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Cai Mingchao: Hero or fool for his auction gambit?

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New Express
March 3, 2009

Most of today's newspapers ran with the story of Cai Mingchao, the collector who announced yesterday that although he had submitted the winning bids for two bronze animal heads taken from the Old Summer Palace, he would not be paying the 31.49 million euros.

In his announcement, Cai stated that "every Chinese would have done the same as I did. It's just that I got the opportunity. I have fulfilled my duty."

Cai's justification of his decision as a patriotic move has inspired polarized reactions among the public, leaving newspapers unable to agree for the moment whether Cai is a national hero or just a badass who doesn't play by the rules. With the big ideological issue unresolved, media conversations are largely devoted to utilitarian arguments about the gains and losses of the parties involved.

Some people criticize Cai for damaging the global image of the Chinese people by dishonestly bidding on items which he had no intention to buy. He may have damaged his future prospects at art auctions, but they believe that the consequences of defaulting on the payment will ultimately fall on the Chinese people as a whole by sabotaging their credibility.

Others believe that Cai made a smart move by successfully bringing the issue to a wider international audience, allowing the Chinese people's discontent to be heard. In addition, doing it at a high personal cost makes him nothing less than a hero.

As to rumors that Christie's still holds Cai's guarantee money and will claim it as a penalty, The Beijing News quotes one of Cai's friends who says that Cai was invited to the auction as a VIP and didn't pay any money in advance.

Cai has another excuse for not paying. Referring to an order issued by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage the day after the auction, he noted that documents must be provided to prove that all artifacts shipped into or out of China are from "legal" sources. Since China's government has deemed the two auctioned items to be illegal, Christie's would not be able to deliver them to Cai even if he paid for them.

Cai said, "As a Chinese, I have to comply with regulations made by China's government....If the two auctioned items cannot enter China, of course I won't pay."

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There are currently 62 Comments for Cai Mingchao: Hero or fool for his auction gambit?.

Comments on Cai Mingchao: Hero or fool for his auction gambit?

This guy looks like a farmer. I doubt he's who the media claims he is (art expert, etc.)

Idiot.

He should have stuck to 1 story:

Documents must be provided to prove that all artifacts shipped into or out of China are from "legal" sources.

Idiot.

any authority information for this auction?

The last justification reeks with stupidity, if he knew the relics can't enter China then bidding them has made him a SMUGGLER, and in turn, he shall be held criminally accountable by the same regulations he used as excuse.

I tend to believe that he was just uninformed about the fact that everyone was against buying it back before he placed the bid, and when he found out it was too late so he had to retreat.

And some say it's part of a grand plan. Guess we will have to wait and see.

For a silly stunt (never mind it probably constitutes intentional fraud - bidding with no actual intention of paying, rather than an inability to pay - any lawyer like to comment?) he will never be allowed near another international auction again. Brilliant move!

75% Chinese people support him! And that is enough.

My what a real patriot this guy is--so much so that he lives outside of China?

More of the same hypocrisy.

he will never be allowed near another international auction again
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a huge smear on his credit record means he will have to pay an extraordinary amount of deposit in future bidding, and no bank will ever issue a LoC to him.

Really? Because Huanqiu Shibao was crowing about 70% of people in their online poll supporting the move, and this is a paper whose readership will usually be 85-90+% on the nationalistic side of any of their lame polls.

(Best Global Times "poll" was the one with only one option- "condolences to the deceased" French people who died in cold weather- because I suppose they knew, as born out in the comments section, that most of their scumbag readership is pleased as punch when French people die these days.)

Well, surprise surprise, if his intention is stopping the auction even temporarily, he made it, right? It maybe a big personal cost to him, but a big gain in other perspectives.

All about perspectives, people said this many times. Wait and see.

Damn moderation queue/slow typing. Obviously I was responding to the "75% support" post.

I'm glad Cai Mingchao did this. It will help show the world what a scary bunch of nationalists the Chinese are becoming.

Would be interested to see if he'll soon be investigated about his record of faithful and lovingly paid taxes to the CCP coffers.

Usually fame and glory are what bring down the rich in China. Patriots or not.

three thoughts:

1. Cai said:

"As a Chinese, I have to comply with regulations made by China's government....If the two auctioned items cannot enter China, of course I won't pay."

nice try. but standard auction terms require that bidders warrant, or "promise," to accept delivery of the item bid upon. Cai promised to accept delivery when he cast his first bid, at the latest; perhaps even sooner depending on Christie's auction terms. failure to pay is fraud plain and simple, China's laws on relics notwithstanding.

