First Time China Has Lent Rare Artifacts To Taiwan Since End Of Chinese Civil War In 1949
As ties between China and Taiwan have gradually become closer (particularly in the last year, following the election of Ma Ying-jeou), stories of cross-straits cooperation are becoming increasingly common. From China’s opening of direct flights to Taiwan to increased Taiwanese investment in the mainland (and vice versa) to today’s story about China sending 40 Qing Dynasty-era artifacts to Taipei’s National Palace Museum this October, cooperative gestures between Beijing and Taipei are something of a welcome sign.
Although simmering disputes remain between the two governments about thousands of artifacts taken to Taiwan as the Nationalist army made its retreat to the island in 1949 — which Beijing has sought to repatriate for decades — this exhibition is seen by many as a conciliatory step towards more direct talks on the future of the Chinese artifacts held in Taiwan’s National Palace Museum. As the BBC writes,
About 650,000 paintings, bronzes, porcelain and jade from Beijing’s imperial collection were packed into crates to escape the Japanese army in the 1930s.
When the Communists under Mao Zedong won the Chinese civil war, Mao’s defeated rival Chiang Kai-shek left for Taiwan and took the artefacts with him.
Decades later, the loss of these artefacts still riles the Beijing government.
China recently criticised the Taipei museum for telling a distorted historical story with some of the objects, and Taiwan is very careful when lending the artefacts abroad for fear of Chinese attempts to seize or claim them.
But now, according to the BBC’s arts correspondent Laurence Pollard, the Chinese appear to be dealing with the museum in a normal, scholarly way, helping mount a joint exhibition.
This exhibition illustrates the importance culture can have in diplomatic exchanges, our correspondent says.
As Shanghai Daily points out, these artifacts — from the reign of Emperor Yongzheng of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) — will be displayed with 209 items from royal collections owned by the Taiwan museum:
The royal collections that will travel to Taiwan include portraits of Emperor Yongzheng and his mistresses.
“They were outstanding artworks among our collections in the reign of Emperor Yongzheng,” Li said. “We sent the best we have.”
The joint exhibition is the result of hard work from both sides, Feng said.
“The cooperation and exchanges between the two museums progressed very quickly. What we did in the past six months was what we should have done in the past six decades,” she said.