Paper Money

Chiang Kai-shek to be removed from Taiwanese currency

Premier Su Tseng-chang, third left, receives a mock-up of the Transitional Justice Commission’s final report from the commission’s acting minister, Yeh Hung-ling, third right, at a ceremony in Taipei on Friday.

Images from Taipei Times.

Chiang Kai-shek, long a focal point of the controversy between China and Taiwan, should be removed from Taiwanese bank notes and coins, according to a council.

This was the determination of a commission’s ministry-level report it presented to Premier Su Tseng-chang on May 27.

Chiang was a military leader in the early 20th century and president of the Republic of China from 1928 to 1949 when the communist revolution led by Mao Zedong forced him and his supporters to flee to Taiwan. There they established a competing Nationalist Chinese government. This entity is not recognized as representing mainland China, and the mainland government still claims sovereignty over the island. Chiang was long considered a stalwart ally of the United States, not necessarily as a hero of democracy, but as a staunch foe of communism.

The commission was created in 2019. Its report said that said the purpose of paper currency design is to promote symbols and values that unify the nation and represent it to the outside world. According to the report, the prominence of Chiang and Sun Yat-sen on money is at odds with democratic norms because it overemphasizes political leadership and glorifies “strongmen.” It added that Chiang’s “dictatorial” reign was responsible for “undermining the democratic constitutional order, utilizing state violence and human rights infringements.” It continued, “Therefore, putting Chiang on coins and banknotes implies that an authoritarian is the nation’s unifying symbol and that his regime represents its values.”

Chiang is depicted on the $1 and $5 coins, and the $200 bank note.

The report was made because the government has a legal obligation to remove authoritarian symbols under the Act on Promoting Transitional Justice. This supersedes the central bank’s concerns about costs. It suggested that currency bearing Chiang’s image should be taken out of circulation and replaced with new designs that will be chosen via a process that includes civic participation. It said the new designs should reflect the nation’s cultural distinctiveness, natural landscape and the progressive values of cultural diversity, gender equality and environmentalism. It should also facilitate societal dialogue and the formation of national identity.

The report also called for the relocation of statues that “worship” authoritarians such as Chiang.

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