Sunday, 8 December 2013

Treasure hunters in China

According to Chinese law, all ancient relics discovered in the ground belong to the state. Professional treasure hunters are thus operating illegally. Buyers also face prosecution for violating the law. A newspaper article discuses the case of a large construction site in Hangzhou where at the end of October  "around 100 treasure hunters began looking for relics" such as porcelain, ceramics or pottery. The newspaper Qianjiang Evening News interviewed about a dozen of them. Their average age was 36 and they'd been working as treasure hunters an average of four and a half years.
According to them, there are nearly 800 treasure diggers in Hangzhou, most of them originating from Henan, Anhui and Jiangxi provinces. The treasure hunters are typically part of organized groups, with their leaders knowing which construction sites may have antiques to be dug up, the price that they will be sold at and where they can sell them. Hu Baucheng (pseudonym) joined a team, whose leader has guaranteed a minimum annual pay of about 60,000 yuan (US$9,800). In return, diggers must agree to hand over discovered relics. The leaders typically have to pay the owners of construction sites thousands of yuan for the right to dig on the grounds.

'Treasure hunters in China are illegal and organized', Want China Times, 2nd December 2013

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