McDonalds and Cultural Heritage
A new McDonald’s location has opened up at a controversial location in China: inside a former Taiwanese president’s villa. The home belonged to President Chiang Ching-kuo and his family, but they only lived there for about a month before fleeing to Taiwan. They left very few possessions behind and multiple families rented the house later on. Although the house was declared a cultural heritage site in 2003, part of the home was already converted into a Starbucks a few weeks ago.
Chiang’s grandson, Demos Chiang, also resided in the villa for a short period of time and is upset by the recent happenings at his family’s former home. “I don’t understand, opening a McDonald’s in the villa … how exactly does that adhere to regulations on correct usage of cultural heritage sites?”, Demos recently asked. Rong Yuzhong, secretary general of the Hangzhou Ancient Capital Culture Research Association, mirrors this sentiment, calling the commercialization “inappropriate.” He also added that the government should preserve such properties properly and open them to the public to visit as museums.
Authorities in the area have defended their actions, stating that maintaining the building as a cultural site was too expensive. Supporters of the fast food restoration are also quick to point out that the home only served the Chiang family for a matter of months. Liu Haisheng of the Zhejiang Provincial Government Offices Administration shares that “they lived in the house for only one month and almost nothing about them was left because many people moved in and out after them, so it is meaningless to turn it into an exhibition.”
One Huffington Post commenter asks, “Only lived there a month and they think it deserves protection? Anyone tracked all the brief places US presidents lived during their lifetimes and what they are now?”
Is this villa important enough to save? Is there enough history attached to the home to create and fund a museum?