the art newspaper, 02 March 2006
China and Italy team up to fight illicit trade
The joint effort will use satellite technology to help protect
By Lucian Harris
LONDON. China and Italy have signed a treaty aimed at preventing the
looting and illicit export of antiquities.
The agreement was signed in Beijing by Shan Jixiang director of the
State Administration of Cultural Heritage and Italian Culture Minister
Rocco Buttiglione to mark the launch of the year of Italy in China at
the end of January.
Speaking at the ceremony, Shan Jixiang said that the illicit trade in
antiquities deserved greater international attention.
The agreement sets out a programme of co-operation that will see a task
force of Chinese agents travel to Italy to receive specialist training
from the unit of Carabinieri, Italy’s military police, devoted to the
preservation of cultural heritage.
The two countries have also established channels for the rapid exchange
of information on matters relating to the smuggling of antiquities. This
is set to include the use of CUSPIS (Cultural Heritage Space Management
System), a scheme co-ordinated by the Rome-based firm Next, which
proposes to utilise the Galileo satellite navigation system established
by the European Space Agency for purposes of heritage protection.
Penalties for smuggling antiquities in China can be harsh; in recent
years there have been a number of executions. China is currently
pressuring the US to impose a ban on the import of all art and
antiquities dating before 1911. Critics of the proposed ban say that it
would have little effect on the illicit trade as the domestic market in
China is growing.
In January, the US renewed import restrictions on Italian antiquities
for five years. Italy has launched similar training programmes with
Cyprus, Mozambique and Guatemala.
with kind regards,
Matthias Arnold (Art-Eastasia list)
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