Last week, François-Henri Pinault, the head of the French luxury group PPR/Kering and French business delegation visiting China with French President François Hollande, returned two of the bronze Chinese zodiac animal heads looted from the Old Summer Palace to the Chinese people as a gift.
The return of the rabbit and rat bronze statue heads seems to have touched a sensitive patriotic nerve with Chinese people and resulted in an interesting reaction following news of a contract for 60 Airbus aircraft from China’s Civil Aviation Supplies Holding Company and French carmaker Renault’s plans to set up a factory in Wuhan to produce 150,000 vehicles per year.
Many Chinese netizens regarded this as a decent deal for the French:
@Panorama_SH: They returned to us two water taps/faucets [fountainheads], expressed that China’s chicken can be eaten, and in return walked away with contracts for 60 Airbus planes, a Renault factory for 150,000 vehicles, as well as an long-term agreement with China Guangdong Nuclear. Where else can you find such [favorable] business deals?!
@寒梅傲冬居士: The political significance is greater than the actual value of the cultural relics.
@July滴七月: I’ve discovered that some people in China are beginning to suffer from paranoid persecution. If they don’t return the them, then they are robbers, and if they do return them, then they’re just doing it for show… Can’t we just say thank you and accept [the return]? What the use of writing an editorial and then an investigations… If we ourselves had just carefully watched over our things at the time, would things be like as they are now?
Comments on NetEase:
Historical relics belong to the world, and they might be taken care of better in Western countries, where freak incidents like Destroy the Four Olds won’t happen.
网易山东省济南市网友: (responding to above)
Return the historical relics to China and they’ll immediately become the prey for corrupt officials, where one day if they are not stolen, then they are replaced with a fake substitute. Don’t believe me? Just watch, with this post as testament!
China’s true friend.
夏小公爵 [网易美国网友]： (responding to above)
1860, Anglo-French forces set fire to the Old Summer Palace, with the rat head, rabbit head, and other 12 bronze Zodiac animal statues disappearing abroad.
2009 February, Christie’s auctions the rat and rabbit heads in Paris, China sues Christie’s without effect, Chinese businessman Cai Mingchao refuses to pay after winning the auction, inciting controversy.
2013 April, France’s Pinault family announces in Beijing that they will donate the rat and rabbit heads to China at no cost. The Pinault family controls the Bordeaux Chateau Latour vineyards and the French Christie’s auction business.
Hehe, these two fountainheads sure has earned the French a lot of face. Let’s have a bottle of Lafite!
Was it in exchange for 60 Airbus airplanes?
Philip Qian of Marketing to China contributed to this article and translation.