Students at a Taipei university think it is time Taiwan stops honoring an authoritarian dictator.
The News Lens
By: David Prentice
Founded in Nanjing, China, in 1927, National Chengchi University has long been associated with the
Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, KMT). The university was established in part to train KMT officials in the art of diplomacy, and international relations. The university relocated to its current location in Muzha, Taipei, in 1954 to meet the needs of Taiwan’s newly formed civil service and the growing demands of higher education in post-war Taiwan. The school’s history and affiliation to the KMT make it synonymous with Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) – Taiwan’s former President who was president of the institution from its establishment in 1927 until 1947. More than 40 years after his death, his legacy in the institution lives on, but for how long?
Two statues of the former dictator rise high over students at two prominent locations in the university’s beautiful, sprawling campus. At the back entrance, near the student dormitories lies an imposing and towering statue of the Generalissimo in his army robes atop his favorite horse. The university’s main library – named the Chiang Kai Shek Library in Chinese – is also home to another statue of the former leader, this time in a seated position, adopting a more scholarly approach seemingly watching over students as they drift past into the library with barely a glance in his direction.
A recent movement by campus protesters, along with the defacing of the statues on an almost annual basis has led campus administrators and management to reconsider the very presence of the statues on campus. A committee consisting of 120 students (10%), administrative staff (5%), and faculty members (85%) has been formed to have the final say on the fate of the statues and is expected to vote in favor of removing them from campus. [FULL STORY]