Practice Relating to Rule 40. Respect for Cultural Property
China’s Law Governing the Trial of War Criminals (1946) provides that “plundering of historical, artistic or other cultural treasures” constitutes a war crime.
In 1973, in a statement on the return of plundered works of art, China stated:
The precious cultural heritage of the Chinese people also suffered from plunder and destruction by imperialists and colonialists. In the past 100 years, starting from 1840, troops of the imperialist powers invaded China many times, and each time the cultural heritage of the Chinese people suffered tremendously. They took away what they could, smashed those items which they could not take as a whole and then took away the pieces, destroyed and burned what they eventually could not take away. Apart from the large scale plunder and destruction by the invading troops, China’s historical relics and art treasures were also stolen by adventurers of different kinds by fair or foul means.
In 1977, in a statement on human rights in the Israeli-occupied territories, China stated that the Israeli Authority had
rudely interfered with the religious beliefs of the Arab people, had of lot of old buildings in Jerusalem pulled down and the occupants moved elsewhere, and damaged the precious Arab and Muslim historical relics.