Minister and DCM Deng Hongbo attending the ceremony of repatriating ancient Chinese cultural property to China by the U.S.


Mr. Deng Hongbo, Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission of the Chinese Embassy in the United States, accepted a couple of items of Chinese cultural relics from the U.S. Government at a ceremony jointly held by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the Smithsonian Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. on March 11, 2011. These ancient Chinese cultural properties had been seized by U.S. law enforcement officers in three separate operations in New York, Alaska and New Mexico.




In his remarks at the ceremony, Minister Deng expressed his appreciation to the ICE, the CBP and other U.S. organizations and individuals for making the repatriation of Chinese cultural heritage possible. He described the repatriation as "another telling example" of the close law enforcement cooperation between the two countries. The DCM also called on the relevant authorities to cooperate more closely with each other to combat illegal trafficking of cultural relics and better protect cultural heritage of mankind, making it another highlight in China-U.S. cooperative partnership.




ICE Deputy Director Kumar Kibble and CBP Deputy Commissioner David V. Aguilar briefed their audience on how the U.S. law enforcement seized these items as part of the Operation Great Wall, an initiative targeting illicit importations originating from China. They both pledged to work more closely with their Chinese counterpart to make their cooperation more productive.


This is the first time that the United States handed over Chinese cultural relics to China since the two governments signed the MOU on combating cultural property trafficking in January 2009. The items repatriated at the ceremony include several "terracotta riders" and a "Buddha head sculpture", which could date back to as early as the 6th century and the 7th century respectively.


About 100 people from the Chinese Embassy, the ICB, the CBP, and the Smithsonian Institution, as well as U.S. trainees under the Cultural Property Training Program jointly organized by the ICE and the U.S. State Department attended the ceremony.



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