A branch of McDonald’s opened in a historic Chinese building once inhabited by a former leader of Taiwan is serving up muffins and coffee amid a storm of controversy, according to state media.
The “McCafe” opened last week in Hangzhou city near the famed West Lake tourist spot in the former home of late Taiwanese President Chiang Ching-kuo, the China Daily newspaper reported.
He was the son of Kuomintang chief Chiang Kai-shek, whose party governed China before losing a civil war to the Communists and fleeing to Taiwan in 1949.
An official at the government agency which rented out the property to McDonald’s said the Chiang family only lived in the house briefly in 1948.
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“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,” Liu Haisheng of the Zhejiang Provincial Government Offices Administration told the newspaper.
Rong Yuzhong, secretary-general of the Hangzhou Ancient Capital Culture Research Association, was quoted as saying that it is “inappropriate” to commercialize such properties.
“The old houses around West Lake are inseparable parts of the lake ... Protection should always come first,” he said, adding the government “should preserve them properly and open them to the public to visit as museums.”
Hangzhou’s West Lake has been celebrated in China for centuries in landscape paintings and poems.
A branch of Starbucks opened in an annex of the same house two months ago, China Daily said, apparently with little controversy.
Starbucks previously drew ire over an outlet in Beijing’s imperial Forbidden City which was forced out in 2007 after a campaign by a celebrity television anchor Rui Chenggang, who is now reportedly under detention for corruption.