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Thursday, 1 June, 2000, 01:51 GMT 02:51 UK
K2 brings rivals together
K2 was first conquered in 1954
K2 was first conquered in 1954
By Francis Markus in Taipei

Six Taiwanese mountaineers and an accompanying television crew are embarking on a joint expedition with mainland Chinese climbers to conquer the world's second highest mountain, known as K2.

The mountain, rising to more than 8,000 metres, straddles Chinese- and Pakistani-controlled territory.

The joint climb is the most ambitious of its kind for several years, and it is an illustration that contacts between the two rivals have been steadily multiplying in many areas despite the political tension.


Taiwanese singer A Mei
Blaclisted in China: Taiwanese singer A Mei is an example of continuing bad blood between China and Taiwan
The six Taiwanese members of the expedition will join a larger contingent of climbers from mainland China to start the ascent from China's north-western Xinjiang region.

A crew from one of Taiwan's cable television networks, plan to transmit what the station says will be unprecedented daily live satellite coverage of the expedition.

Political clouds

This is the first time in several years that mountaineers from Taiwan and China have joined forces in such a challenge to the elements. In 1993, the two rivals staged a joint ascent of Mount Everest.

But politically, relations between Taipei and Beijing have been mostly on a downward slope for the last few years.

After the recent inauguration of Chen Shui-bien as Taiwan's first President from the traditionally pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, China has been putting various forms of pressure on the island.

Provoking almost unanimous anger among Taiwanese, Beijing has blacklisted Taiwan's most high-profile pop star, A Mei, for singing the national anthem at the presidential inauguration.

But if this joint expedition, planned long in advance, goes ahead smoothly, it will at least be a reminder that sporting, academic and cultural contacts continue to multiply, despite the political tension.

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See also:

21 May 00 | South Asia
Everest ascent record slashed
02 Feb 00 | South Asia
Everest's 'new height' disputed
10 Apr 00 | South Asia
India opens up Himalaya peaks
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