US returns ancient cultural artifacts to China

Washington, Dec 11 (IANS) The US on Thursday returned 22 Chinese artifacts and a dinosaur fossil to China, highlighting the two world powers’ cooperation to counter illicit trafficking of archeological objects.

“Their return to China will facilitate our fight against illicit trade in archeological objects, and help us better preserve cultural heritage for our future generations,” Cui Tiankai, Chinese ambassador to the US, said during a repatriation ceremony here.

As one of the important deliverables of President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the US in September, China and the US reaffirmed their commitment to enhance cooperation on preserving cultural heritage by agreeing on returning forfeited Chinese artifacts, Cui said.

The dinosaur fossil was estimated to be approximately 120 million years old, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a press release.

The cultural artifacts, including jade disks, bronze trays and other items, dated back as far as 1,600 B.C., ICE said, adding that the items were recovered by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New York, Cleveland and Miami.

“Fossils and treasures like these will always be targeted by bad actors, but we continue to investigate these crimes and repatriate them to their rightful owners,” said ICE’s deputy director, Daniel Ragsdale.

In accordance with a bilateral agreement the US and China signed in 2009, the two countries work together closely to prevent the illicit trafficking of archeological objects.

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