China pledges judicial protection of cultural heritage

Updated: Feb 8, 2023 Xinhua Print
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BEIJING -- China's top court and cultural heritage authority have pledged to better protect the country's cultural treasures through judicial means, while making several cases public.

The Supreme People's Court, the National Cultural Heritage Administration and the cultural heritage branch under a national judicial research society, on Tuesday jointly published 15 typical judicial cases regarding the protection of cultural relics and cultural heritage.

The move is expected to help courts nationwide, as well as cultural heritage authorities at all levels, to better perform their respective duties and promote the public's awareness of cultural heritage protection, according to a document issued by the three publishers.

The authorities pledged severe punishments for cultural heritage-related crimes, especially those involving criminals with bad intentions that resulted in serious consequences. Such measures are also expected to deter further offenses, the document said.

The 15 cases include one in which a convict surnamed Yao was found to have led a criminal ring and committed a series of tomb thefts and robberies, along with the reselling of cultural relics. The ancient tombs and cultural ruins damaged included a relics site in Northeast China's Liaoning province. Archaeologists had previously unearthed a large number of relics dating to more than 5,500 years ago at the site. Police caught over 200 suspects and retrieved over 2,000 items. Yao, the ringleader, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve.

In another case, a court urged local governmental authorities to correct illegal business activities at the death place of a Chinese war hero in a timely manner, safeguarding the honor and dignity of the country's martyrs.

Over the past decade, China's cultural heritage authorities have been working with judicial agencies to crack down on relevant crimes, handling over 11,000 criminal cases and retrieving 170,000 pieces of cultural relics.

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