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Taiwan Is Debating How To Transform Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall To Cope With The Legacy Of Martial Law

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall  is one of Taipei 's most recognizable landmarks. The giant white structure with the blue roof was built in 1980  to commemorate Chiang Kai-shek , the dictator who had ruled the Republic of China (ROC) from 1927 to 1949 in mainland China, and - after losing the Chinese Civil War to Mao Zedong's Communists - from 1949 to 1975 on Taiwan.  Chiang Kai-shek's son, Chiang Ching-kuo , succeeded his father as the leader of the ROC on Taiwan and had the huge memorial hall built in Ming Dynasty palace style, which echoed the architecture of Chinese imperial mausoleums. Until the late 1980s, when Taiwan was still a dictatorship dominated by the Guomindang (Chinese Nationalist Party), it was dangerous to even question the official hagiography of Chiang Kai-shek. That began to change with the democratization of Taiwan. People could finally openly discuss the dark side of Chiang's rule. Chiang Kai-s

Chiang Kai-shek's Beheading and Ke Wenzhe's Tears

During an emotional speech commemorating the victims of the  228 Incident , the current mayor of Taipei, Ke Wenzhe ( Ko Wen-je ), could not hold back his tears as he recounted the suffering that his own family had to bear during the brutal and indiscriminate repression of real or presumed dissent on the part of Guomindang one-party state. Following the revolt of February 28, 1947, Ke’s grandfather, Ke Shiyuan, was arrested, not because he had been personally involved in the uprising, but solely because he was an intellectual. After he was severely beaten by the Guomindang police he became ill and died a few years later. Thousands of people were killed, imprisoned or tortured during the White Terror that followed the 228 Incident. To a certain extent, February 28 1947 was for Taiwan what June 4 1989 was for the PRC. The state revealed its savage and cruel nature, reasserted its authority by force, and ushered in an era of silence, fear and suspicion, during which the memory and t