Monday, December 16, 2013

Poly Rules

The New York Times comments on Poly Group's rise to Number Three Auction House in the World. While American auction houses, museums and collectors can no longer easily import Chinese artifacts from abroad due to import restrictions on cultural goods, Poly has no such worries.  Indeed, the politically connected generals of the People's Liberation Army that run Poly don't have much to fear from Chinese regulators either.  As Chinese art experts have observed,

"[I]t is Poly’s relationship with the state and the reach of its affiliated businesses that have fostered its ascension in the art world, experts say. They claim that, because of Poly’s ties to elites in the Chinese government, it enjoys greater freedom in moving cultural relics in and out of the country and more leeway from the tax bureau. Poly also can be more dismissive of recent efforts, led by the trade association, with the of commerce and culture ministries, to reform the Chinese art market, the experts say.

'It’s a privileged institution that is more powerful than what we would consider some of the lesser state agencies,” said Tai Ming Cheung, director of the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation at the University of California, San Diego, and an expert on Chinese state companies.'"

The current Chinese MOU must be renewed in January or it will lapse.  At a public session awhile back, CPAC received plenty of evidence that the current MOU does nothing but promote the interests of politically connected Chinese business interests at the expense of American collectors, museums and auction houses.   But will CPAC and the State Department decision-maker listen?  Or will the U.S. Cultural bureaucracy's knee-jerk repatriationist stance carry the day once more?

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