2. if these had been Tibetan relics looted during a Chinese military action, and had the bidder who refused to pay been Tibetan, most Westerners would be more than sympathetic to the bidder's "protest."

3. had the relics been auctioned to Cai at a price far lower than expected, it's doubtful that he would refuse payment on any principles of historical dignity.

from nytimes:
"On the surface, it appears that the auction house would have had little reason to doubt Mr. Cai’s bona fides in advance of the sale. The general manager of Xiamen Harmony Art International Auction Company in Fujian Province in southeastern China, Mr. Cai paid a record $15 million in 2006 for a Ming dynasty bronze Buddha statue, for example."

2. if these had been Tibetan relics looted during a Chinese military action, and had the bidder who refused to pay been Tibetan, most Westerners would be more than sympathetic to the bidder's "protest."
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ahaaha so true.

Someone from the Foreign Ministry said something earlier about the auction hurting the Chinese people's feelings.

How hurt were they about the great harm done to the country's history during the Cultural Revolution?

The items smashed, the books burned. Who has been punished for all of that?

If the bronze heads were in China then, they probably would have been melted down anyway.

I have to say it again. Chinese people are ignorant. They are not allowed to hear all sides to the arguments on anything about their own history or country.

not 75% of chinese but exact 100%.maybe that 75% is by non chinese.are the arrogant comments agaist mr.Cai come from the pigs + the frogs who are China invaders's descendents?Only these arrogant bullies need to worry about Chinese nationalism.

not 75% of chinese but exact 100%.maybe that 75% is by non chinese.
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at least make it 99.9 because i am not apart of it and i do not wish to be "represented" by random people. but i guess when you are too used of getting randomly represented you start representing others.

"if he knew the relics can't enter China then bidding them has made him a SMUGGLER"

The regulation against the Christies was passed after the bidding. Get the facts right before you comment, please.

"This guy looks like a farmer. I doubt he's who the media claims he is (art expert, etc.)"

This just shows your own ignorance. Do a chcek on Cai's background please.

For those who can't read, the government order was issued on the 26th of February - the day after the auction ended, which makes this a neat and co-ordinated ruse on the Chinese part. Cai Mingchao is saying that he did intend to buy the relics but after he'd won the bid, the order was issued and now he can't get what he had bidded for because of the dubious origin of the items.

Now it seems the ball's in Christie's court. Let's see how they respond.

Peteryang, serously, you look like a fool when you did not even read the article and ran your big mouth.

Just because one didn't know (in this case I' m highly suspicious the "cultured" Mr. YSL actually was not aware) the artifacts were stolen goods, does not make it legit. All the trash talk about China and Mr. Cai is just attempts to distract attention from that.
As for those who gleefully announced that Cai will "never be allowed near another international auction again", he probably decided after being suckered year after year by those "international auctions", it may not be a bad thing to stay away from them.

In the early half of the 20th century, Lu Xun said famously that we should hold "fair play" for a while while opponents play foul. Guys, these are looted relics, after all. China tried to stop this auction using all fair means. Nobody listened. It's all "talking to the tiger about getting its fur".

What Cai did was a last resort. If looters stop selling their booties, then who would do something like this at great personal risk?

What is legal may not be moral. Christie's auction might be legal, but still immoral.

On the other hand, I'm not sure if what Cai did was the best strategy. I wonder if no Chinese buyer participated in such auctions, at what prices would these items sell? Might have been better to ignore such auctions altogether.

I couldn't see why the Chinese government is not justified to request the return of the relics.First, two wrongs don't make one right, what happened in Cultural Revolution doesn't automatically make someone else a legitimate owner of the bronze heads. Also,the government itself is paralyzed during the Cultural Revolution, with most powerful figures in today's Chinese government being persecuted or exiled (you can look up their biography), hesitate before you hold today's government responsible for damages done to relics by the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution, and I do know stories about Zhou Enlai sending troops to protect the Forbidden Palace and other ancient temples.Further more, even if the government is guilty, reactions among the public show that it's Chinese people who're requesting the relics being returned, and the government "happened to" play a role of getting their voices being heard(not in all cases,of course), all in all, requesting a return of the things you looted from somebody to the original owner, which seems to me is the only central issue here, and perfectly justified for them to do.

Cai is an idiot, yes. He basically helped Christie's jack up the price at the expense of his own reputation, now it looks like they will go to the second highest bidder, if I am correct.

Paul, yes the Chinese have hurt their own feelings many times, with like what happened during CR. Still that doesn't justify what the "civilized" Europeans did.

