Top court hails legal efforts to retrieve relics

BEIJING: Chinese courts have successfully stepped up efforts in recent years to formulate judicial rules to assist the recovery of the nation’s cultural treasures from overseas, an official from the country’s top court said on Tuesday.
“We’ve resolutely supported government departments in charge of relic-related affairs to perform their duties, and we’ve focused more on urging them to play the role in protecting the relics,” Yang Linping, vice-president of the Supreme People’s Court, said at a news conference.
She made the remark while detailing 15 influential relic-related cases. A lawsuit involving Zhang Gong Patriarch, an ancient Buddha statue, was a key step by Chinese courts in helping bring home relics through legal measures, Yang said.
The 1,000-year-old statue contains the mummified remains of Zhang Qisan, a monk known for helping people battle diseases and preaching Buddhist doctrines during the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
The significant cultural relic, which had been enshrined at Puzhao Temple in Sanming, Fujian province, for local villagers to worship, went missing in 1995.
Its whereabouts were unknown until it went on display in the Mummy World Exhibition at the Hungarian Natural History Museum in Budapest in 2015, gaining global attention.
In the Sanming Intermediate People’s Court in Fujian, the villagers initiated a civil lawsuit against Oscar van Overeem, a Dutch architect and collector, after they failed to reach an agreement with him for the return of the relic.
–The Daily Mail-China Daily news exchange item