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We should give others a taste of 'Jadeite Cabbage'

Taiwan may not always give the best first impression to those abroad, since much of the local news which rises to fame internationally includes childish fights among lawmakers in the Legislative Yuan. Perhaps such a dent in the country's image may slowly recede with soft power boosters such as the “Jadeite Cabbage with Insects” traveling overseas as a Taiwan cultural ambassador for the first time.

Regarded as the crown jewel of the National Palace Museum (NPM), the renowned, century-old “Jadeite Cabbage” may be exhibited overseas for the very first time next year with a trip to Japan.

Officials recently announced that the NPM is to lend roughly 200 Chinese artworks and artifacts to the Tokyo National Museum for a 12-week exhibition from June to September, as well as an additional eight weeks for exhibition at the Kyushu National Museum in Fukuoka prefecture later in the year. The signature artifact of the NPM, the “Jadeite Cabbage,” would also be included in the exhibits.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said during a visit to Japan that the museum would lend both the cabbage piece and its “Meat-shaped Stone” to the Tokyo National Museum. If the collaboration and organization of this international-scale exhibition is successful, the two museums would also plan for an exchange exhibition in Taiwan, with valuable artifacts and artworks from Japan being exhibited in the NPM in 2017. However, there has yet been confirmation of the exchange or which artifacts would be lent out for exhibition in Japan.

Opposition voices of this soft diplomacy have emerged as some locals have said that removing the crown jewel from the NPM would decrease visitor numbers as well as revenue flow. In the last year alone, the “Jadeite Cabbage” saw more than 4.36 million visitors. Successful marketing of the artwork has also reeled in approximately NT$400 million in revenue in admission fees alone, not including related merchandise purchased from the NPM, which totaled NT$140 million.

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