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Row over Chiang villa

A PLAN to raise money for the maintenance of the former residence of Chiang Kai-shek, late Kuomintang leader, by leasing it out to a private club has sparked controversy among scholars in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, who worry that the historic site may become an exclusive entertainment venue for the rich.

Jinling Holdings Co, manager of the Villa in the hilly suburb of the provincial capital, proposed the leasing plan on May 27, yesterday's Oriental Morning Post reported.

The villa, which was Chiang and his wife Soong May-ling's home from 1928 to 1949, was listed as a national historic heritage site in 2001.

The Jinling hotel group said it was difficult to finance the 200,000-yuan (US$29,255) annual costs to maintain the villa with income from admission tickets.

To raise money, it had to stop opening it to the public and lease it to a private club, said group official Lu Dan.

Architecture professor Liu Xianjue with Nanjing-based Southeast University opposed the plan, which he described as illegal. He said all experts invited to a meeting were angry at the proposal.

He suggested Jinling return management of the villa to Zhongshan Mountain National Park, where it is located.

Professor Gu Jiang with Nanjing University's school of economics said leasing the villa was wrong because it was using a public resource to entertain wealthy individuals.


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