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Chiang's Estate Open to Public in Taiwan

August 25, 1996|ASSOCIATED PRESS

Showcasing its authoritarian past and more democratic present, Taiwan this month opened the once-tightly guarded estate of Gen. Chiang Kai-shek to the public for the first time. Tourists in Taipei strolled through the 10 acres of Chinese- and Western-style gardens, wooden houses and tea pavilions where the Nationalist leader lived for decades with his wife, Madame Chiang.

Visitors lounged on the grass under tall palm trees and toured the guest house where Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon stayed. They also saw the chapel where the Chiangs attended Methodist services, a key social event for the Nationalist elite.

The Chiang mansion itself remains closed and guarded out of respect for Madame Chiang, 98, who lives in New York and last visited Taiwan in 1995.

Her husband fled the Chinese mainland after losing a civil war to the Communist Party in 1949. He ruled Taiwan with an iron hand until his death in 1975, when his son, Chiang Ching-kuo, took over. Taiwan started moving toward democracy after the younger Chiang's death in 1988, holding its first presidential election in March.

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