Taiwan independence group topples Sun Yat-sen statue

February 25, 2014 - 12:00:00 am
TAIPEI:  A radical Taiwanese independence group said Sunday it had pulled down a statue of republican China’s founding father Sun Yat-sen, who ended centuries of imperial rule. The incident, which was condemned by members of the ruling nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) party, illustrates how hostility towards Beijing still runs deep within some Taiwanese circles, despite years of improving ties between the two sides. 

The bronze statue had stood for over half a century at a park in the southern city of Tainan, until it was pulled down on Saturday. Dozens of independence activists launched the attack, using a rope to topple the 600kg statue which was splashed with red paint and covered in protest signs reading: “ROC out, KMT down.”

The Republic of China (ROC) was founded by Sun on the Chinese mainland in 1911. It remains the official title of Taiwan, as opposed to the communist-ruled People’s Republic of China.

Sun died in 1925. Under Chiang Kai-shek, KMT nationalist forces later fled to Taiwan in 1949 at the end of a civil war with Mao Zedong’s communists.

The park has long been a flashpoint between supporters of the KMT, which continues to insist that the ROC is the one true China, and pro-independence groups who want Taiwan to formally sever from the mainland. 

“This action is to show our support for the victims of the February 28 Incident,” said Tsai Ting-kui, head of the radical Alliance for a Referendum to Safeguard Taiwan.

Tsai was referring to 1947 riots that erupted across Taiwan after a KMT inspector beat a female trader in Taipei for selling untaxed cigarettes. 

Thousands were killed on that February 28, an incident that remained taboo for decades under Chiang Kai-shek’s post-war rule in Taiwan. He died in 1975 after governing the island with an iron fist, and February 28 was later made an official holiday.

Last year the statue of Sun survived an attempt by the Tainan city government to remove it when dozens of KMT supporters guarded it around the clock for weeks.