On 23 March 2019, during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first official visit to Rome, Italy agreed to return 796 cultural relics to China.
This was the single largest return of Chinese cultural relics over the past 20 years, and the action spurred much nationalist sentiment among Chinese citizens, particularly online, being framed as another victory for a rising and more confident China on the international scene.
Spanning 5,000 years of Chinese history, the artefacts had been illegally exported to Italy in 2007.
Once returned, they were exhibited at the National Museum of China in Beijing from 24 April to 30 June 2019.
Jointly organized by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the National Cultural Heritage Administration, the exhibition was entitled “The Journey Back Home: An Exhibition of Chinese Artifacts Repatriated from Italy”.