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Old Chinese bank notes being brought back home from Egypt

By Wang Kaihao | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-18 07:45

Egypt recently decided to return 13 old bank notes to China, the Beijing News reported on Sept 11. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Egypt recently decided to return 13 old bank notes to China, the Beijing News reported on Sept 11.

The Xinhua News Agency released photos of an exhibition of the same notes from Cairo.

Most of the bank notes are from the early 20th century, Shi Yuewen, the cultural counselor at the Chinese embassy in Cairo, told the media. They were found earlier this year by Egyptian officials.

The earliest note in the series is from 1901 and shows the image of a mining company in Northeast China. The other note was released by the Chinese Soviet Republic, a revolutionary government led by Mao Zedong in the 1930s, when the country was under Kuomintang rule.

"The items were found to have been illegally exported due to the absence of certification, and they deserved to be returned to China," Shi says.

The two countries held a transfer ceremony in late August, and Shi says the notes are on the way home.

In 2010, China and Egypt signed an agreement to jointly fight the smuggling of cultural relics. Returning the bank notes is the first time Egypt is giving Chinese cultural relics back to China.

China has similar agreements with 20 countries.

"The Egyptian cultural relic administration did a really good job with its fast action and firm attitude," Shi says.

Compared with the bank notes that were illegally exported in recent times, a more pressing issue is that many Chinese cultural relics have been lost over the decades.

Though an international convention was reached in 1970 to prevent the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property, its validity for those taken away before that year is unclear.

"Both China and Egypt are victims of international crimes on cultural relics," Ali Ahmed Ali Farhan, the director-general of the repatriation department of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, told the paper in an earlier interview.

"We face the same problem: It's difficult to repatriate objects stolen before 1970. We are ready to cooperate with China that shares the problem," he said.

"When we make allies, we can move together for the modification of current laws."


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