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Qing relics set to travel to Taiwan

The mainland has agreed to lend 29 Qing Dynasty relics from Beijing's Palace Museum - better known as Forbidden City - to Taiwan to be displayed at a joint exhibition in October.


The Forbidden City and Taipei's "National Palace Museum" signed seven other agreements at their first-ever high-level meeting in Beijing yesterday. The two museums together have the most precious collection of Chinese relics.


Two months ago, Hsu Hsiao-te, head of the Cultural Arts Fund at Taiwan's "National Palace Museum" said his museum was planning to stage a joint exhibition in three to five years.


The 29 Qing Dynasty relics, separated 60 years ago because of the civil war, will travel for the first time to Taiwan. Some relics originally in the collection of the Forbidden City were carried to Taiwan before the founding of the People's Republic of China.


A three-month exhibition, with the focus on Emperor Yongzheng (1722-1735) of the Qing Dynasty (1616-1911), is likely to be held in Taiwan in October, for which the island needs to borrow the portraits of Yongzheng and his concubines from the mainland.


Personal exchange, cooperation in academic research, exhibitions, and publishing and sales of souvenirs are part of the agreements reached yesterday.


Chou Kung-shi, director of Taipei's "National Palace Museum" told a press conference in Beijing yesterday: "We have realized how sincere the mainland has been in inviting us to every corner of the Forbidden City."


Chou was highly impressed by the rich collection in the Forbidden City. "We really need to boost our communication to better serve people across the Straits," she said.


Chou and her team will leave for Shanghai today to discuss the possibility of holding a joint exhibition of the relics from the two museums at the 2010 World Expo.


Taiwan may agree to send part of the famous Song Dynasty painting, Riverside Scene at the Pure Moon Festival, to Shanghai so that the complete work can be displayed there. The other part of the painting is in Beijing.


But Chou said one of the biggest problems hampering the display of relics from the Taipei museum on the mainland was the law.


Taiwan is reluctant to "lend" antiques to the mainland because mainland laws don't have a "free of capture and seizure" clause, and Taiwan fears the mainland could impound them, the island's media reported.


Taipei "National Palace Museum" has very strict rules on antiques. In 1996, the US became the first to borrow them to hold an exhibition on a "free of capture and seizure" condition. Later, France, Germany and Austria did the same.


Chou, however, said discussions between the two sides this time was not aimed at solving these problems. Earlier, she had said: "No official document or memorandum will be signed during this visit."


(China Daily February 16, 2009)