US returns dinosaur fossil, ancient artifacts to China
WASHINGTON, United States—The United States returned a dinosaur fossil to China Thursday believed to be about 120 million years old, as well as a trove of ancient cultural artifacts, US customs officials said.
“It’s a great pleasure to welcome home these 22 Chinese artifacts and one fossil given back by the United States. These treasures are symbols of ancient China civilization and of mother nature,” Ambassador Cui Tiankai told a ceremony at the Chinese embassy.
The microraptor fossil was falsely manifested as a “craft rock” and later as a “fossil replica” to conceal its true contents when it was illegally imported to the United States, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials said.
Among the artifacts ICE returned to the Chinese government were jade disks, bronze trays and other items dating back as far as 1600 BCE.
The fossil and treasures were seized in investigations that saw two people in the United States convicted and fined.
Since 2007, US authorities have repatriated more than 8,000 items to more than 30 countries.
“In returning these items today, ICE rights a great wrong for the people of China,” said ICE deputy director Daniel Ragsdale.
“Fossils and treasures like these will always be targeted by bad actors, but we continue to investigate these crimes and repatriate them to their rightful owners.”
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