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Taiwan axes symbols of authoritarian past in push to rebrand

Towering statue of Chiang Kai-shek slated to be pulled down in Taipei

A military honor guard parade at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei on March 16, 2016. Taiwanese authorities are considering removing the statue of the island's first president as part of a plan to to take down symbols its authoritarian past.    © Reuters

TAIPEI -- Taiwan is undertaking a sweeping drive to remove all symbols of its authoritarian past in a bid to create a new global brand for the island.

The latest move is a plan to pull down a towering bronze statue of Chiang Kai-shek -- the generalissimo who ruled the Republic of China (Taiwan's formal name) with an iron fist from 1949 to his death in 1975 -- from an iconic central Taipei memorial hall dedicated to the former dictator. The step comes on the recommendation of the Transitional Justice Commission, which addresses crimes committed during the era of martial law, or "White Terror."

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