The National Administration of Cultural Heritage (NCHA; ) is an administrative agency subordinate to the
Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People's Republic of China The Ministry of Culture and Tourism, abbreviated as MCT () is a ministry responsible for formulating cultural and tourism policies of Mainland China. Its headquarters are in Chaoyang District, Beijing. It was formed on 19 March 2018; its predecess ...
. It is responsible for the development and management of museums as well as the protection of cultural relics of national importance.


After the
Chinese Civil War The Chinese Civil War was a civil war in China fought between the Kuomintang (KMT)-led government of the Republic of China (ROC) and forces of the Communist Party of China (CPC) lasting intermittently between 1927 and 1949. The war is genera ...
, the State Bureau of Cultural Relics was established to protect relics and archaeological sites as well as help develop museums (though the agency languished during the political turmoil of the
Cultural Revolution The Cultural Revolution, formally the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, was a violent sociopolitical purge movement in China from 1966 until 1976. Launched by Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Communist Party of China (CPC), its stated goal was ...
). Its cause was revitalized with the establishment of the State Cultural Relics Enterprises Management Bureau in 1973 to oversee the protection of cultural heritage and the State Bureau of Cultural Relics (SBCR) in 1988, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture, as the encompassing agency for conservation of Chinese culture and heritage. The agency is responsible for over 500,000 registered sites of immovable cultural relics on mainland China. This includes 2,352 sites under national protection, 9,396 sites under the protection of provincial governments, and 58,300 sites under the protection of county or municipal authorities. In addition, 103 cities are designated as a "Historically and Culturally Famous City." There are approximately one million ancient Chinese relics on display in more than 200 overseas museums. The agency is pursuing the repatriation of these items via political, diplomatic, and international conventions. The Chinese government asserts that not only were these items taken immorally but illegally as well. A
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency of the United Nations (UN) aimed at promoting world peace an ...

document in 1995 states that cultural relics taken during wartime should be returned to their original countries. Egypt has supported China's efforts to repatriate its historical artifacts since they share a similar history.


In 2001, the National Gallery of Canada returned an arhat sculpture that was dated about 1300 years ago. This was the first time a museum voluntarily returned an item to the state agency. A guardian statue that had been looted from a Chinese tomb in 1994 was seized by U.S. customs agents. The U.S Attorney for the Southern District of New York (Mary Jo White) filed a civil forfeiture suit under the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act, which led to the statue's seizure. It was returned in May 2001. In 2001, the
Miho Museum The Miho Museum is located southeast of Kyoto, Japan, near the town of Shigaraki, in Shiga Prefecture. It is also the headquarters of the Shinji Shumeikai, a new religious group founded by Mihoko Koyama. History The museum was the dream of Mihok ...
in Kyoto, Japan, returned a rare Buddhist statue that was stolen from a public garden in the Shandong province. A rare bronze horse was purchased for 8.9 million US by Macau billionaire
Stanley Ho Stanley Ho Hung-sun (, 25 November 192126 May 2020) was a Hong Kong-Macau billionaire businessman. His original patrilineal surname was Bosman, which was later sinicized to 何 (Ho). He was of Dutch-Jewish, English and Chinese ancestry. He was ...
who donated it to China. In 2009, an auction in France took place despite protests from the Chinese Government. Two bronze sculptures that were looted from the
Old Summer Palace The Old Summer Palace, known in Chinese as Yuanming Yuan (), originally called the Imperial Gardens (), and sometimes called the Winter Palace, was a complex of palaces and gardens in present-day Haidian District, Beijing, China. It is northwest o ...
during the
Second Opium War The Second Opium War (), also known as the Second Anglo-Chinese War, the Second China War, the Arrow War, or the Anglo-French expedition to China, was a war pitting the British Empire and the French Empire against the Qing dynasty of China tha ...
were being auctioned. The purchaser,
François Pinault François Pinault (born 21 August 1936) is a French billionaire businessman, founder of the luxury group Kering and the investment company Artémis. Pinault started his business in the timber industry in the early 1960s. Taken public in 1988, th ...
, bought them and donated them back to China in 2013. An imperial Chinese gilt metal box appeared at an auction in Salisbury in 2011. It was sold for 400,000 pounds. In that same year, another relic (a yellow jade pendant carved as a dragon) sold for 478,000 at another auction in Dorchester. In April 2018, the Tiger Ying (a bronze water vessel) sold at an auction in the United Kingdom. The National Cultural Heritage Administration condemned the auction arguing it was illegally looted from China and demanded its return. The auctioneers did not comment on Chinese requests and the auction went ahead. However, after some private negotiations, the Tiger Ying was returned and became part of the National Museum of China's collection in November of that year. The FBI Art Crime Team returned 361 cultural artifacts to China on February 28, 2019. A court in Milan Italy ruled 796 artifacts to be returned to China. They arrived in Beijing on April 10, 2019. Some of these relics include porcelain items from the Song and Ming dynasties.http://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201904/29/WS5cc653f1a3104842260b907a.html

List of directors

See also

* 2009 Auction of Old Summer Palace bronze heads *Repatriation (cultural heritage)#International conventions


External links

Official website
{{authority control Government agencies of China Government agencies established in 2003 2003 establishments in China Organizations based in Beijing