Taiwan and China have signed an agreement that will allow Taiwanese athletes to compete in mainland China for the first time in four decades, officials said Friday.

The announcement came one day after Taiwan agreed to send an official delegation to China for the first time. The 12-member Taiwanese government delegation, led by Finance Minister Shirley Kuo, will attend the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank in Beijing next month.The decisions were regarded as steps in a Nationalist initiative to counter Communist China's efforts to isolate Taiwan internationally.

The agreement for the athletes' visit was signed Thursday in Hong Kong.

Officials said the agreement would permit Taiwan to send a team to the Asian Junior Gymnastics championship, which begins in Beijing on April 21.

Taiwan also plans to compete in next year's Asian Games in Beijing, and 10 other international sports competitions in China later this year, officials said.