Planet China

McMansion moment

Ronald McDonald is not normally associated with cross-Strait politics, but McDonald’s has stirred controversy with its latest outlet in Hangzhou. Last week the fast food chain opened a 100-seat McCafe in the lower storey of a villa that Chiang Kai-shek’s son Chiang Ching-kuo once stayed in. Conservationists claim the villa – by the famed West Lake – is a cultural heritage site and should be converted into a museum. Demos Chiang, grandson of the Generalissimo (who fled to Taiwan in 1949 having lost the civil war to Mao’s Communists), wrote on weibo: “I don’t understand, opening a McDonald’s in the villa. How exactly does that adhere to regulations on the use of cultural heritage sites?” Zhejiang University academic Zhou Fuduo agreed, telling the BBC that the villa was a symbol of China and Taiwan’s shared history. But a spokesman for the local government countered that Chiang only lived there for a month in 1948. Besides, the authorities needed money to recoup the cost of maintaining the building throughout the years. The official added: “The interiors look nothing like they used to when the Chiang family was here – there is not much point turning it into a museum.”

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