Now that China have overtaken Japan to become the second largest economy in the world, it is interesting to see one area in which they are flexing their newly gained financial muscularity.

China Daily reports that Chinese art buyers and investors are 'setting the trends' at many major auction houses around the world (europe.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2011-02/18/content_12038773_2.htm). According to professor Mei Jianping of Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing, what we are witnessing is a repeat of the 1980s when everyone watched Japanese buyers like hawks so as to see what was hot and what was not.

"Then there was a lot of speculation on impressionists since people thought the Japanese were coming and they would buy a lot of impressionists. At the moment there is a focus on Chinese art and people are buying it because there is an expectation the Chinese purchases will drive up the market." Professor Mei Jianping said.

The Mei Moses Traditional Chinese Art Index, which the professor set up jointly with Professor Michael Moses and tracks auction prices, has seen a 225% rise in three years.

It seems that the Chinese are especially keen on reclaiming art that has left their shores over the centuries.

So check the loft, as one vase that had adorned a Chinese palace in 1740 and had been found in a deceased estate in the UK and auctioned off at Bainbridge's in Ruislip went for a staggering £53.1 million. Despite being insured for the princely sum of £800.

We could be seeing the formation of a Chinese art bubble.

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