05/10/2007, 00.00

Taiwan’s changing landscape, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall renamed

Taiwan’s government approves renaming the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall. Kuomintang cries foul.

Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Taiwanese government yesterday approved a proposal to change the name of Taiwan's Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, one of Taipei’s landmarks, and rename it the Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall in honour of the island's democratic development.

“With the deletion of the statute (governing the Hall’s administration), the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall will be renamed the Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall,” cabinet spokeswoman Chen Mei-ling said.

The Education Ministry, which will supervise the management of the renamed memorial, will also decide when to reopen it after ongoing renovation work is completed, said Ms Chen.

The complex includes a monument, a park, an opera house, a concert hall, an arch and surrounding walls—all in traditional Chinese designs.

It is not clear though whether a huge statue of Chiang will be removed or dismantled.

Reactions to the decision were swift. Lawmakers from President Chen Shui-bian’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) welcomed the move, saying that there was no reason to remember a "dictator" who had killed so many people in Taiwan.

Nationalists from the Kuomintang (heirs to the generalissimo) cried foul. KMT MP Pan Wei-kang called the change a DPP attempt to erase the legacy of the late KMT leader in order to please pro-independence supporters ahead of legislative elections in December and the presidential poll in March.

The decision to rename the Hall is part of a wider campaign of change promoted by the DPP. It involves removing every reference to mainland China in public buildings and institutions ranging from public transit to stamps from the island to highlight the fact that the island has been effectively independent since 1949.

For Beijing this decision represents the latest attempt at cutting ties binding the island to the mainland. For Communist China, the island remains a rebel province that must eventually join the rest of the nation, by force if necessary.

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See also
For the first time since 1949 Taiwan to open office in China
Rededicated to democracy ex-Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall reopens
Trial of former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian opens
Removing the memory of Chiang Kai-shek, a internal challenge in Taiwan
Government to remove all Chiang Kai-shek statues