However, these 'treasure hunters' have faced criticism of their own:
"The United States scouting tour — visits to England, France and Japan will come early next year — quickly turned into a spectacle sponsored by a Chinese liquor company. As for the eight-member delegation, a closer look revealed that most either were employed by the Chinese media or were from the palace museum’s propaganda department.
“These days even building a toilet at Yuanmingyuan would be front-page news in People’s Daily,” said Liu Yang, a researcher who joined the trip."
"Although the Chinese public broadly supports recovering such items, a few critics have suggested that the campaign merely distracts from the continued destruction of historic buildings and archaeological sites across the country. A government survey released this month found that 23,600 registered relics had disappeared in recent years because of theft or illicit sales, while tens of thousands of culturally significant sites had been plowed under for development.
What’s more, said Wu Zuolai, a professor at the China Academy of Art, the obsession with Yuanmingyuan ignores the plunder of older sites that are more artistically significant.
“Chinese history did not start with the Qing Dynasty,” he said. “This treasure hunting trip is just a political show. The media portray it as patriotic, but it’s just spreading hate.”"
There can be no doubt that the Opium War was a war of aggression fought for economic gain. There is also no doubt that the burning of the Yuanming Yuan was an unjustifiable act of vandalism. This said however, it happened almost 150 years ago, and is hardly the worst disaster to befall China in its history. The fact that billions of dollars worth of property was confiscated in 1949 from 'landlord' owners without compensation, and without even the slightest chance of the Chinese government compensating the surviving dispossessed and their families now, shows a selective view as to what constitutes a historical injustice.