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Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012

With return agreed, Taiwan to lend China treasures for exhibit

Kyodo

TAIPEI — Japan will hold an exhibition of ancient Chinese art treasures from Taiwan's National Palace Museum in 2014, museum director Chou Kung-shin said.

Chou said last week the exhibition, the first of its kind in Asia outside of Taiwan, could take place from June to September.

She said the timing and other details will be finalized when Masami Zeniya, executive director of the Tokyo National Museum, visits Taiwan to discuss the matter with her.

To date, the treasures have only been exhibited in four foreign countries — the United States, France, Germany and Austria — all of which enacted laws beforehand to guarantee their return to Taiwan after the exhibitions.

The Diet passed similar legislation last March to address Taiwan's concern that China could seek to have the artifacts and artworks impounded if there were no such law.

Chou, who met with Hiroyuki Shimatani, the Tokyo National Museum's deputy director, on Feb. 8, said he told her Diet members will soon visit Taiwan to discuss the planned exhibition with her ahead of Zeniya's visit, for which a date has not yet been set.

The National Palace Museum in Taipei is home to an extensive collection of Chinese antiquities, including scrolls, calligraphy, seals and vases collected by various Chinese emperors over a millennium.

The Nationalist Party took more than 650,000 art objects to Taiwan after losing the Chinese civil war to the communists in 1949.

Since then, Taiwan and China have been governed separately. China views Taiwan as part of its territory and claims the treasures housed in the National Palace Museum are its own.

But thanks to the rapid thawing of cross-strait tension since 2008, the National Palace Museum has held exhibitions showcasing Chinese relics on loan from Chinese museums.

In 2009, the museum held an unprecedented joint exhibition with Beijing's Palace Museum, which lent 37 Qing dynasty artifacts to boost the Taiwan museum's three-month event.

China's Zhejiang Provincial Museum last year loaned Taiwan a section of an ancient scroll to be displayed together with another section held by the National Palace Museum, the two being originally part of the same scroll, after 360 years of separation.

However, the loans have so far been one way, with Taiwan still balking at lending its treasures to China, citing lack of international standards for the care and return of museum pieces on loan.



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