On Tuesday, October 12, 2010, Egypt and China will sign a collaborative agreement for the Protection and Restitution of Stolen Cultural Property Transferred Illicitly. Shan Jixiang, General Director of Chinese State Administration of Heritage, and Dr. Zahi Hawass will sign then agreement tomorrow at the Supreme Council of Antiquities’ (SCA) offices in Zamalek. This will be the sixteenth agreement signed between Egypt and other countries to prohibit illicit trade in antiquities and the protection of the cultural heritage. Other countries that have signed similar agreements include: Jordan, Italy, Switzerland, Cuba and Ecuador.
Hawass said that the agreement reflects the duty of each country to protect its cultural heritage and their obligation to stand against illicit antiquities trafficking. The agreement highlights the regulation and articles of the 1970’s UNESCO convention that prohibits the importing, exporting and possession transferring of cultural properties.
The Chinese-Egyptian collaboration began after China’s attendance at the first annual Conference on International Cooperation for the Protection and Repatriation of Cultural Heritage last April. This conference focused on the restitution of cultural and archaeological objects, which had been illegally smuggled out of their homelands.
Ashraf El-Ashmawi, SCA legal consultant, said that the article of the agreement stipulates the prohibition of antiquities trade, importing or transferring the possession of cultural, art, historical and archaeological properties and the prohibition of its illegal entrance into other countries. The article also provides guidelines for the safe return of any antiquity to its native country. El-Ashmawi continued that the agreement also prohibits the illicit entry of any plant or animal species without the required licenses. He also pointed out that this agreement with China is very important because China is currently one of the greatest markets for illegally traded antiquities.