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Mon, Jul 17, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Chiang Kai-shek's official residence opens its doors

The generalissimo has been dead for 25 years, and while people have been able to visit the grounds of his Shihlin house since 1996, the buildings themselves are only now being opened up

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chen added that Chiang particularly liked Cadillacs and changed vehicles every four years. It was later switched to every two years, Chen said, after a 1969 car accident in Yangmingshan. During their limited leisure time, Chen said, Chiang liked to engage in meditation, taiqi, walking, and hiking. Playing bridge and Chinese chess were Madam Chiang's favorite relaxation activities.

However, their long-time passion was the movies, he said.

"Films were shown in the small living room. While Master Chiang had a penchant for epics and war movies, Madam Chiang preferred foreign films such as romances and westerns," he said. "Religious films were always welcome, but from 1967 on, Master Chiang seldom watched movies in order to protect his eyesight."

While Madam Chiang is now 102 years old, the house is 50 years old and Generalissimo Chiang, who once ruled all of China before his humiliating retreat to Taiwan and long years of exile, has been dead for nearly a quarter of a century.

With the changes both in China and in Taiwan in recent years, their places in the history books are far from secure, remaining highly controversial. While the opening of the Shihlin residence might do little to end the controversy, it provides a fascinating insight onto the human side of two leading figures in 20th-century Chinese history.

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