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Search for looted antique oversea falls short

By Zuo Likun (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2010-09-17 11:52
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An ambitious plan to search in Europe and Japan for antiques looted from China's iconic Yuanmingyuan Garden, or the Old Summer Palace, has been shelved due to the toil of overwhelming preparation work and lack of patronage for the project, the Beijing News reported Friday.

Known for its extensive collection of artworks and architectures, the imperial garden was looted and burned to ashes by British and French troops in 1860 during the Second Opium War (1856–1860). To mark the incident's 150th anniversary this year, the garden last October planned a year-long dragnet project to peruse museums and libraries in the US, Europe and Japan, trying to find and catalog its missing antique oversea.

However, after its first-stage mission in US ended in January early this year, which brought back photos of looted artworks, the planned trips to Europe and Japan have never taken off.

"The quantity of looted antiques in Europe is much bigger, especially in Britain and France, so the pre-stage preparation work is much harder," a supervisor at the garden's administration office said.

Another obstacle is the lack of patronages. "We are still trying to contact (them), but none has been decided yet," the official said, adding that as long as adequate endowments are secured, the trips will kick off right away as planned.