More than anything, Mr. Cai's action accentuates the hypocricy and ignorance of China and its people towards their own history and actions, and the nationa's current brand of blind nationalism.

Would also be interesting to know what was Mr. Cai buying and selling previously to be able to spend 15 million dollars on a Ming Dynasty item in 2005.

Call it a stunt, at least it's a successful one.
No one can be absolutely objective about this. We all speak from very different standings.

But don't forget this is happening because of an historical, documented and massive robbery in the first place.
If people really want to weigh the fault, it's not like Cai stole back the heads or something, he simply cancelled the purchase and spoke about it. How evil is that compared to burning down a royal garden.

Personally the frequency of the word hypocrisy is getting annoying btw. In this case Berge's human rights speech was the most hypocritic of all..

The rules preventing it from being imported to China are irrelevant. The bidding price at the auction doesn't include postage and packing to the location of your choice.

After the money is paid he takes posession of the articles and it is then up to him if he wants to keep them in France, export to the US (where he is currently resident), export to China or anywhere else.

The subsequent arrangement of export procedures is entirely up to him. If one particular country doesn't allow it to be imported then he must keep the articles in a country that does permit him to.

The regulation against the Christies was passed after the bidding. Get the facts right before you comment, please.

Peteryang, serously, you look like a fool when you did not even read the article and ran your big mouth.
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Says the big mouth running idiots.

Look, Cai's excuse does NOT matter here, to the french counterpart it's as if Cai didn't say anything at all, they don't care what we say, so it's pointless to discuss what the regulation means, the consequence is one and only one -- Christie re-auctions them, most likely for a much higher price.

So in the end, who will Cai's big show help?

Answer is Christie and Berge!

See? I don't care about how it gets there, I only care about the actual "there".

All I am saying is, this isn't the right way to fight, you can't expect to retrieve them via local court or asking the owner/auction house, the french are fcking arrogant they don't care what we say, not like they ever did.

So I say, use DIPLOMACY, use it, our government, the foreign ministry, get mobilized, prepare the plan, unleash the pressure.

Well, if they don't want to do that, too bad, you're never going to get ANYTHING. This isn't kid crying around for candy, this is freaking international dispute and it shall be treated as one, and acted as one!

Two things. One, what Cai did, while perhaps extreme (like committing seppuku over a late pizza), is to my benefit. Berge said he won't auction the bronzes again.

Second, if you attribute no justice to the Chinese nationalists, you are just fanning their flames. If you have no love for dialogue, go nuke them now like nanheyangrouchuan wants you to do so and get it over with, this interminable wait is also insufferable. The more you attack the Chinese like this, the more inflamed the Chinese become; do you realize how much the ranks of the fenqing swelled because of Free Tibeters in Paris?

Ignoring whether or not the stunt was stupid and the obvious immorality of steaming into someone else's country, trashing it and nicking stuff...

...a lot of the relics that are put up for auction by Chinese sellers may not have exactly watertight provenance. If, say a light-fingered eunuch made off with state treasures as the Qing Dynasty fell, and their relatives are now putting it up for auction, is this also profiting from a type of theft/looting? Thoughts?

"If, say a light-fingered eunuch made off with state treasures as the Qing Dynasty fell, and their relatives are now putting it up for auction, is this also profiting from a type of theft/looting? Thoughts? "

which apparently happened at the old Summer Palace. But not just eunuchs, all kind of locals too. I think a distinction should be drawn by the moral high ground occupiers between the act of burning the palace and the act of looting.

cynic

As long as the owner of relics is the same ethnicity as the people of the nation then its not nearly as bad. Nationalists are very sensitive to foreigners and any transgressions by them, whether real, false, past or present, will aggravate nationalist sentiment and become even more scrutinized. An example is that the communist could destroy and steal a lot of stuff, and although a lot of Chinese are aware and criticize them for it, it doesn't have the same sting as if foreigners did it. Can you imagine if Mao was Japanese? It's not just China though, but every country. If your own 'people' do something bad its not as bad as if 'others' do it, even if its a lot worst. Although this doesn't seem very rational, that's how nationalism works.

Of course, there was no sense of nationalism in China when these statues were looted and no one at that time cared (except for the statue owners maybe), but that's besides the point.

@paul

It HURTS, really really hurts. You were not in China during cultural revolution, how on earth you knew that nobody cares? Ask an ordinary Chinese you met in the street. At that time, my youngest uncle couldn't go to university, because the official said your family had too many uni students, and uni education was poisonous...my another uncle hold an umbrella in a sunny day, somebody asked him why you used an umbrella in such a nice wheather? He replied with no second thought:to stop the sun light. So he was accused to have been against dear Chairman Mao, because Chairman Mao=Sun Light. Yes, during that time, with a paralyzed government(As Justkeeper put it), people were insane.

