Taiwan will remove all statues of Chiang Kai-shek – NRK Urix – Foreign News and Documentaries

Taiwan will remove all statues of Chiang Kai-shek – NRK Urix – Foreign News and Documentaries

Taiwan's new president, William Lai, is scheduled to be inaugurated on Monday. One of the government's projects is to remove monuments to Taiwan's first president (ROC), but the military is resisting.

The man who ruled Taiwan for 25 years is long gone. Large and small versions of him stand and sit in a row in the park, like statues.

Many tourists make a pilgrimage to the park, because although Taiwan is not recognized as an independent country, Chiang Kai-shek is always referred to as the “Father of the Country” on the island.

Chiang Kai-shek sits patiently smiling and cast in bronze on the throne, but his star status has faded.

Photograph: Sam Yeh/AFP

However, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party is not keen on Chiang, and wants all statues of him removed from public places.

To them, Xiang Shiren represents:

Taiwan's strong historical ties with China, and the island's authoritarian past.

The statue removal project is seen as an attempt to completely erase Chiang's legacy.

President-elect William Lai (Lai Ching Te) is expected to accelerate the task of putting the man who was the first president of the Republic of China into the shadows.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan

The flag was raised outside the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei.

Photograph: Xiang Yingying/AP

Authoritarian regime

The ruling party views Chiang as a dictator, but he was also a hero to many.

It was Chiang Kai-shek who fought the Communists in the civil war on the mainland.

When the Nationalists lost in 1949, Chiang and the soldiers fled to Taiwan and set up a provisional government.

The goal was not to remain isolated in Taiwan, but to seize power from the communists.

The Nationalists, or Kuomintang, wanted China to become one of them, but with their presence in the government.

Changing of the guard at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan

The public watches the changing of the guard at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, which occurs daily.

Photograph: Xiang Yingying/AP

Chiang imposed a state of military emergency and oversaw a strict authoritarian regime. Political opposition was suppressed, and several thousand were executed.

The former head of the Taiwan Veterans Council still believes it is unfair to see Chiang only in a negative light, without also recognizing his great importance.

-If it weren't for Chiang Kai-shek, who brought gold, talent and soldiers to Taiwan at that time, Taiwan would not have had the stable development we have today, Feng Shih-kuan tells the South China Morning Post. (SCMP).

Shi Kuo Yu turned 100 last year and lives in the Taoyuan Veterans Home in Taiwan.

Veteran Shi Kuo Yu turned 100 years old last year and lives at the Taoyuan Veterans Home in Taiwan.

Photography: Ann Wang/Reuters

Historical relations

Taiwan remained an autocracy even after Chiang's death in 1975, but the KMT later contributed to democratization, which was achieved in 1996.

Today, Taiwan is one of the most efficient democracies in the world. The Kuomintang is now in opposition and still defends historical relations with China.

The ruling party (DPP) enjoys significant support among young people. Many of them have a strong Taiwanese identity, and do not have the same nostalgic relationship with mainland China that older people tend to have.

People dance at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei

There is dancing outside the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei.

Photography: Ann Wang/Reuters

The distance that separates us from Taiwan's authoritarian past, and thus also from Chiang, the “father of the country,” revolves around the fact that Taiwan was not part of that history. They experience the reality of the time as far removed from their own, both in terms of time and ideology.

This is also related to the fact that they want to distance themselves from the regime in Beijing


There are still more than 760 statues of Chiang in public places, but there have also been clear signals from the government to remove the 250 statues that stand for military reasons.

This faces strong resistance.

Planting trees near the statue of Chiang Kai-shek in Sihu Memorial Sculpture Park.

Sihu Sculpture Park, located outside Taipei, has become a collection point for Chiang Kai-shek statues that no one wants anymore.

Photograph: Sam Yeh/AFP

When asked how the Ministry of Defense would handle their disposal, Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-ching replied:

– The statues that stand on military land are the property of the military institution, and as long as this does not constitute a violation of the law, why are they removed?

The Ministry of Defense says it considers the statues an integral part of the island's military history, rather than “symbols of authoritarian worship.”

However, the incoming president has given the position of Secretary of Defense to Wellington Koo, who has no military background and is expected to be more responsive to the government's demands.

Taiwan President-elect Lai Ching-te catches shrimp with Vice President-elect Hsiao Pei-chim (right) and foreign guests, the day before Lai's inauguration.

The day before William Lai takes office as president of Taiwan, he fishes for shrimp with the incoming vice president and foreign guests.

Photograph: Aden Hsu/AFP

Removes residue

Observers fear that the dispute with the army over Chiang will weaken morale among Taiwanese soldiers, and that this in turn could weaken the army and the country's security if there is an open armed conflict with China.

The authorities in Beijing will also be able to respond forcefully to the removal of Chiang's legacy.

Because although he was their fierce opponent at that time, it was also clear that Taiwan and mainland China should be one.

China insists that the island is part of the kingdom, and has described both the president-elect and Taiwan's defense minister as “stubborn separatists.”

A statue of Chiang Kai-shek outside the Taoyuan Veterans Home in Taiwan.

A statue of Chiang Kai-shek outside the Taoyuan Veterans Home in Taiwan.

Photography: Ann Wang/Reuters

In addition, some fear that the island's veterans will have problems swallowing, that the symbol of what they fought for is disappearing, and that they may develop dementia more easily.

05/20/2024 at 15.40

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Jabori Obasanjo

Jabori Obasanjo

"Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer."

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