The Chinese Embassy learned today that fossils smuggled into the US by an Australian named Tomas Kapitany have been seized by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
This is another case of a foreign government helping China seize smuggled Chinese fossils under UNESCO Convention of the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970). We are glad to see the raised awareness of the international community of the illegal smuggling of moving cultural heritage and the need to crack down on such acts. We are also encouraged to see the strengthened international cooperation in this regard.
In line with the above-mentioned UNESCO Convention and Australia's Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986, and at the request of the Chinese government, the Australian Government has done a commendable job in tracking down Chinese fossils smuggled into Australia. So far Australia has twice handed over fossils seized in Australia to the Chinese Government. This partnership has set an excellent example for inter-country cooperation.
We are glad to see the seizure of the fossils by the U.S. Government. We hope these fossils will be returned to China in due course upon the completion of legal procedures.