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China warns museums to tighten security after series of embarrassing thefts
Palace Museum spokesman Feng Naien looks at a list of stolen art pieces during a news conference inside the Forbidden City in Beijing Wednesday, May 11, 2011. Officials scrambled to figure out how thieves broke into China's famed Forbidden City, the heavily guarded former home of the country's emperors, and stole seven art pieces made of gold and encrusted with jewels made in the 20th century on loan from the private Liang Yi Museum in Hong Kong. AP Photo/Andy Wong.
BEIJING (REUTERS).- China has ordered its museums to tighten security after a series of embarrassing thefts, including at Beijing's Palace Museum, and will temporarily shut those which don't meet standards, state media reported on Wednesday.

Curators at the Palace Museum, housed in the former home of China's last emperors in the Forbidden City, were left red faced after several items loaned from a Hong Kong museum were stolen in May.

"People who have been lured by the high profits attained through the theft and smuggling of ancient relics tend to set their targets on various museums," state news agency Xinhua cited a notice from Ministry of Public Security and State Administration of Cultural Heritage as saying.

"Police and cultural authorities should examine museum security systems and improve training for museum guards. Museums should make emergency response plans and conduct emergency drills every six months to improve their ability to handle thefts."

Museums which don't improve their security before the end of the year will be closed until they can take steps to convince the government they have no loopholes or flaws a thief could exploit, Xinhua said.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)

© Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved.





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