Vatican, China exchange art amid stall in hard diplomacy

Alessandra Tarantino

Vatican Museum director Barbara Jatta, center arrives with Monsignor Paolo Nicolini, left, and Zhu Jiancheng, secretary general China Culture Industrial Investment Fund, right, for a press conference at the Vatican, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. The Vatican and China have announced a first-ever exchange of artworks for exhibits in Beijing and the Vatican Museums, as the two states forge ahead with soft diplomacy amid a stalemate in negotiations to heal decades of diplomatic estrangement. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican and China are planning a first-ever exchange of artworks for exhibits in China and the Vatican Museums, as the two states forge ahead with soft diplomacy amid a stalemate in negotiations to heal decades of diplomatic estrangement.

The parallel exhibits announced Tuesday, involving an exchange of 40 works of art from the Vatican’s collection of Chinese bronzes, ceramics, cloisonne and paintings, and 40 works from China, are due to open simultaneously in March in the Forbidden City and the Vatican’s Anima Mundi ethnological museum.

The head of the government’s China Culture Industrial Investment Fund, Zhu Jiancheng, told a Vatican news conference that he hoped the exchanges would reinforce friendship, build mutual trust and “contribute to the normalization of diplomatic relations.”

The dual exhibitions would “open a new era in people-to-people exchanges between China and the Vatican,” he said. The exhibit in China will travel to four other cities after its Beijing inauguration, including Xian and Shanghai.

The investment fund is a Chinese government and…

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