Please do not say that the two brozen heads wld be melt during cultural revolution. Do you see the point? The two brozen heads AIN'T important at all. And, sometimes, compares with the relics, artefacts and countless so-called culture, to live maybe is more important and meaningful. Do you know how many families burned their treasures from the ancestors during cultural revolution, it was hurting, but they need to do it, because they had no choices. How many wives divorced their husbands during that time? They had to 划清界限, they had no choices.

And please, some foreigners, instead of crying over the spenlendid cultures ruined during the cultural revolution, please pay a bit attention to the human tragedies as well. Hate to say that, but I think some people are heartless, because they care more about so-called culture, but not the living human being.

Unfortunately the Chinese propaganda education is always so successful, I do not like French, the main reason is their ancestors looted and burned down the royal garden. No matter how ignorant and 'elegant' they are, the brozen heads are the evidence of robery and crime.

@justkeeper

Thumbs up.

And the last, who is idiot is not important at all, or your worries that Mr Cai will be banned from future biddings or lose fortunes...if he doesn't care, why do you care?

Not all of Chinese people support him.Some people are afraid that many foreign people will never believe Chinese.

Kaka

"I do not like French, the main reason is their ancestors looted and burned down the royal garden"

- Do you "not like" children of the people that didn't let you uncle go to university? Do you think its fair to judge someone by what their ancestors did? Do you "not like" Mongolians because they raided northern China hundreds of years ago? Where does this stop? Not liking a whole group of people based on something that a few of their ancestors did is just plain silly.

You seem to be missing is that we are all people here and if we go far enough back we are all related. So please quit this "I don't like such and such people" thinking. I know its hard not to be a racist, but racists/nationalistic attitudes are what caused the problems in the first place.

I neve trust polls, especiall those on chinese internet portals. I did terrible in my 5th form statistics class but I can still tell the percentage was calculated from an extremely biased sample.

And it's funny that the government thinks netizens represent the entire population, while there are 800 million peasants who probably don't even know what internet is.

"More than anything, Mr. Cai's action accentuates the hypocricy and ignorance of China and its people towards their own history and actions, and the nationa's current brand of blind nationalism. "

How so? While Cai's act was not wise, are the concerns of the Chinese shown in this case not legitimate? These days it is fashionable to blame Chinese nationalism just like it was popular to blame George W. Bush. Nationalism is not necessarily bad. Ultra-nationalism is. So is victim mentality. And foreign cynicism.

@Pffefer: it's legitimate of the Chinese to want to get their statues back, but their lack of irony and historical perspective is nothing short of tragic. For a nation that destroyed so many of its own national treasures to try to turn the story of two bronze statues into a national cause is silly and sad.

Yes, not all nationalism is bad, but China's nationalism and pride in its glorious past (or its idea of such a past) has proven to be a devastating power, preventing the country from changing and achieving full civilization. The victims of this are the Chinese people who have watched large parts of the world and many of their neighbors pass them by during the last 500 and 150 years, while they remain a lot of poor and mostly uneducted people who bask in the glory of "5,000 years of history".

Nationalism is fine as long as it's based on logic and common sense, and doesn't bother non-nationalists.

Ever nation has nationalism in it, it's just a sense of identity and root, nothing wrong with it, in fact America's nationalism is far more overwhelming than China's, but it's an elegant one, while China's nationalism tends to become harassment.

China's recent (and not-so-recent) history of self-destruction and what happened in Yuanmingyuan are two isolated matters, neither incident justifies one another. Pulling an irrelevant argument does not help is "sad and silly".
The world spent decades counting China's fault, now someone's just touching on a tip of the iceberg of a whole imperialism era and it's too much already?

Chinese people do have strong feelings about the past century and we are constantly reminded of such. We still get to care about Yuanmingyuan and everything it represents.
Any claim that Chinese "don't care" as long as it's an internal affair is blind, biased and irresponsible. It's in fact an automatic, thoughtless assumption overlooking Chinese people's sensibility.

Kitsch: I'm the last to defend the Imperialist powers for what they did in/to China. Still, China still has a loot of introspection to do regarding the way in which it responded to the meeting with the "modern" world. As I said above, Nationalism and pride in a certain idea of Chinese tradition prevented China from reforming and fulfilling itself in a changing world. Even today, the similarities between imperial China and the CCP are overwhelming.

