Treasure hunters flock to Minjiang River after bronze plate discovery

By An Baijie - China Global Times

A riverside township in Pengshan, Sichuan Province has been swamped with treasure hunters ever since a bronze plate was discovered there. Local government officials said the gold rush is raising concern.

People have been turning up at the Minjiang River in Jiangkou township, Pengshan, where Zhang Xianzhong (1606-47), the leader of a peasant revolt during the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), sank numerous boats filled with jewelry, the Chengdu-based West China City Daily reported Monday.

A rumor that a gold plate was found in the riverbed raised interest among local residents. The local cultural relic office clarified that it was just a bronze plate and not gold but that revelation failed to immediately stop the gold rush.

Liao Mingfang, Party secretary of Shuangjiang village in Jiangkou, told the Global Times Monday that about 300 treasure hunters visited the bank of the Minjiang River every day.

Liao said some of them have found gold or silver jewelry and they sold them or kept it. "Some villagers could sell a ring or necklace for 50,000 yuan ($7,500)," Liao said.

"Only three officials from the Pengshan Cultural Relic Bureau came to the riverside to stop the gold searchers, but none of the searchers abided by their orders," Liao said.

Fang Ming, deputy director at the Pengshan Cultural Relic Bureau, said that it is not confirmed whether there were treasures in Minjiang River of Jiangkou, the report said.

"However, anyone who find treasures must give them to the cultural relics bureau. Otherwise, they would be held accountable for concealing national cultural relics items," said Fang.

According to the Law on the Protection of Cultural Relics, anyone who refuses to hand over cultural relics could be fined up to 50,000 yuan ($7,499) and the items will be seized.