The Philadelphia City Government has issued an official written apology to China for the damage done to an exhibiting terracotta warrior caused by a visitor at the Franklin Institute in Pennsylvania, where 10 of the figures were on display.
David Oh, of the Philadelphia City Council, wrote in the apology that the city council “unanimously passed a Resolution” to apologize to China for the damage.
The written apology was replied to by Zhang Qiyue, China’s Consul General in New York, and forwarded to the Shaanxi Cultural Relics Exchange Center on April 5.
Zhang said in the reply that the isolated case "will not affect the robust cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two sides."
A World Heritage Artifact loaned by the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center was on show from the end of September last year.
According to an arrest affidavit filed by an FBI agent, the visitor, Michael Rohana, 24, snuck into the closed exhibit on December 21 and took a "selfie" with the warrior, worth US$4.5 million.
He then allegedly broke off the statue’s left thumb and pocketed it before leaving the event with friends. FBI recovered the thumb some weeks later.
Rohana is currently on bail after his arrest and awaiting trial. He faces up to 30 years in jail.
Some Chinese netizens commented on Weibo that no punishment can make up for the damage of historic relics.
Built around 209 BC to stand guard over the tomb of the first emperor, the 8,000-strong Terracotta Army is one of China’s most important archaeological discoveries.
The army has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1987, and a major tourist attraction in Xi’an, capital of the northwestern province of Shaanxi.