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Country Summary for CHINA

I.  Relevant Legislation
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II.  Regulated Cultural Property

Definitions

The State places under its protection the following cultural relics within the boundaries of the People's Republic of China:
(1) sites of ancient culture, ancient tombs, ancient architectural structures, cave temples, stone carvings and murals that are of historical, artistic or scientific value;
(2) important modern and contemporary historic sites, material objects and typical buildings that are related to major historical events…or [that] are of great significance for education or for the preservation of historical data;
(3) valuable works of art and handicraft articles dating from various historical periods;
(4) important documents…manuscripts, books and materials, etc. that are of historical, artistic or scientific value; and
(5) typical material objects reflecting the social system, social production or the life of various nationalities in different historical periods.
The criteria…for the verification of cultural relics shall be formulated by the administrative department for cultural relics under the State Council…
Fossils of paleovertebrates and paleoanthropoids of scientific value shall be protected by the State in the same way as cultural relics. (2002 LPCR, Chapter I, Art. 2)

2) Cultural relic collections are divided into precious cultural relics and ordinary cultural relics. Precious cultural relics are divided into the first class, the second class and the third class. Typical cultural relics that have especially important historical, artistic and scientific values are first-class cultural relics; those that have important historical, artistic and scientific values are second-class cultural relics; and those that have relatively important historical, artistic and scientific values are third-class cultural relics. Cultural relics that have certain historical, artistic and scientific values are ordinary cultural relics. (2001 Rating Standards, Preamble)

Cultural relic recognition refers to the administrative process by cultural relic bureaus of recognizing cultural resources with historical, artistic, and scientific value. (2009 Decree No. 46 §1)

Examples

The following movable cultural relics shall be owned by the State:
(1) cultural relics unearthed within the territories of the People's Republic of China, except where otherwise provided for …;
(2) cultural relics collected and preserved by [State-owned] institutions [such as the] armed forces, State-owned enterprises, public institutions, etc.;
(3) cultural relics collected and purchased by the State;
(4) cultural relics donated to the State by citizens, legal persons and other organizations; and
(5) other cultural relics owned by the State as provided for by laws. (2002 LPCR, Chapter I, Art. 5)

Village structures, industrial patrimony, agricultural patrimony, traditional business brands, cultural routes, cultural landscapes, and other types of special cultural relics shall be recognized [as cultural relics]. (2009 Decree No. 46 §2)

Paleolithic fossils, hominid fossils, Quaternary Period vertebrate fossils related to human activity, …related dig sites and archaeological sites,…culturally significant historical cities [and] neighborhoods and villages [shall be recognized as cultural relics.] (2009 Decree No. 46 §16)

 
Registry

The recognition of cultural relics is the responsibility of local cultural relic bureaus above the county level. Any disputes arising from the recognition of cultural relics will be decided by the provincial level cultural relics administration. Provincial level cultural relic administrations shall act in accordance with the State Council Cultural Relic Administration’s demands in recognizing specific cultural resources as cultural relics. (2009 Decree No. 46 §3)
 

The local cultural relics bureaus may entrust or establish specialized agencies to carry out the specific work of recognition of cultural relics. (2009 Decree No. 46 §8)

Owners, or holders/possesors [may] place written requests [for recognition of movable relics].  Citizens [individuals], legal persons, or other organizations [may] place written requests for recognition of immovable relics.  The local cultural relics bureau shall, through public hearings or other similar forms, elicit public comments [regarding immovable relics.]  The cultural relics bureau shall make a decision and provide an answer. The local cultural relics bureaus above the county level shall inform these owners of their legal obligations and responsibilities as regards the protection of cultural relics. (2009 Decree No. 46 §§6, 7, & 12)

Those who do not agree with the decisions of recognition and classification of cultural relics may apply for administrative reconsideration as provided by the law. (2009 Decree No. 46 §13)

The results of archaeological investigation, prospecting and excavation shall be reported to the administrative department for cultural relics administration under the State Council and to the administrative department for cultural relics under the people's government of the relevant province, autonomous region, or municipality directly under the Central Government. (2002 LPCR, Art. 34)

Excavated archaeological relics shall be registered [and] ... turned over for collection to the ... relevant [jurisdiction] or to the State-owned museums, libraries or other State-owned institutions…. Upon approval by the administrative department for cultural relics under the people's government of the relevant [jurisdiction], institutions engaged in archaeological excavation may retain a small amount of unearthed cultural relics…. (2002 LPCR, Art. 34)


III.  Export Restrictions
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IV.  Ownership Rights and Restrictions
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V.  Violations, Penalties and Sanctions
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VI.  International Conventions and Bilateral Agreements
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Country Contact
for Cultural Property
Wen Dayan
Bureau Chief
State Administration of Cultural Heritage
Foreign Affairs Bureau
No. 83, He Yan Da Jie
DongCheng District
Beijing 100009 Ph: 86-10-5679-2038
F: 86-10-5679-2130

Zhu Ye
Bureau Chief
State Administration of Cultural Heritage
Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan Affairs Bureau
No. 83, He Yan Da Jie
DongCheng District
Beijing 100009 Ph: 86-10-5679-2039