Actor Jackie Chan said he would respect the decision of Taipei Palace Museum in Taiwan to remove 12 replicas that Chan donated of the 12 animal heads of the Chinese zodiac looted by the Anglo-French Allied forces from the Old Summer Palace in Beijing in 1860.
Seven of the animal heads have been returned to China, but five are still missing, and they are a potent symbol of nationalism and anger over historical humiliations.
The Taipei Palace Museum said on Thursday that it has decided to remove the exhibit of the 12 animal head sculptures, which have been mocked because they are copies, and are seen by some critics as symbols of Beijing's increasing cultural sway on the island. The museum said it will discuss the future of the statues.
A spokesperson for Chan said that Chan donated the replica sculptures to Taipei Palace Museum because it was an institute that "respects and protects culture," the BBC reported.
"If the museum held a different attitude on culture respect and protection, we would respect that," said the spokesperson, adding that the gift was not "donating some arts and crafts, but passing an attitude."
The replica sculptures have been placed in the garden of the Taipei Palace Museum's branch in Chiayi of south Taiwan. The public was voiced questions about why replicas are on display.
Two of 12 bronze animal head sculptures donated by Jackie Chan to the new branch of the Taipei Palace Museum were sprayed with red paint by two unidentified persons days after they were exhibited in December 2015, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The original animal head sculptures formed a zodiac water clock at Yuanmingyuan in Beijing, the Old Summer Palace built by Emperor Qianlong (1736-1795). The originals were looted from the royal garden by Anglo-French Allied forces during the Second Opium War in 1860.