Chinese relics illegally sold online

Updated: Mar 21, 2011, 15:24 PM IST

Beijing: Valuable Chinese relics are now finding their way outside the country through a growing illegal online business, a media report said Monday.

The State Administration of Cultural Heritage said over 200 online e-commerce websites were offering trade in Chinese cultural relics.

Many of the websites were illegal and operating without a license, the Shanghai Daily reported.

Although police have cracked down on the illegal trade and several sellers have been arrested, the business was still thriving.

Last year, over one million relics and antiques were exported via the internet, with a transaction value of up to a billion yuan ($152 million).

An investigation found that on the international e-commerce site eBay, around 49,000 antiques can be found for sale.

These range from old Chinese coins with prices as low as under a dollar to rare paintings from the Ming Dynasty on offer at prices up to $20 million.

Vases, Buddha statues, masks and even ancient idols are on sale.

Sellers claim the items are genuine and offer certificates from experts.