The fact that colonial powers did terrible things to China does not relieve China of responsibility for its own fate and well-being, just like the fact the Hitler (for example) wanted to take over the world does not cancel the responsibility of those who appeased him and let him go as far as he did without any serious resistance for a long while.

In any case, I do think that the statues should be returned to China, but I also think that the Chinese reaction and the fact that this is becoming a national cause accentuate the hypocricy, ignorance, and cynicism that dominate China's view of its own history. At the end of the day, the vast majority of Chinese people have very limited access to reliable (or diverse) information regarding their country's past (and present!) activities.

@Chris

ok, I should put like this 'I don't like those ignorant French people who think looted cultural relics are under their protection', certainly i don't mean all French, sorry I made that silly statement. It is just because somebody claim that Chinese should get over it, because there is nothing Chinese can do to stop the auction and Cai's action is useless.

Certainly it is not right to judge people, but it is important to record the history, as twisted history causes problem, like the case in Japan.


Dor,

What " lack of irony and historical perspective"? Just because the Chinese themselves have destroyed a lot of ancient Chinese relics and artifacts, it made the case of what the nasty western imperialists did to China less compelling?

Exactly how is Chinese nationalism "devastating"? Achieving full civilization? What are the criteria for "civilization"? Westernization = achieving full civilization?

China is a friggin' developing country, yes there are a lot of poor and uneducated people. So what? I agree that the Chinese should not cling to their past glory and humiliation, but again, what is NOT LEGITIMATE about their concerns and anger in this case?

And what do you mean by "hypocricy, ignorance, and cynicism that dominate China's view of its own history"? How so? Enlighten me please, how is that foreigners like you have a better understanding or a more objective view of China's history? Just because you believe the views expressed by those western "China scholars" are more reliable?

I have been watching with interest this story unfolding. I think that the trust or associated persons should without hesitation return the artifacts immediately to the chinese people where they rightfully belong.Here in new zealand when we request that Maori artifacts be returned or purchased at the tax payers expense it is usually done without hesitation--i see no difference in this situation.I comend any chinese national that says it should be returned immediately,well done and dont give up you certainly have my support.I wish you, in this matter all the best and hope that you are successful in your acquisition-no matter how that may be and i would go so far as to say that if some sort of force was required, then that to

It is understandable that people develop all kinds of emotions based on their perception of the world. But then smart people go further and THINK. That's what was missing in this idiotic stunt by some Chinese geniuses.

Why?

1. Cai made it known to the entire world that the Chinese people care a lot about their "face" in the world. Nice, but the world has already known this for long, nothing new here. It wasn't necessary to remind the world about this "save face, lose face" culture, it's well known already.

2. Cai re-emphasized for the rest of the world that nobody can really trust a Chinese person, because it is part of the Chinese culture to surprise others with unexpected moves, and consider it "smart". Somehow the rest of the world doesn't think that lying, cheating and tricking others is funny... rather, those "foreigners" think it's primitive and in despicable manner to think/act so.

3. Cai may have satisfied some ignorant Chinese in China, who think that it is smart and civilized to shout in the face of the entire world what/how they think (before understanding what the real world is about--because with the current level of censorship in the country one is kept ignorant by orders from above), but he practically finished his career as an art collector (unless he changes name or gets some cosmetic surgery). This was a one-off stunt, cannot be repeated. Everyone was taking notes: a) don't trust Cai, and b) probably don't trust anyone Chinese, because they all care more about their face than thinking reasonably, and c) only talk to the Chinese when they finally solved their basic issues (like understanding that censorship and brainwashing is harmful to mental health, and trying to impress/outsmart others will only result in being regarded as someone who is trying to impress/outsmart others). What's the point in alienating the rest of the world, including himself, gets me.

