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China's Stolen Treasures on BBC

In the small hours of 6 August, 2010 thieves set off bombs around Stockholm, Sweden. The bombs were a distraction. The real target was the Chinese Pavilion at the Swedish royal residence, Drottningholm Palace. The thieves smashed open the doors and made off with a haul of Chinese antiquities, many of which used to be owned by Chinese emperors. But this was not a one-off theft. Similar burglaries took place in the following years in Cambridge, Durham and Norwich in England, as well as in France, Spain and Norway. Were the thefts connected and who might have been behind them? Many of the objects targeted were looted by British and French troops during what the Chinese call the Century of Humiliation. China was militarily weaker than the two colonial giants of Europe at the time and lost both of the Opium Wars that enriched Britain and impoverished the Chinese. In October 1860, during the Second Opium War, the British looted the emperor’s Old Summer Palace close to Beijing. The resonance of this event has echoed down the centuries and, as China grows stronger, so do calls for the return of these antiquities.

With artist Ai Weiwei, historian Liu Yang, China specialists Kerry Brown, Frances Wood, James Miles, Jasper Becker and art collector Christopher Bruckner.

Writer and Presenter - Dr Noah Charney Producer - Caroline Finnigan Executive Producer - Rosie Collyer Researcher - Nadia Mehdi China Producer - Coco Zhao Sound Designers - David Smith and Tom Berry for Wardour Studios Music Composer - Nicholas Alexander

A Novel production for BBC Radio 4.

All 3 episodes can be heard on BBC Sounds or at this link.

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