The residence of Chang Hsueh-liang (張學良), a key figure in the modern history of China, was opened to the public yesterday in the hope that the site in Wufeng Township (五峰), Hsinchu County, will attract tourists, particularly from China.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) cut ribbons at a ceremony unveiling bronze statues of Chang and his wife, Chao I-ti (趙一荻).
Also present were members of Chang’s family and Guo Junsheng (郭俊勝), the curator of a museum in Shenyang in China’s Liaoning Province that is dedicated to Chang.
Chang was placed under house arrest in Wufeng, a mountainous township mostly home to Aborigines, and held until 1990 for instigating the Xian Incident on Dec. 12, 1936.
On that day, Chang kidnapped dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and held him hostage until he agreed to form a united front with the Chinese Communist Party against the Japanese.
Chiang had considered the Communists to be a greater danger to his government than the Japanese. His overall strategy, therefore, was to annihilate the Communists first.
Growing nationalist anger against Japan, however, made this position unpopular, leading to Chang’s radical action.
Chang was placed under house arrest shortly after the incident.
‘QUIET AND SILENT’
During his address, Ma described Chang as a “quiet and silent” historical figure, who even after being freed never publicly complained of being mistreated.
The emotions of the time had faded since the deaths of both players, Ma said, adding that his own efforts to foster reconciliation between Taiwan and China also include seeking forgiveness.
“I hope this historical site will attract tourists,” he said.