ONE day in January 1949, an LST flying the red-and-blue ensign of Nationalist China pulled away from the dock at Nanking and headed down the muddy Yangtze, its tank deck crammed with a priceless cargo. Another heavily laden LST had already made its way safely across the East China Sea to Formosa. Later, a freighter was to complete the epic task of saving from Communist hands the art treasures assembled over the centuries, and collected in the Peking Palace Museum and Nanking's Central Museum.

Today the best of the old imperial collections reposes safely...

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