Office of the Spokesman
January 16, 2009
United States and China Sign Agreement to Protect Archaeological Heritage of China
On January 14, the United States and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding Between The Government of The United States of America and The Government of The People’s Republic of China Concerning The Imposition of Import Restrictions on Categories of Archaeological Material from The Paleolithic Period Through The Tang Dynasty and Monumental Sculpture and Wall Art at Least 250 Years Old. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Goli Ameri and Chinese Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong signed for their respective countries. Released on January 16, 2009
Signed on the occasion of the 30th anniversary 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 threaten 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 American museums. The two countries, both already signatories to the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, 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.
Assistant Secretary Ameri noted that 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 wing bone of a crane shows that humans were making music in China 9,000 years ago. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for China John Norris noted that the 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 in the Federal Register on January 16 a list of the types of archaeological material that now require appropriate documentation to be brought into the United States. The restricted material includes objects generally associated with the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods, Erlitou Culture, and the Shang through 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 list is available at culturalheritage.state.gov/ch2009DLFRN.pdf.
For more information, visit culturalheritage.state.gov or contact Catherine Stearns, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State, at 202-203-5107 or StearnsCL@state.gov.