Chinese law has Hong Kong antique dealers wary
June 29, 1997
Web posted at: 12:59 p.m. EDT (1659 GMT)
From Correspondent May Lee
HONG KONG (CNN) -- Antique dealers in Hong Kong are
monitoring the handover to Beijing closely because of a
Chinese law that could change the antiques business here.
Under the law, China forbids the sale and export of relics
older than 200 years without a government license. China's
director of the Preservation of Cultural Relics has promised
that the law would not be applied to Hong Kong after July 1.
Some dealers remain skeptical that the law won't be imposed
here. Others, like C.Y. Tse, who has dealt antiques in Hong
Kong for nearly 30 years, have anxieties about the handover
but are confident Beijing will keep its promise.
"What is available in Hong Kong should be able to go on.
They have been promising minimal or no change," he said.
"This is what they call, 'One country, two systems.' If there
should be change in this business, there could be a lot of
changes in other things too."
"That is not what they want."
Tse's confidence is, in part, due to the fact that most of
what he sells is legal under Chinese antiquities laws. Only a
handful of his items date back more than a few hundred
years. But even those items, he says, are not worth Beijing's
trouble because they are not museum quality.
"The early pieces belong to what we call folk art. ... (They)
once belonged to the people, not aristocratic or imperial
classes," Tse said.
But whether Beijing sticks to its promise of not imposing the
law is the lingering question among Hong Kong dealers, some
of whom are getting out of the business, not willing to wait
out the answer.
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