A top adviser to the Chief Executive said the decision by Sotheby's and Christie's to sell two looted Chinese relics in Hong Kong was a 'commercial activity that could not be more stupid'. Convenor of the Executive Council Leung Chun-ying said antiques were not 'ordinary national treasures' but relics lost during invasions by foreign forces in the most humiliating period in Chinese history. 'When I read statements made by the auction houses that the auctions were commercial activities with no political motives, I personally think these are commercial activities that could not be more stupid. This hurts very much the feelings of Hong Kong and Chinese people.' Mr Leung, however, said there was no need to legislate to ban the auctioning of national treasures. 'I don't expect commercial concerns to repeat their commercial stupidity,' he said. In an interview with Ta Kung Pao published yesterday, an unnamed spokesman for the State Bureau of Cultural Relics criticised the lack of legislation in Hong Kong to protect national relics. 'It's regrettable it has turned Hong Kong into one of the major places for illegal trading of cultural relics,' he said. Professor Albert Chen Hung-yee, head of the University of Hong Kong's law faculty, said there was no provision in present laws for the return of seized articles. There were two relevant international conventions, he said: a 1970 Unesco convention on the ownership of cultural property; and a 1995 Unidroit convention on stolen or illegally exported cultural objects. Unidroit is an international institution for the unification of private law. Both conventions allow signatory countries to claim back looted cultural properties from another signatory state. The Unidroit convention forces buyers of looted cultural properties to restore the objects to the state of origin while reserving buyers the right to compensation. Beijing acceded to the 1970 convention in 1990 and the Unidroit in 1996 but has yet to declare their application in the SAR. He said although their application in Hong Kong would not help restore cultural relics seized a long time ago because of the lack of retrogressive power, it would prevent transaction of those looted in recent years. More legislators have joined calls for laws to ban the sale of looted national treasures. Liberal Party chairman James Tien Pei-chun said: 'I don't think the two auction houses have done the right thing. They should respect the people of Hong Kong.'