Beijing’s National Palace Museum is preparing to ship 37 prized cultural artefacts to its rival institution in Taiwan in the first exchange between the competing museums, state press said Wednesday.
The items will be part of a joint exhibition with Taipei’s National Palace Museum focusing on the Qing dynasty emperor Yong Zheng, who ruled China for 13 years until 1735, the Beijing News said.
The exchange will be the first since China’s civil war ended in 1949 with Nationalist armies carting off crates of some of the finest imperial treasures once housed in Beijing’s Forbidden City to Taiwan.
The loss of the items has long been a sore spot with China’s communist rulers, who continue to view Taiwan as part of Chinese territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.
Among the Beijing artefacts to be on display in Taiwan are several paintings of the Qing emperor, the paper said.
The Beijing museum has insured the items for 35.6 million dollars, the paper said. No dates were given for when the shipment would depart Beijing, but an “opening crate ceremony” would be held in Taipei on October 2, it said.
The exhibition will open on October 7 and run until the end of the year, the paper said.
The exchange comes amid a warming of ties across the Taiwan Strait since Taiwan’s mainland-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou took office last year.
An agreement signed by the two museums in March, paving the way for the exhibition in Taipei, was widely seen as a further sign of improving relations.
The Taipei museum has made it clear it will not lend any of its collection of more than 655,000 Chinese items spanning 7,000 years to Beijing before the two sides forge an agreement exempting the items from confiscation.