Taipei: Taiwan's National Palace Museum said on Friday it will open its first-ever joint exhibition with China next week, 60 years after they split amid civil war.
The announcement comes 16 months into Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's presidency, which he has focused on improving ties and expanding exchanges with China.
The museum has borrowed 37 relics from the Beijing Palace Museum for its exhibition on the Chinese Qing Dynasty's 18th century Emperor Yongzheng.
"We decided on a joint exhibition on Emperor Yongzheng partly because we have a rich collection from the period ourselves, partly because we want to carry out the government's policy" to pursue broader exchanges with China, Taiwanese museum director Chou Kung-shin said.
The exhibition opens on October 7 and runs for three months. The antique pieces provided by the Beijing museum include an imperial stone seal with the inscription, "being an emperor is difficult," and a massive Yongzheng portrait.
Last February, Chou became the first chief of her organisation to visit the Forbidden City in 60 years and won the Beijing museum's consent for cooperation.
Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, but Beijing continues to claim the island as part of its territory.
The ownership of the Chinese cultural relics currently stored in the Taiwan museum remains a highly sensitive issue between the two sides.
In the waning stages of the Chinese civil war, the forces of Nationalist strongman Chiang Kai-shek moved 600,000 items of Chinese calligraphy, porcelain, bronzes, landscape paintings, portraiture and figurines from the imperial collection in the Forbidden City to Taiwan.
The massive art transfer created the world's greatest museum of Chinese art in Taiwan at the expense of its counterpart on the mainland.
Taiwan has long defended the decision, saying it was a necessary step to save China's cultural heritage from Mao Zedong's Communists. China says the art was stolen and rightfully belongs to Beijing.
Because of the Chinese claim, Taiwan has been reluctant to lend its artefacts to China out of the fear that they would not be returned.
Chou declined on Friday to answer questions about whether China would be allowed to borrow antique pieces from her museum for an exhibition.
First Published: Friday, October 02, 2009, 13:00