Taiwan's National Palace Museum

Taiwan's National Palace Museum on Friday gave a sneak preview of a joint exhibition it will open next week in partnership with its Beijing counterpart, in a sign of improved ties between the two capitals.

"Harmony and Integrity: Yongzheng Emperor and his Times" opens on October 7 and features 37 prized cultural artefacts from Beijing's palace museum, located in the Forbidden City.

The Yongzheng Emperor ruled China in the early 18th century. "We decided to hold an exhibition on Yongzheng last year and Beijing agreed to lend us 37 items to supplement our collection," the museum's director, Chou Kung-shin, told reporters.

The exchange marks the first of its kind since China's civil war ended in 1949 with Nationalist armies carting off to Taiwan crates of some of the finest imperial treasures housed in the Forbidden City.

The exhibition comes after the two museums reached a deal in March to cooperate, in yet another sign of improved ties since Taiwan's China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou took office last year.

Chou made the remarks while unpacking three items for the exhibition: a famed seal bearing one of Yongzheng's mottos, "being emperor is difficult", an enamel vase and a lacquer box.

She said Taiwan had insured the prized artefacts for 1.42 billion Taiwan US dollars (45 million US).

Yongzheng, who ruled for 13 years until 1735, is one of the most famous emperors of the Qing dynasty.

The loss of the items in 1949 has long been a sore spot with China's communist rulers, who continue to view Taiwan as part of the nation's territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

Chou said Taipei was unlikely to lend any part of its collection to Beijing in the near term before the two sides forge an agreement exempting items from confiscation.

(Source: Brisbane Times, 6 Oct 2009)

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