Antiques trading feast kicks off in Beijing, attracting domestic, overseas collectors
Published: Sep 07, 2023 10:56 PM

Collectors examine wares at the Beijing China Art International Fair in Beijing on September 7, 2023. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Collectors examine wares at the Beijing China Art International Fair in Beijing on September 7, 2023. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Antique collectors and traders from both domestic and international origins are converging in Beijing in September to exchange stories and conduct trades related to antiques. This gathering is taking place during a cultural fair that opened on Thursday and combines both offline and online platforms for engagement.

The Beijing China Art International Fair opened on Thursday morning in Beijing Antique City at the Panjiayuan Antique Market in central Beijing. Featuring various activities such as exhibitions, auctions, seminars and antique appreciation, the fair is set to last until September 30.

At the opening ceremony held on Thursday morning, more than 400 high value cultural relics and art pieces from renowned domestic cultural exchange institutions and top collectors were showcased. The exhibited items spanned various dynasties and categories, ranging from exquisite Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) porcelain to Tibetan Buddhist sculptures, offering a captivating spectacle for visitors.

The Beijing China Art International Fair has also brought together over 100 cultural exchange institutions from 10 countries and more than 20 state-owned cultural relics shops, presenting nearly 10,000 Chinese and Western cultural relics and art pieces for online display and trading.

The event organizers have also extended invitations to over 30 state-owned cultural relics shops from across the country to gather in Beijing.

Zhang Jun from the Beijing Municipal Cultural Heritage Bureau, told the Global Times on Thursday that the displayed cultural relics at the exhibition are of very high quality and the total value of the more than 400 cultural relics is worth more than 1 billion yuan ($136 million).

She introduced that one of the event's highlights is the multiple auction channels with participants of over 230 companies from China and abroad, especially companies from countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative through both online and offline means.

"We can feel the enthusiasm of the auction companies and the antique collectors through the event, and hope that this fair can achieve a high turnover," Zhang said, adding that the Beijing China Art International Fair is the highest level fair in the trade of cultural relics in China, accounting for 70 percent of the total national trade volume in the category. Sometimes, the trade volume can rank at the top two or three in the world.

According to Zhang, in online auction transactions, Asian collections have always been the favorite products of Chinese antique collectors. Thanks to the online auction business, more Chinese cultural relics can return to China from aboard.

During the event, a series of 10 large-scale public appraisal events will be organized, featuring highly experienced industry experts from the Beijing Municipal Cultural Relics Appraisal Committee, Beijing Antique Cultural Relics Art Association and Beijing Municipal Cultural Relics Exchange Center. These appraisal events cover a diverse range of categories, effectively catering to the cultural relics appreciation needs of enthusiasts.

The Beijing China Art International Fair is hosted by the Beijing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage and serves as a significant component of the China International Fair for Trade in Services, specifically dedicated to the cultural and tourism services sector.

On Thursday, in the parking lot of Beijing Antique City, vendors showcased their merchandise within hundreds of temporary tent stalls. These stalls featured a wide range of items, including Chinese calligraphy, paintings, porcelain and handicrafts, as well as products from merchants hailing from Central Asia and Europe, offering foreign coins, jade and other commodities for sale.

Michael, one the vendors from Poland selling amber, told the Global Times on Thursday that he has completed several trades on the first day of the event, which thrilled him. 

"Beijing is a good place for selling my amber as it is a very large market, and sometimes the business here is better than my business in Las Vegas in the US," he said.

Another exhibitor from Pakistan told the Global Times he comes to different fairs in China almost every year to sell agate, as the trade environment in China makes him feel very comfortable.

One trade stall with the banner "repatriation from the Europe" has attracted many customers. The host of the booth, a 60-something Chinese man surnamed Yang, told the Global Times that he is a die-hard collector of Chinese porcelain, and has stayed in the UK for 10 years. The cultural relics he currently sells are from different fairs he wandered through in Europe. 

As an "expert" in Chinese porcelain, Yang said he becomes full of anger every time he sees some relics being sold at various fairs in Europe that are Chinese relics looted in history.

"When can the plundered Chinese cultural relics from the British Museum return to China?" he sighed, expressing his concern about the recently revealed theft of around 2,000 artifacts from the British Museum.