China to check illegal salvaging, research underwater relics

The Chinese government on Monday kicked off its first ever law enforcement inspection on underwater cultural heritage within its jurisdiction, the country’s latest effort to protect ancient relics.

The six-month campaign, jointly launched by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage and the State Oceanic Administration, targets illegal salvaging activities, destruction of underwater cultural relics, and unapproved archeological activities, among other misconduct.

“China boasts very rich underwater cultural heritage resources, but our protection and management of these resources face many challenges,” Li Xiaojie, head of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage as well as vice minister of culture, said at the launch ceremony.

Li noted that such relics were occasionally found “damaged or even annihilated” in recent years as a result of “inappropriate economic exploitation and criminal activities.”

During the campaign, inspection teams consisting of law enforcement workers within the two administrations, China Marine Surveillance, the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage, and the governments of several coastal provinces will be sent to inspect key ocean areas.

Moreover, Li called for improving legislative and protective efforts as well as strengthening education to boost public awareness.

Xinhua