China to demolish Sphinx replica after Egyptian complaints
Chinese version of the Sphinx - REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic

CAIRO: China will demolish its newly unveiled replica of Egypt’s Great Sphinx after the Egyptian antiquities minister complained about the statue, Xinhua news agency reported this week.

The Chinese version of Egypt’s Sphinx strained relations between the two countries, as the replica was viewed by some as an insult to Egypt’s cultural heritage, and raised questions over the legality of such an act.

However, Mohamed Mahmoud, a lawyer at the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, told The Cairo Post that Egypt has no national law that copyrights its antiquities.

“In most Western countries, such laws generally protect copyrighted property for a specific amount of time,” he said.

The antiquities minister complained to UNESCO about the Chinese Sphinx, saying it violated the third paragraph of Article VI of the 1972 UNESCO Convention, which states, “Each country included in the agreement pledges not to take any deliberate procedure that would either directly or indirectly harm the cultural and natural heritage located in the other countries involved in the agreement.”

Commenting on Egyptian ire, the Chinese authorities said that “the Chinese Sphinx will be used for filming specific and dramatic scenes, and then, it would be demolished,” describing it as a “temporary private initiate launched by China for a specific reason,” Xinhua reported.

The director of theme parks in China told Xinhua that the park respects international cultural heritage and expressed his apologies for any misunderstanding.

The under-construction Chinese version of the Sphinx is part of a new theme park featuring fake cityscapes to attract tourists and to be used for movie production purposes, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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