China art auctioneers face off with foreign rivals

HONG KONG -- Chinese and international auction houses are encroaching on each other's territory in Hong Kong and Beijing for the first time this autumn sale season as they step up the battle for the Asian art market.

China Guardian Auctions Co. held a small sale of Chinese ink paintings, calligraphy and furniture last weekend in Hong Kong. It was the first ever sale outside mainland China for Guardian.

The 19-year-old firm went head-to-head with 268-year-old global giant Sotheby's, which was holding its traditional fall sales in the former British colony.

China's top auctioneer, Beijing Poly International Auction Co., plans its first sale in Hong Kong next month. The two firms are trying to raise their profile internationally.

Sotheby's, meanwhile, is expanding into mainland China with a joint venture.