Advocacy News

February 3, 2005

Support for U.S.-China Agreement

In response to ongoing looting of their archaeological and cultural heritage, the People’s Republic of China has requested a bi-lateral agreement with the United States under Article 9 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention and implemented by the U.S. Cultural Property Implementation Act. If China’s request is granted the U.S. would impose import restrictions on a wide range of Chinese antiquities. Artifacts that are accompanied by a legal export permit from China, or that can be documented to have left China before the date the import restrictions were imposed or that are part of a temporary exhibition would be exempted from the restrictions.

The U.S. Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC), the body within the State Department that recommends on import restrictions, will meet to consider the request from the People’s Republic of China on February 17-18, 2005, and on February 17, the Committee will hold an open session to receive oral public comment on the China request. Several members of the AIA will be present at this session to support the request and others have provided written statements in advance of the session.

Jane Waldbaum, AIA President, has written a letter to the CPAC Chair, strongly urging CPAC to grant China’s request. The non-profit group SAFE (Saving Antiquities for Everyone) also strongly recommends supporting China’s request. SAFE also has extensive information on the issue on their website including an online form to join their petition in support of the request. Patty Gerstenblith, Professor of Law, De Paul University College of Law, Chicago and President, Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation has also written a letter to the CPAC in support of China’s request.

Update: April 25, 2005

SAFE has now posted a report on the CPAC meeting concerning the People’s Republic of China’s request for restrictions on importation of Chinese archaeological and ethnographic material to the US. Included are details on the individual presenters and discussion of the issues.

Update: March 1, 2005

Non-profit group SAFE (Saving Antiquities for Everyone) attended the February 17 public session before the US Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) in support of the People’s Republic of China’s request for restrictions on importation of Chinese archaeological and ethnographic material to the US. SAFE Founder and Executive Director, Cindy Ho, during her testimony, said: “The looting of cultural heritage and the illicit antiquities trade are man-made problems…it is our duty to put an end to this problem – or at least try to stem the illegal traffic – which is now damaging China’s most valued non-renewable resource: its 7,000-year cultural heritage.” In addition, nearly 500 signed petitions were presented. The petitions are tangible public support for China’s request for assistance from the US Government under Article 9 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention. Patty Gerstenblith, former public representative for CPAC and currently Professor of Law and Director, Program in Cultural Heritage Law, DePaul University, also stated: “SAFE’s presence at the public session goes a long way towards raising public awareness about cultural heritage loss. The idea of an online petition is also a first.”

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