Sunday, April 20, 2014   

Cameron’s Weibo stunt backfires, think tank poses question on British looting of cultural heritage
(12-04 16:02)

British Prime Minister David Cameron faced demands for the return of priceless artefacts looted from Beijing in the 19th century, the last day of his visit to China.
Cameron travelled to southwestern Chengdu on the third day of what embassy officials said was the largest British trade mission to the country.
Last Friday he set up his own microblogging page on Sina Weibo, attracting more than 230,000 followers by Wednesday. He invited netizens to ask questions.
One of the most popular questions was posted by a prominent Chinese think-tank, the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, which is headed by former vice-premier Zeng Peiyan and includes as its members many top government officials and leading economists.
“When will Britain return the illegally plundered artefacts?'' the organisation asked, referring to 23,000 items in the British Museum which it says were looted by the British Army, part of the Eight-Nation Alliance that put down the Boxer Rebellion at the end of the 19th century, a popular uprising against the incursion of European imperial powers in China.
To the Chinese, the ransacking of the Forbidden City, and the earlier destruction of the Old Summer Palace in Beijing in 1860 – about which one British officer wrote: “You can scarcely imagine the beauty and magnificence of the places we burnt. It made one's heart sore to burn them'' – remain key symbols of how the country was once dominated by foreign powers.
   
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