McDonald’s opened a 100-seat McCafe in the lower level of the historic villa in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou.
The fast food outlet made national and Taiwanese headlines following its opening on November 15. It is a controversial topic for the public because of the history of the building. The move has been criticized by Chiang Ching-Kuo’s grandson, Taiwanese businessman Demos Chiang, saying:
“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.
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. Chiang Ching-Kuo, later leader of Taiwan in 1978, 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.
While the building’s exterior remains unchanged, inside the McCafe is decorated with posters about Chiang’s life, as required by the local Cultural Relics Bureau. For Mcdonald’s stakeholders, it is a way to pay respect to the old building, while complying with regulations on using historic properties in Hangzhou- a popular tourist destination that has been home to hundreds of famous Chinese over the centuries.
Wang, of the Cultural Relics Bureau, says opening the McCafe is an efficient use of a building that until now had mostly been closed to the public. Officials said the decision to lease it to McDonald’s was because they needed to cover maintenance costs.
The Chinese community has considered this as a classic example of Western cultures invading China and business owners desecrating old villas.