    I suppose the answer is that even if a majority of Chinese are “happy”, the government won’t allow for the chance that things like Charter 08 will change their minds or engage those who aren’t satisfied. It’s just so paranoid over such things that it often overreacts. One could also argue that it’s arrogant and doesn’t like challenges to its authority so doesn’t see why it should make it easier for people to criticise it.

  282. Shane9219 Says:

    @Ted #269

    I did a straight talk, that opinion reflected a school of thought, by no means it is a complete picture. But I can understand sharp words could be uncomfortable to some ears.

    After decades of dealing with the West, Chinese learned they have to be assert when it is necessary, ’cause it is often not up to them to define rules of a game, and they don’t hold the power of rhetoric (话语权)

    The folliowign article piece offer a much rational and complete picture. You can see Chinese exhausted every mean possible to bring back those bronze items. The other 5 pieces were paid for millions dollars at auctions.

    http://finance.ifeng.com/news/history/scbq/20090306/425243.shtml

  283. miaka9383 Says:

    @Steve
    OMG you lived Albuquerque? WHY? I am so tired of this state and place… but Sadies is ok place to go eat and everyone loves el Pinto… *sigh* Don’t tell me you are going through green chilli withdraws?

  284. Steve Says:

    @ Shane9219: For some reason, your comment got caught by the spam filter. I released the latest one and deleted the previous, since they are very similar. If you post something, especially with a link and it doesn’t show up right away, give it time and it’ll appear as soon as one of the editors checks the filter. Sorry about that!

    @ miaka: Lived there from ’83 to ’86 when it was very different than today. Why? I was transferred there on business for a couple of years, back when Intel was building the original fabs in Rio Rancho. Yeah, I miss Hatch chilis but make do with fish tacos in San Diego. I liked the Jemez Mountains and Valle Grande, used to pass it on the way home from Los Alamos Nat’l. Labs every other week. Have you hiked La Luz yet?

    You ought to get out this way, far more Asian food that is actually edible and a much larger Chinese American community. You can even join the Taiwanese American Community Center! 😉

  285. neutrino Says:

    Did anyone mention this before? I did not read all the posts here. But here are my two cents: If Berge did not want to return the relics to the mainland government because of the human rights and the tibet issue, why not gave it to the government in Taiwan? They sure have a democratic society that respects human rights, and the DL even visited there some time ago and have quite a following.

    On the other note, if CCP is really so offended, why not lodge offical claims to the vast collection of artifacts in Britain, France, and US to a lesser extent. So many of them are far more superior pieces than these two very mediocre bronze sculptures.

    I attended a graduation banquet at Walton a couple of years ago, staged in the U Penn Museum. We dined right next to those magnificent ancient Chinese Murals, sculptures, paintings, and it was almost surreal.

    My problem is that a lot of these Chinese artifacts, unlike the U Penn collection, were not exactly appreciated by its audience, and most of them never see the light of the day. Instead, they are in the storage. It would be wise for the Chinese government to propose that these museums to continue to hold some of those collections, as a effort of sharing chinese culture with the rest of the world. However, for a lot of those collection that don’t ever get to be seen, it’s better to repatriate them, and there are plenty of small to medium museums in china that would be eager to display them. For me, this would be the right thing to do.

    The Chinese government also needs to be creative. For example, they can offer to give the U Penn musem the replicas of the whole set of sic horse base reliefs, in exchange of the two original ones now in U penn, to reunite the set. (http://www.museum.upenn.edu/new/exhibits/galleries/china.shtml) There are a lot of ways to do this, but all i hear if the foreign ministry’s complaints”. Some local museums in US, such as Denver, even have better chinese art collection than most of chinese local museums. And I think it’s quite ridiculous.
    @Miaka 83

    Do you live in ABQ? I live in Santa Fe. 🙂

  286. Steve Says:

    @ neutrino: That’s an interesting thought. My guess is that Berge never had any intention of giving them away so he attached conditions that he knew China would never meet.

    But if he had given them to Taiwan, I wonder if Taiwan would have turned right around and given them to China? My guess is that most of the people there would favor a return to Beijing as a goodwill gesture. Then Beijing would remove all the missiles targeted at Taiwan and there’d be peace in the world. Oh well.. nice thought. *sigh*

    Wow, two bloggers from the Land of Enchantment!! Miaka, after eating all that green chili for so long, are you now a spicy girl??? 😉

  287. neutrino Says:

    Instead of complaining, the Chinese government could find more creative ways to initiate repatriation. For example, they could offer replica of the whole set of six horse base reliefs to the U Penn Museum, in exchange of the two original ones that’s housed there (U Penn claims that they acquired them through legal, private donations, etc. BUt you know the story. http://www.museum.upenn.edu/new/exhibits/galleries/china.shtml), to reunite the whole set.