4. Concretely talking about the artifacts: yes, they might have been looted. Looting is barbaric and bad, we all agree. And there are many bad things happening even today, done by ALL kinds of people. All of us. Yes, Western people make mistakes, have bad breath, drop the cutlery, fart and blurp. So do the Chinese, or any other nations on this planet. And those bad things happened in the past. And yes they happen today, and they may happen tomorrow as well. YES. THEY ARE PART OF HUMAN NATURE, UNFORTUNATELY. Welcome to REALITY. An intelligent person puts everything in perspective, and calculates its relative importance and value. If the Chinese people's argument "give me back those 2 artifacts for free" would be valid, then so would be all similar requests by others. Logically, we should wind back the entire human history, and if this particular claim about these 2 artifacts would be granted, then so should be ALL the past lootings, done by ALL countries ALL OVER THE WORLD. That means practically turning back the wheel of time, and undoing all human history, back to the stone age, I guess. Stupid. (Or, do the Chinese think that THEY have the right to ask others to give them back what they looted from them.. but e.g. the Tibetans don't have the right to ask the Chinese to build back all the temples destroyed and revive all the people killed? I don't think so. The Chinese are nice people and they know that they are not above any other nation on this planet, so if they ask something from others, others have the right to ask them also the same things... an eye for an eye... unless they really think that they are the superior race that has the moral right to ask others to be nice with them, whilst the Chinese do not need to be nice with anyone, in exchange... it doesn't sound logical. I think the Chinese can also be reasonable, if they think hard.) The only way to stop this idiot cycle is to accept TODAY'S STATUS QUO, and whatever WAS looted, let it be. Just do not loot TODAY and in the future. So much about the "moral claim".

5. Legally obviously China is wrong, France is right. According to current laws, there is a rightful owner of the artifacts, and s/he is NOT the looter, so s/he is entitled to his or her possessings, as long as s/he obtained it lawfully. I assume Monseiur Saint-Laurent obtained them legally, so "claiming it back" only shows complete ignorance or disrespect to current national and international laws. Again: mildly stupid (people would just murmur: "hello? didn't this guys study law before their opened their mouth?").

Now, it really puzzles me what was the point of all this fuzz? As I have proven in the above 5 points, with all this stunt China and the Chinese people just "lost face" (according to their own terms, which of course is inexistent in Western culture anyway). It's like someone banging his or her head into the wall, while the civilized world is just standing by and not understanding why this person is doing this, hurting only him- or herself (self destruction).

This wasn't the first, wasn't the last, and definitely won't be the = only such "ostrich" way of thinking and behavior that certain type of people exhibit. Nevertheless quite unintelligent and stupid, in the light of the all the civilization and sophistication (particularly in science) that mankind achieved by today (2009). Shame, shame, shame.

I hope that the Chinese government will spend more money and attention on EDUCATION in China and will educate the young ones better, so this rampant stupidity at all levels can be eradicated in the decades to come...

By the way, if there is any Chinese person reading these lines: RELAX, BUDDY. Your artifacts are in GOOD HANDS. Whoever will be the next owner, will probably take GOOD CARE OF THEM. Nobody will forget that they are Chinese, from the Summer Palace. Nobody will change their name, title, or age, or lie about them. NOPE. We are not such people. We do respect art, even if looted. We will take GOOD CARE OF IT, until China becomes a civilized place AGAIN (as it used to be in the past), where no "Cultural Revolution" may happen... once we see signs of civilization, and light in the heads there, all those artifacts will be happily returned to China, no problem. But until then they are in better hands in the hands of free people in free countries. My point is: China, the Chinese culture, and hence Chinese people actually BENEFIT from the fact that intelligent, art-savvy people own these artifacts today. And Chinese people should not worry that a non-Chinese owns something that belonged to China before. We still respect those artifacts MORE (at this moment) than China itself. When China proves that it can and is willing to behave responsibly like an adult, and not like a child: THEN will be the time for the free world to help China integrate into the global village as a safe and fun member. Until then... remains the careful wordings, talk for the sake of talk, and such unnecessarily nationalistic upheavals like these. Much ado for nothing... :-)

So I think the correct course of action should be:

1. Chinese people accepting the history "as-it-is" and teaching it to Chinese kids in school unaltered, unchanged and unmanipulated;

2. Modestly accepting the new world order and trying to find a place where China and its people can play a useful rold for MANKIND;

3. And when these kinds of nationalistic feelings come to the surface, just swallow it. I don't think it does any good for China's image if Chinese people desperately ransack around in the world like a spoiled 5-years-old, screaming and breaking things, just because they don't like the way the world is today. Yeah, sorry, the West did some bad things, not only to China, to many other places on this planet (Africa, America, etc). Yes, Europeans can be arrogant, violent, stupid, etc. JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE. Europeans just happened to occupy America, colonize Africa, and loot Asia. Yes. Sorry. Today's Europeans are not proud of this past, but at least WE ACCEPT IT as it was/is, and try to BUILD ON IT. Denying it, or trying to turn history's wheels backwards, is STUPID in European eyes, and in my personal opinion stunts like this by Mr. Cai will only deepen the divide between our cultures, and definitely do not contribute to WORLD PEACE. China should choose, what is more desirable to its people: a) digging their head in the sand like an ostrich, as in the past few thousands of years (see Great Wall of China as an example); or b) play the co-operation game, what the rest of the boys and girls in this global kindergarden do today (open borders, open minds, and try to BE REASONABLE (in Chinese: 合理的).

