A Chinese antique collector says he will not pay for two Chinese relics that he won at a Paris auction last week because Beijing ruled that he cannot bring them into China.
China's official Xinhua news agency quoted Cai Minchao Tuesday as saying that China's cultural relics agency issued an order barring the entry of the artifacts a day after the (February 25th) auction.
He says that ruling prompted his refusal to pay his winning $40 million bid for the two bronze animal heads.
Xinhua quotes Cai as saying that he bid for the Chinese relics because he feared they would disappear forever if they were auctioned to someone else.
Chinese media praised Cai as a patriot and published surveys showing 60 to 70 percent of respondents supporting his actions. But others criticized Cai's decision not to pay for the relics, saying it could damage China's reputation.
Beijing opposed the sale of the sculptures by auction house Christie's and demanded they be returned to China. The relics were among 12 zodiac animal heads looted from Beijing's imperial Summer Palace by French and British troops in 1860.
Berge earlier had offer to return the statues to China if Beijing agreed to improve human rights, give liberty to the Tibetan people and welcome the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader. China's foreign ministry called the offer "ridiculous."
The two animal heads were part of the art collection of the late French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Berge.