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Seal's sale raises anger in China

AN auction of Chinese relics held by Sotheby's of London yesterday triggered outrage among Chinese Internet users as an imperial seal belonging to Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty fetched 3.56 million pounds (US$5.91 million).

The jade seal was sold along with 152 other Chinese relics, and 109 lots of the 261 items on auction were not sold, according to an official with Sotheby's quoted by China National Radio today.

The jade seal was one of the emperor's favorites and was made to celebrate his 80th birthday. He ruled from 1736 to 1796.

The controversial auction came after a series of China's looted relics have been sold. Sotheby's Hong Kong sold another Qianlong seal for HK$63.38 million last October, prompting Internet users to urge the government to recover relics.

But antiques experts said their passion could help drive up the prices of Chinese relics, making it harder for China to buy them back.

Jin Yunchang, a professor with the National Palace Museum, said Chinese relics for sale abroad were not necessarily looted as palace attendants in the late Qing Dynasty often stole items for sale.

A survey conducted by UNESCO showed that there are more than 1.67 million pieces of relics in 200 museums around the world. And the number of relics scattered in private collectors was estimated to be ten times more.


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