4. If China really wants to outsmart today's West, then my suggestion is to start work on the education sector, like the Japanese did back in the 50s. Yes, I know, it doesn't generate immediate results, one needs to think a little long term for that. But on the long term it is definitely worth. As long as there is only money pumped into education, but keeping the same methods and never learning from the rest of the guys on this planet... these kinds of "stunts" will keep puzzling the rest of the world.

Before someone starts blowing the nationalist whistle: Yeah, yeah, everyone LOVES China, ok? Relax all nationalists. You are being LOVED. You are CUTE. No problem. Just the west expects these lovely Chinese people to be a little SMARTER and think ahead 2-3-4 steps on the chess table, before moving their pieces.

In this case, I don't think any smart people were thinking this stunt through, they just acted out of instincts, and in 2009 it's not enough. You MUST THINK as well, use your brain. This apparently didn't happen in this game... :-)

Cheer up. I would suggest Mr Cai says "sorry" to everyone, and says he was only game, and it will never happen again, and next time he goes to an auction he knows what the rules of the games are. That could restore both his and China's image, that is getting tainted every year by some similarly uningenious stunts (can cite many from the past, almost every year China demonstrates the world that they still don't understand the New World Order).

Thanks, Anonymous, for the nice summary. One minor correction, the Japanese started investing in education and launched a new social and moral systen in the 1870s, not just from the 1950s. The Koreans started a similar process a few years later, but it was nipped in the bud by the Japanese occupation in the beginning of the 20th century.

I'm Irish and I Support him 100%.When I traveled to the Summer Palace and seen the damage done to such a amazing place by what at the time was ignorance. made me sad, but we are more enlighten now and it would have been a good gesture to offer to return them to Beijing.With Chinese-French relations at a long time low you would think this might help ease the rebuilding process.

"I'm Chinese!" "I'm Irish!" Who cares?

No one commenting here has put the incident in context. The Summer Palace was burned on order in retaliation for the torture and maiming of 18 foreign emissaries, correspondents and citizens, some of whom died as a consequence of their treatment at the order of the Xian Feng. Burning the Summer Palace was a strategy argued over and condemned even among certain of the British command but it was not a random act of violence or looting; rightly or wrongly it was a measured act targeting the personal property of the Xian Feng emperor.

I also note 1) Christie's had contacted the PRC government before the sale but the PRC refused to enter into negotiations for the purchase of the objects, and 2) Berge has publicly said the proceeds of the auctioned items - the heads are but one item - will go to charity.

This is not a defense of the auction; it is an explanation of circumstances I have not seen mentioned in this forum by Chinese, Irish, or whomever.

This China man dear act on his belief! A brave one!

Ano,

What a moron.

(1) This has nothing to do with "face". The Indians are not certainly not obsessed with "face" as the Chinese, the Koreans and teh Japanese are, yet they were very angry and upset with the auction of some of Ghandi's items. What "face"? Do the Greeks and Egyptians care about "face"?

(2) If you think the rest of the world will generalize that no Chinese person can be trusted based on this episode alone, it is either you are an idiot or that the rest of the world is retarded.

(3)"only talk to the Chinese when they finally solved their basic issues"? I can't speak for the Chinese, but if you ask me I don't think they will have a problem with that. Why would they want to talk to self-righetous morons who think all Chinese are brainwashed? Yeah the Chinese are brainwashed, as much as you are brainwashed. Everyone is brainwashed to believe that he/she is right.

(4) Do you have no shame? Accept the status quo? What is done is done? Again, just because the Chinese themselves have done many stupid things (like destorying their own relics and artifacts), it is OK for the nasty brits and french etc. to do what they did? OK, because I don't think you are able to protect that piece of gold watch that your late grandfather left you with, it is OK for me to break into your house and take it from you? Sure, your grandfather's gold watch is in good hands. Moron!

(5)OK, I guess if you are right, we can all go buy stolen goods and as buyers we bear no responsibility whatsoever. So if I don't want to get myself into trouble, I can have someone break into your house, steal the gold watch and I will buy it from the guy. Gee, I am so smart! Where do you live by the way, ano? Your house is fair game.

More retarded stuff is yet is come from you:

1. "as is"? Who is to interpret history? You? Me? Doror? You must be retarded to think there is such a thing as universally-accepted "unaltered, unchanged and unmanipulated" history.

