Time to build a fund to retrieve relics from abroad

By Peter Fuhrman ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-06-18 10:56:22

I had the kind of childhood I wish more Chinese children could have. I grew up surrounded by exquisite art works from China's long and dazzling history. I can still remember as a child holding a Qing Dynasty vase in my small hands. Cool to the touch even on a hot summer day, the vase was intricately carved with lotus blossoms.

My early encounters with Chinese antiques took place not in China but in my grandfather's house in New York City. He was a successful businessman and developed a passion for Chinese Qing and Ming Dynasty jades. Every time I visited him, I was drawn magnetically to these breathtakingly beautiful objects made centuries ago by Chinese artists. I inherited his love of Chinese culture and Chinese art. In my office today in Shenzhen are displayed eight jade pieces from my grandfather's collection.

Chinese antiques-jade carvings, imperial porcelains, paintings, Buddhist sculptures-are all deeply familiar to me. I have lived around them my whole life. This, sadly, is an experience too few Chinese will share. It's not only that private collections are rare. Only a few of China's 3,500 museums have strong and extensive collections. A few, notably Beijing's Palace Museum have outstanding works of art on display.

To me, this is not only a problem. It's a long-term national challenge worthy of a great nation. Chinese children grow up with too few opportunities to see up close, especially in smaller and less-crowded settings, the beautiful objects made by their brilliant ancestors. This should change.

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