Testimony of Louisa Greve for Consideration by the Cultural Property Advisory Committee


June 5, 2023

Testimony of Louisa Greve, Director of Global Advocacy 

On behalf of Omer Kanat, Executive Director

Cultural Property Advisory Committee Meeting to review proposed extension of the U.S. cultural property agreement with the Government of the People’s Republic of China

Virtual OpenSession 

Thanks to Chair Jones, and Executive Director Davis, and all the members of the Committee. I appreciate the opportunity to comment on behalf of Mr. Omer Kanat, Executive Director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP).

UHRP opposes an extension of the US-China MOU.

First, such an extension would contradict State Department policy and the inter-agency U.S. Strategy to Anticipate, Prevent and Respond to Atrocity Crimes, issued in May 2022, pursuant to the Elie Wiesel Atrocity Prevention Act of 2018. This Committee must not brush aside an ongoing genocide, which includes an extremely thorough cultural genocide. The Chinese government’s policies fit the UNESCO definition of “strategic cultural cleansing.” It cannot be right that the State Dept will ask President Biden to make the determination that China is protecting cultural patrimony, regarding the very government that Secretary Blinken himself has determined is conducting ongoing atrocity crimes, and specifically crimes against humanity and genocide.

Second, the Committee should take account of ancient and modern boundaries of the Uyghur homeland and past Chinese dynastic control or suzerainty over the cultural patrimony of the Uyghur people. Regarding the Tang Dynasty in particular, which is the end-point for the time period covered by this MOU (in the case of metal, ceramic, stone, textiles, etc): the Chinese government promotes a narrative of continued and continuous sovereignty over the Uyghur homeland, while suppressing scholarship and evidence regarding the archeological and other historical record. The presence of Tang antiquities in the Uyghur homeland is weaponized to shore up a politicized narrative.

UHRP associates itself with the recommendations of the Committee for Cultural Policy and the Global Heritage Alliance. In short, we strongly object to any USG certification that the PRC has a track record of protecting “cultural patrimony.” If such a determination is made, UHRP will protest the determination.

Thank you.