McDonald’s China has sparked controversy after the opening of a outlet in the home of former Taiwanese leader Chiang Ching-kuo in Hangzhou.
Conservationists had called for the villa, a cultural heritage site, to be converted into a museum.
However, officials said the decision to lease the site to McDonald’s was made because they needed to cover maintenance costs.
Chiang Ching-kuo’s grandson and others have voiced their concern over the commercialization of the site.
McDonald’s opened the 100-seat McCafe in the lower storey of the villa, situated by Hangzhou’s West Lake tourist attraction, over the weekend.
The upper storey, also leased out by officials, houses a Starbucks outlet which opened a month earlier.
Chiang Ching-Kuo is the son of revolutionary figure and Taiwanese leader Chiang Kai-shek, who fled to the island in 1949 after the Chinese Civil War.
He later become the leader of Taiwan in 1978.
Chiang Ching-kuo and his family stayed in the villa from October to November, 1948, and it was designated a cultural heritage site by Hangzhou officials in 2003.
The move has been criticized by Chiang Ching-kuo’s grandson, Taiwanese businessman Demos Chiang, on microblogging platform Weibo.
“I don’t understand, opening a McDonald’s in the villa… how exactly does that adhere to regulations on correct usage of cultural heritage sites?” he said in a post.
In 2000, Beijing saw a similar controversy when a Starbucks outlet opened in the Forbidden City.
It shut in 2007 after officials decided to merge and cut down the number of shops in the palace, following multiple protests over the years about the commercialization of the site.
According to Beijing Youth Daily, the decision to commercially lease out the villa was met with strong resistance, with more than 90% attendees at a public consultation in January voting against it.
Conservationists suggested that the villa be turned into a historical museum promoting China-Taiwan ties.
One of them, Zhejiang University academic Zhou Fuduo, noted that the villa was a symbol of China and Taiwan’s shared history.
“We said that the villa’s sociocultural value outstrips its commercial value, but in the end our proposal was ignored,” he told the paper.
However, officials pointed out that the local government needed money to recoup the cost of maintaining the building throughout the years.
A spokesman for the Zhejiang local government, which oversees Hangzhou city, told the newspaper: “Chiang Ching-kuo stayed in this home too briefly and what is left is just the main structure, the interiors look nothing like they used to when the Chiang family was here… there is not much point in turning it into a museum.”
At least 39 people, including 29 police officers, have been hurt and dozens of vehicles damaged in a protest against a planned waste incinerator in Hangzhou city, Chinese state media report.
The violence broke out on Saturday in Yuhang district of Hangzhou city, in the eastern province of Zhejiang.
Local authorities say the project will not go ahead without public support.
At least 39 people, including 29 police officers, have been hurt and dozens of vehicles damaged in a protest against a planned waste incinerator in Hangzhou city (photo Reuters)
Tens of thousands of protests are held in China every year, mostly against pollution, corruption and land grabs.
Last month, state media reported that 18 people were detained after massive demonstrations against plans for a chemical plant in Maoming, in the southern province of Guangdong.
China’s citizens are increasingly conscious of the health impact of environmental pollution, with many large cities smothered in smog – a by-product of the country’s rapid industrialization and economic growth.
The state-run Xinhua news agency reports that the site for the planned waste incinerator in Yuhang was made public in April.
At the protests on Saturday, two police cars were set alight and dozens of vehicles overturned.
At least two people – a policeman and a protester – were reported to have been seriously injured.
A statement on the local government’s website, published late on Saturday, said that there would be no further work on the incinerator until the public had been consulted over the scheme.
Similar protests in other parts of China have prompted the authorities to change their plans.
Viewing the tidal bore has become an annual tradition for people living by the mouth of the Qiantang River and a popular attraction for visitors as well.
Hundreds of people came at the banks of the Qiantang River in Haining, in east China’s Zhejiang province to see what is considered to be one of Mother Nature’s more unusual spectacles.
Viewing the tidal bore has become an annual tradition for people living by the mouth of the Qiantang River and a popular attraction for visitors as well
However, the spectators unwittingly became part of the show when a huge tidal bore burst through a dam and spilled over the riverbank, sweeping scores of tourists off their feet.
The next moment people were running to save their lives as the huge wave came crashing towards them, engulfing the crowd.
There were no fatalities reported, but more than 20 people were injured after the wave swept through the throng, and some had to receive medical attention.
The astonishing natural phenomenon, which is an abrupt uprising of river water, happens when the moon’s gravity influence tides from the sea, moving them upstream, resulting in the mesmerizing bore.
More than 20 people were injured after the wave swept through the throng
Every year hundreds of people come in Haining to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival of Qiantang River Tidal Bore Watching by eating moon cake and watching the tide
Yanguan Town in Haining, Hangzhou has been regarded as the best place to watch. The annual International Qiantang River Tidal Bore Watching Festival is held here on 18th day of the eighth lunar month.
Authorities advise public to watch the tide in the designated areas, as the tide height may changes quickly and swept the visitors away without notice. Each year, few people die from tide watching, since most of them go beyond the designated tide watching areas.
Bores only occur in a few locations throughout the world, usually in areas with a large tidal range and where incoming tides are funneled into a shallow, narrowing lake or river.
China’s Qiantang River boasts the largest bore, 8.93 metres (about 30 feet) high and travelling up to 25mph. When the tide approaches, its mighty surging tidal waves look like ten thousand horses galloping ahead. Its earthshaking sound rumbles like muffled thunder. Its force seems to stem from the momentum of an avalanche.