Chairman and CEO of French luxury giant PPR, Francois-Henri Pinault, announced Friday that he would donate a bronze rat head and a bronze rabbit head, originally taken from China's royal garden Yuanmingyuan during an invasion in 1860, to the Chinese government.
Pinault made the announcement while meeting officials from the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) in Beijing on Friday, according to a report posted on the SACH website.
It came one day after Chinese President Xi Jinping and visiting French President Francois Hollande pledged to promote a "multi-polar" and more balanced world.
The animal heads are two of 12 bronze animal heads which were created during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
As of 2012, five of them had been returned to China after Chinese buyers purchased them through overseas auctions. In 2009, the rat head and the rabbit head were auctioned in Paris, attracting wide attention from the international community. China opposed the auction, according to the website.
The Pinault family bought the two heads from their previous owner, and plans to donate them to China.
"The donation fits with the principles of relevant international covenants on the protection of cultural relics and is a demonstration of French friendship with the Chinese people," said the report on the SACH website.
"It would be good for more Chinese relics to be returned to China."
"The donation also signifies the Pinault family support of Chinese relic protection and reflects that the international community understands that relics should be returned to their own countries," it said.