2. Accepting the new world order? Why? Sure the new world order was designed and established by the west in the last three centuries with mostly gunboats and cannons. Why should the non-western world subject itself to a western-centric or eurocentric world order? Why?

3. I am all for looking forward and not burying ones head in the sand. However, I am not sure if the euros have repented enough: Many euros like you, pointed their fingers at China this time and showed no remorse at all. Exactly like what you have been saying: It was done, sorry folks, it is ours to keep now. Bite the bullet and take a hike, you Chinese people! Cultural divides? Why would anybody care if they are culturally or emotionally or diplotimatically detached from euros like those? I for one don't give a damn.


People make such a big deal about the burning of the summer palace even though it happened at the same time as the Taiping civil war which killed 20-30 million people.

Now I'm not saying burning the summer palace was a good thing to do, but seriously.. 20-30 million dead in probably the most brutal war after WW1&2 and yet I hear people talking about the summer palace 1000 times more.

Pfeffer, I didn't see you coming up with 1 (=one) useful argument against anything I was saying, so I assume you don't argue/debate my points. You only wanted to express your discontent about the Western world and your admiration about the East, at least of that East that exists only in your head (perception), not in reality. May I ask how long you lived or live in China as of today? If it's more than a few decades, then maybe you can consider yourself a worthwhile discussion partner for this issue. If not, then go back to your books and learn more about China.

If you have any arguments that holds water, I will be happy to discuss this issue further, until then, enjoy talking nonsense.

Turning BACK your questions TO YOU:

"Accept the status quo?" YES. However, would you have a better solution, do tell me.

Re history, go back to your primariy school (if you still remember where it was) and ask your history teacher AGAIN to explain you what history is. In Europe we have pretty good concepts about what history is, and that's what we learn. Not the facelifted versions you may have been subjected to. Germans particularly are obsessed with precision and reality, so if you have problems with separating fairy tales from reality, ask the Germans.

You don't have to like the European world order and way of life. That's the most fantastic thing I love about Europe: it works as a filter. Whoever stays and understands the rules, is automatically strengthens the social fabric here. And those who leave: it's a win-win, because they wouldn't feel good being a European anyway. We do not force people to live in Europe... :-)

ignorance is a good thing
for the govt.
but not too much.
when people are making all the patriotic buzz, they are laughing from their office. It's a piece of cake:we don't even have to move a finger. the people will crush the french.
when it became too much, for example,that a stupid upstart began doing things "representing the country",they stopped laughing.
but it is easy to handle right? simply send a "decree" to all media in China: no more Yuanmingyuan.
as it happened in Tibet and so many other issues,there are all piece of cake.


Ano,

You ARE a moron, nuff said.

Who the heck are you to say that I should go back to my books and learn more about China? What, you've been here forever, since 1949? Who the heck do you think you are?

Enough of your euro-centric BS. Everyone is free to interpret history and there is no ONE universally-accepted interpretation of history. History is more than just a stack of events that happened. Different people see these events differently.

Social fabric in Europe? Sure, just look at France. It's great, so cohesive, isn't it? :-)

Anyone with a good argument? If not, I am off to read/write other interesting things.Tthis auction stunt is thus agreed to have been a mistake? (I stay away from flames and history-interpreters...)

“I felt an internal struggle,” he (Cai Mingchao) said. “I felt, ‘If I paid this money and I can’t get the goods, what do I do?’”

If the Moderator allows this link, look to the true story of Cai Mingchao and his bid. A hero acting for the motherland? Hint: His Ming Dynasty Shakyamuni bronze Buddha - cost US$15 million - lies in a safe.

This all smells like bullshit, from all sides. First, I am not Asia, European or North American. I am from South America, as impartial as one can be.

1) Yes, it's true that the Europeans have done a lot of bad things in the world, especially in my homelands. But we have to learn how to live with it, PERIOD. China has benefited a lot from the New World Order and denying points of it for petty reasons is bad, very bad.

2) Whatever reasons led to the looting of Yuanmingyuan should be taken into account, but that is also moot. That has happened over 100 years ago, and International Law says the time limit is 50 years.

3) It doesn't seem that China has been tracking lost relics to bring them back. It seems that the most important thing is to make a lot of noise and pose as victims, so they can accuse the mean Westerners of "hurting their feeilings".

4)This Cai Mingchao is even worse. He just wanted the Statues, he doesn't care about National Treasure or whatever (his Buddha is in a Safe). So, after he saw that he might not be able to bring his prize back to China, he invented all this bullshit story to save face.

Honestly and any Chinese who want to complain about the New World Order, please give up their nice cars, their cellphones, their internet and go back to the communist years.

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