Chinese Reactions To Auction Of Stolen Bronze Relics


Christie’s auctioned two bronze statue heads taken from China’s Old Summer Palace by British and French army in 1860. The two heads were part of a fountain that featured the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. Some of the heads are still missing and some were purchased by rich Chinese and returned to China. These two heads were part of Yves Saint Laurent’s art collection and are being auctioned by his long-time partner, Pierre Berger.

chinese-rabbit-bronze-heads-auctioned-by-french-yves-saint-laurent chinese-rat-bronze-heads-auctioned-by-french-yves-saint-laurent

One chinaSMACK reader, Ted, emailed and asked me to translate some comments about this issue. Here are some comments and a poll from two big Chinese BBS.

From Sina:

What do you think of the French court approving the auction of the Yuan Ming Yuan [Old Summer Palace] bronze animal heads?

Total of 113,975 people participated [as of 2009 February 25, 23:36]

Oppose, this is China’s cultural relic, immediately issue an order to forbid the auction, use diplomatic channels to resolve.
89.3% (101,751)

Understandable, this is a legally legitimate auction, unable to be criticized, China can buy them back at a high price.
8.3% (9,453)

Hard to say.
2.4% (2,714)

Comments from Tianya:


What is the use of spending so much money to get these back? Aren’t they just copper faucets? With 200 million, we can make them in pure gold. There are so many national treasures out there, why just focus on these two?


Crazy, if they are in other people’s hands, then it is their’s. If they want to auction them, then let them auction them. If they want to sell them, then let them sell them. There is no need for China to approve it.


Foreigners are simply exploiting Chinese people’s so-called patriotism, intentionally raising the price, and everyone should just ignore them.


Ding, Chinese people’s things should definitely be returned to China.


When did those things become China’s national treasures? Were it not for us buying a few of them a few years ago, who would care about this? Just look at how much the prices have grown over these past few years! They are just waiting for us to go waste our money! It would be better for us to care about those real national treasures that have been lost overseas!


I certainly oppose, but do not scream nonsense about boycotting French goods again, because it is our own countrymen who suffer.


As long as it is not Chinese (or people of Chinese origin) buying, these things would not have any value.


To give them up is also a kind of dignity.


I also do not support buying them back. I simply feel there is no need. This is the entire world’s wealth, not only China’s.


What Chinese people love is this, being elated when our nationality is brutalized. Now, the only thing that can touch the Chinese people’s G-spot probably is insulting the Chinese.
So if there is an insult to the Chinese, we climax.
If there is no insult to the Chinese, we will create an insult to the Chinese to climax.


The government does not even make an appearance, what does that mean? The government is losing face for our countrymen, only issuing some useless statements, what good is it? That the people’s lawyers cannot even find a plaintiff, isn’t the government embarrassing the people?


I think that this time the government should stand up for the people, do something for the country, instead of depending on us to be a shield for the government, strongly condemning this and condemning that when something happens, always just jokes. The government needs to do something meaningful, at worst just sever relations.


Truly fucking nonsense…what do we want those two pieces of scrap metal for? What use would they serve? They are China’s disgrace. We should focus on developing the military, developing the economy, and if there is an opportunity, we can also invade them, take the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, etc., bring them all over to China, then ask a high price and just tell them to buy them back…I truly do not understand why China’s government is always acts so low-key, reserved, taciturn, silent in the international community…can they not be more arrogant???

Comments from Sina:


My opinion is, however they took them, one day we  will use the same method to take them back.


Seeing China’s plundered cultural relics being auctioned is as if I was painfully seeing the shadow of the time period our ancestors were killed, robbed, and pillaged!!! It cannot be like this!!! Now the French want to again hurt the Chinese people a second time!!!
French people, how can you be this way!!!
This is the benefit that the French people chase after??? What benefit can the French people get from hurting the Chinese people’s genuine feelings!!!
The Chinese people cannot agree to this!!!
Resolutely oppose!!


The French’s way of thinking is a little hard to understand.
If they consider the current economic situation,
they should be standing on the Chinese side.


Getting angry with the French is to flatter them. The French treat politics like a toy, playing with it very happily.


We should keep going! Keep up our tough stance!
Go to hell, evil French creatures!


I really hope for the current China to truly become strong and powerful, and not return to the period when the Summer Palace was destroyed.


They are always saying how civilized they are~~but actually they are not even fit to be human anymore~~They should just vanish from this world~~Our own things and we still need to listen to their commands?~~Sooner or later they will regret it~~sooner or later we will settle things with them~~make them pay us an even bigger price~~so us Chinese sons and daughters must all jia you~~and do our part for our motherland~~jia you, my motherland~~


When there are different positions and different ways to explain history, only by becoming powerful can you rewrite history.
The roar of the weak in a low moan not worth mentioning to the strong.
History cannot be forgotten, so use this as motivation, to speak with power/strength.


Why should we go buy what belongs to us?
Just leave it with them, it is evidence of their crime.
There will come a day when they will unconditionally return them to us.
I believe that day will come soon.


Chinese people’s artwork, to be known by the world, is also our contribution. Although this kind of process looks like there is a little humiliation, but in the midst of this process, what we need most is reflection rather than simply feeling aggrieved/wronged.


French people are truly shameless!


Do they still think China is the China of several decades ago?
If they want to talk about conditions, even one is unacceptable!

More English discussion about this issue can be found at Fool’s Mountain.


Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.


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