    By not simply adhering to the claim to all lost/stolen/looted artifacts that are now scattered around a world, and instead trying to obtain those unseen artifacts (which are the majority), I think it would do much good for the Chinese culture. For God’s sake, a local museum such as the art gallery in Denver, now has a better ancient chinese art collection than a lot of chinese provincial museums.

  288. neutrino Says:

    @ Admin,

    Somehow my posts have been marked as spams. 🙁 What did I say to offend people? 🙂

  289. Steve Says:

    @ neutrino: It was probably the link that moved it there. We had to tighten up after that last troll attack.

  290. Otto Kerner Says:

    Steve #243,

    I respect your preference for not having an opinion in the absence of solid evidence. Unfortunately, the solid evidence does not seem to be at all unlikely to be forthcoming (talking to one or a small number of Tibetans would be of little avail — I’m sure there is at least one Tibetan in Tibet who enthusiastically supports the government, and at least one Tibetan in Tibet who enthusiastically supports independence).

    I think it’s hard in a democracy to keep anything that’s popular off the table. The basic of idea of democracy is that you tell people they can vote for what they want, so it’s tricky to then say, “You can vote for what you want, except not X or Y”. I’m sure it can be done for a while, but this does not seem like a stable arrangement.

    That sums up the central government negotiating position quite nicely.

    This means that the central government’s negotiating position is quite compatible with the possibility that the central government believes that the Tibetan public is deeply disloyal. That they believe it is quite compatible with the possibility that it’s true.

    The government apparently underestimated the Tibetans’ disaffection a lot when they allowed the government-in-exile to send fact-finding missions in 1980, only to find that the missions greeted with enormous enthusiasm even outside of the TAR. The conventional wisdom is that Hu Yaobang’s liberal reforms in the 80s were rewarded with a slap in the face by the uprising in 1989, and the central government is determined not to make the same mistake again.

  291. Shane9219 Says:

    @Sophie #277

    Are Chinese too sensitive or too easy to get upset? Such question was asked many times on this forum. I say no. That is nothing in comparison to anti-semitism movement in the US. However, I agree that their expression is strong at times with mixed emotion and indignity. And the main reason is that those historic issues keep popping up in their faces in the modern time. You saw already how Tibet issue was imposed on China last year.

    The decline of Chinese civilization has many reasons. Some recent scholars think that fate was sealed as earlier as Han Dynasty when the ruling class embraced Confucian doctrine as their sole ideology while banning others. We also knew that the most popluar POV is that science and trade activities, for a long period of time in China’s history, were often belitted or even banned by the ruling class.

  292. Steve Says:

    @ Otto Kerner #290: I agree, sooner or later in a normal constitutional democracy a popular issue will be brought to the table, since whoever brings it reaps the reward of being re-elected by a vote wielding public.

    You brought up a good point concerning previous behaviour in Tibet during the ’80s. My take on this might not be the usual one. I think the less time the DL spends in Tibet, the greater his power since he’s looked up to as the great hope of the people, a man who can solve any problem. If he was in Tibet and actually had to solve those problems, then a more realistic view of his limits would be understood by the people and his “divine” status would diminish. Potential satisfies everyone but reality only satisfies some. That’s why martyrs are so powerful; there’s nothing you can do to diminish them.

    @ Shane #291: You wrote “Are Chinese too sensitive or too easy to get upset? Such question was asked many times on this forum. I say no. That is nothing in comparison to anti-semitism movement in the US.”

    What are you talking about? If you believe Chinese aren’t too sensitive, I’m fine with that. But how did anti-semitism get in there? And in the US? Outside of Israel, there’s less anti-semitism in the US than any other country in the world. Have you spent much time actually talking to Jewish people who live in the US? Did you happen to notice that the president’s chief of staff is Jewish? Do you know who Israel’s closest ally is? And how is the sensitivity of Chinese related to anti-anything? You completely lost me here…

  293. Shane9219 Says:

    @Steve #292

    I must omit some keywords… it should be anti-defamation to anti-semitism movement.

    Thanks for catching that 🙁

  294. Steve Says:

    @ Shane: Wow, big difference! No worries, you were probably tired when you wrote it. 😛

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