Where’s the Loot?

Not where the Chinese say it is

The Chinese Museum at Fontainebleau

More than 150 years after British and French troops sacked and razed the Summer Palace, in Beijing, the incident is regularly revisited in the Chinese press. Articles usually appear around the October anniversary of the destruction, after yet another announcement of plans to catalogue looted antiquities now overseas, or when Summer Palace items appear at foreign auction houses.

As well as their incomplete and inaccurate descriptions of the palace and its destruction, these stories often contain transparently false accusations against foreign institutions holding collections of Chinese treasures, as well as unsustain­able claims of a legal right to them and demands for their uncompensated return.

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