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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 January 2008, 18:25 GMT
Taiwan recycles Chiang landmark
Kites adorn the statue of Chiang Kai-shek in the re-opened National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall in Taipei

Taiwan has reopened a giant monument in the capital Taipei to late President Chiang Kai-shek, as a memorial to human rights abuses under his rule.

President Chen Shui-bian said the re-dedicated monument symbolised "opening the door to democracy".

While a 10m-high (33ft) bronze statue of Chiang remains in place its guard of honour has been removed.

Records of victims and milestones on the road to democracy now ring the statue, along with about 300 kites.

"We have turned a hall that was originally a temple at which to worship an authoritarian dictator into a place for Taiwan people to reflect, study and explore the freedoms of democracy and human rights," Mr Chen told a crowd of invited guests.

Time of change

Chiang Kai-shek, who once governed all of China, fled with his Nationalist troops to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the civil war to the Communists.

The newly opened National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall in Taipei
The monument was opened in 1980, five years after Chiang's death
Many native Taiwanese resented this influx of mainlanders, and suffered human rights abuses during subsequent decades.

Mr Chen has sought to undo this legacy, and the re-dedication of the hall is the latest in a series of symbolic changes, the BBC's Chris Xia reports.

Most controversial is a plan to hold a referendum on joining the United Nations as the independent country of Taiwan.

This has provoked fury in Beijing, which still regards the island as a renegade province.



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