Page last updated at 11:55 GMT, Monday, 16 February 2009

China to lend treasures to Taiwan

National Palace Museum in Taipei
Taipei's National Palace Museum will hold the exhibition in October

China is to lend 29 treasures to Taiwan for an exhibition - the first such cultural exchange in 60 years.

The artefacts from Beijing's Palace Museum date from the Qing Dynasty, and will be shown for three months at the National Palace Museum in Taipei.

Between them, the two museums are believed to have the world's most precious collection of Chinese relics.

A huge collection has been kept in Taiwan since nationalists headed there when China's civil war ended in 1949.

When the nationalist party retreated to Taiwan in 1949, they took more than half a million of China's most precious artefacts with them.

It will be the first time treasures have been lent to Taiwan since the end of that conflict, when the Chinese Communist Party took power on the mainland.

Emperor's portraits

The Taipei exhibition will focus on Emperor Yongzheng (1722-1735) of the Qing Dynasty (1616-1911).

As part of the show the museum needs to exhibit portraits of Yongzheng and his concubines from Beijing's museum, which is located in city's Forbidden City.

Chou Kung-shi, director of Taipei's National Palace Museum, told reporters in Beijing on Sunday: "We have realised how sincere the mainland has been in inviting us to every corner of the Forbidden City."

The exchange is being seen as the latest sign of improvement in relations between Taiwan and mainland China.

Nevertheless, Taiwan remains reluctant to send any of the treasures it holds to China for fear that they may be impounded, although it has lent them to other countries.

Taiwan has been ruled separately since the end of the civil war, but Beijing sees the island as a breakaway province which should be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary.

Talks were also held at the weekend about the possibility of another joint exhibition for the 2010 World Expo, the China Daily reported.

During the landmark visit by the museum officials, agreements were signed on personnel exchange, co-operation in academic research, exhibits and publishing.

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