The 'strong reaction' to the sale of relics looted from the mainland reflected SAR citizens' patriotism, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa said last night. Mr Tung, discussing the controversy for the first time, said the auction by Christie's and Sotheby's in defiance of Beijing had aroused deep feelings. 'Why should the auction in Hong Kong of four national antiques from the late Qing dynasty have such strong repercussions in our society?' he asked. 'I believe not only is it a fact that the four artefacts belonged to our country, but above all else because the way they were removed from the country became a symbol of Chinese national humiliation. 'The strong reaction of Hong Kong people towards the auctions demonstrates our patriotic sentiments and expresses our hope that such misfortunes will never again befall our country or the Chinese people,' he said, addressing a ceremony to mark the 81st anniversary of the May Fourth Movement. Jiang Enzhu, the head of the central Government's Liaison Office in Hong Kong, said a solution to the problem should be found. 'I am aware the question is rather complicated. Some people therefore proposed that a good solution to the problem should be studied,' he said after the ceremony.