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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story



MOST EIGHT-YEAR-OLDS MIGHT RESIST spending weekends rummaging in dusty junk shops with their parents, he acknowledges. But Anthony Hua Tien Lin didn't mind. "I liked old things, so I was happy," Lin recalls. Mom and dad -- a stockbroker and a banker -- were keen collectors of 19th-century antique furniture, and second-hand shops were the best places to find it. Lin's boyhood diversions in Singapore nurtured what has become a crusade to ensure Asia's past has a place in its future. He became Christie's first auctioneer of Chinese descent in 1990, and is now deputy chairman of its Asian arm.

The 42-year-old Lin had a brief fling with journalism in the Lion City, but his heart was elsewhere. He left to take a masters in Chinese Art and Archaeology from the University of London and joined Christie's in 1986. Now a recognized expert on Song and Qing porcelain and ancient Buddhist sculpture, Lin played a major role in developing the fine arts market in the region. He says: "In terms of Chinese antiques, the trend over the past 10 years or so has been a flow of pieces in the West coming back to the East." Last year, for instance, he presided over the auction of a jadeite bead necklace (aptly named the Doubly Fortunate) which fetched $9.4 million -- a world record for such a piece. Another memorable sale: a Ming vase, which went to an anonymous buyer for $2.9 million, the most expensive piece of Chinese porcelain sold in Asia. "That was an exciting moment," says Lin. He recalls the tension, his adrenaline pumping as he tried to keep the momentum building, and at the end, the giddy feeling of notching up a record sale.

That's all very well when Asia is on a roll, but isn't the region's economic gloom giving collectors the chills too? Lin remains upbeat. "In spite of the crisis, I believe we are at the threshold of a big breakthrough," says the Hong Kong-based expert. "As the countries in the region achieve greater economic freedom, they are going to realize the importance of their past and turn to their cultures to redefine and strengthen their national identities." Privately, Lin is doing his bit to help. He is an active campaigner for the preservation of the region's ancient monuments. Looters, who have been desecrating the heritage sites, will find little custom from Christie's man in Asia.


This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek home



U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

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