The bodies of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and his son and successor, former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), which lie embalmed in temporary mausoleums in Taoyuan County, will finally be buried after Chiang's descendants asked the government to bury the bodies of the two presidents in a military cemetery in northern Taiwan.
Generalissimo Chiang fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the Civil War against the Chinese Community Party. Chiang died in 1975. The burial of Chiang and his son in Taiwan mark the Chiang family's recognition that the "Republic of China" military could never retake China.
The embalmed bodies of Chiang and his son were put in the temporary mausoleums in Tzuhu (
Presidential Office Spokesman Chen Wen-tzong (
Thirteen generals, admirals and former president Yen Chia-kan (嚴家淦) are also buried in the cemetery. Their spouses are also allowed to be buried with them on application. The ministry holds regular ceremonies hosted by high-ranking military personnel in memory of these patriots in spring and fall every year.
The cemetery's 9,417 grave plots are almost fully occupied. When capacity is reached, it will only accept applications for the storage of urns.
The request was made by Chiang Ching-kuo's widow, Faina Chiang Fang-liang (
President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has instructed the Ministry of National Defense (MND) to undertake the matter and has advised it "to respect the will of the family and to allow the burial to be conducted according to the State Funeral Law [國葬法], in order to show respect [for the late presidents]," the presidential spokesman quoted Chen as saying yesterday.
Chen Wen-tzong yesterday said that when both Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo died, in 1975 and 1988 respectively, the Presidential Office issued state funeral orders for burying them according to the funeral law; therefore, the Presidential Office will adhere to the existing regulations for conducting the state funerals.
The law says that citizens who have made a great contribution to the country are entitled to have applications made for their state funeral. Military personnel or high-ranking government officials may also have applications made to be buried in the cemetery.
"Both Chiangs were presidents and heads of the military so they are definitely qualified for a state funeral and to be buried in the cemetery," the spokesman said.
Chen stressed that the state funerals for the two late presidents will be conducted in the most respectful and honorable manner. The state funeral service is tentatively scheduled for next year.
The MND confirmed that it was moving ahead with the burial plans.
"A state funeral will be held sometime between March and April next year. We are currently working on the details," a ministry spokesman said.
The spokesman said that the "details" included the ceremony and the routes along which the caskets would travel.
"We will also ask for Taipei City Government's help, since most of the route will be in the city," the spokesman said.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday said the decision by the Chiang family to let the late presidents rest permanently in Taiwan, saying it demonstrates their identity with Taiwan.
"We will let history judge the deeds of the two Chiangs. But we welcome the fact that the Chiang family now sees Taiwan as their eternal and only home. It is quite meaningful, as it shows their identity with Taiwan," director of the DPP's Information and Culture Department Cheng Wen-tsan (
Cheng played down speculation that the decision of the Chiang family to bury the late presidents was intended to cash in on the "Taiwanese identity" issue in order to drum up support for the KMT's year-end legislative elections, saying there was no need for political machinations regarding this issue.
The only Chiang descendant now active in national politics is John Chang (
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