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Protecting China's Heritage

The United States and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Categories of Archeological Material from the Paleolithic Period Through the Tang Dynasty and Monumental Sculpture and Wall Art at Least 250 Years Old.

The MOU was signed on January 14, highlighting the year-long 30th anniversary observance of diplomatic relations between the United States and China. The agreement establishes a means of cooperation to reduce the incentive for archaeological pillage and illicit trafficking in cultural objects that threatens China's ancient heritage.

The agreement also aims to further the international interchange of such materials for cultural, educational, and scientific purposes. To that end, China has agreed to promote long-term loans of archaeological objects to museums in the U.S. The 2 countries entered into the agreement following a request submitted to the U.S. Department of State by the Chinese Government for assistance under the Convention. The agreement is consistent with the recommendation of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee.

The Chinese people are justly proud of their significant and unique heritage, which has enriched the development of humanity. The discovery of a flute carved from the wing bone of a crane shows that humans were making music in China 9,000 years ago. This agreement represents one of the many broad areas of cooperation that have expanded between the United States and China during the past three decades.

Following the signing of the agreement, the Department of Homeland Security published a list of all the types of archaeological material that now require appropriate documentation to brought into the United States.

The restricted material includes objects generally associated with the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods, Erlitou Culture, and the Shang through the Tang Dynasties ranging in date from approximately 75,000 B.C. to A.D. 907. The restrictions also cover monumental and wall art 250 years or older.

The United States is committed to working with China to help preserve its irreplaceable cultural treasures.