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Historical letters bought

THE Chinese government purchased letters believed to be of "revolutionary and historical significance" by exercising its preemption right at a commercial auction, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage said yesterday.

On May 30, China Guardian, a leading Chinese auction house, sold more than 10 letters handwritten by Chen Duxiu, a Communist Party of China founder and leading figure, to philosopher Hu Shi who was once Peking University president.

The letters were sold for 5.54 million yuan (US$813,000).

The SACH then decided to exercise its "preemption right" to buy the letters at the same price reached at auction, said a Guardian statement to the Xinhua news agency.

The Law on the Protection of Cultural Relics authorizes the government to buy relics of important historical or cultural significance before other collectors. If the government does not reach agreement on prices with the owner, the objects will be put up for auction but the government enjoys preemption right before other bidders.

The SACH said it failed to clinch a purchase agreement with the letters' owner because of price disputes.


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