Changing China

Giant on the move

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To the highest bidder?

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   By Ben Blanchard
   The fate of two bronze statues looted from China in the 1800s — and which were bought at a Paris auction this week by an anonymous buyer for $20 million each — has sparked intense public interest in China.

   Thanks to a tip, Reuters was the only foreign media to learn about a hastily called news conference on Monday in Beijing where the buyer promised to make a statement.

    All was revealed as the organisers of the event, a Chinese foundation that  seeks to recover cultural artifacts, identified the buyer as a well-known collector named Cai Mingchao.
 
    Then came the surprise: Cai stood up, made a brief statement about how he had no intention of paying the hefty sums he’d pledged for the bronzes, and described his move as an act of patriotism.

    Having derailed the Christie’s auction, and provided more questions than answers, he then promptly vanished out of a side door, leaving behind a mad scramble of reporters rushing to ask him questions.
 
    Three other members of the foundation were left behind, and we surrounded them to ask the most pressing question: What would happen now? And would the bronzes be able to return to China?

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