By Horace Lu
Chongqing authorities have spoken up after pictures circulating online which appeared to show the former residence of Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek being demolished sparked controversy and debate.
The building, which was built in 1935 and served for a time as Chiang’s residence and command centre when Chongqing became the war-time capital after the fall of Nanking in the Second World War, was not being destroyed, but under “protective demolition”, they said.
This was because the building was in “such a dilapidated state it is beyond repair,” they added.
Said Xu Xiaoyu, a heritage protection official in Yuzhong District where the compound is located. “We are dismantling it for the purpose of its preservation.”
A visit by a reporter from Xinhua News Agency found that all that was left of the building now was a bare brick-and-wood structure, with the roof having been completely dismantled.
This was just the first stage of the “protective demolition,” said Xu. The rest of the building would be carefully dismantled brick by brick before rebuilding begins this October.
The building will be an “exact replica” built on the same location, and all usable original building materials, windows, stairs and handrails would be carefully packed and re-used during the re-construction process, he added.
After the reconstruction of the 77-year-old compound is completed in October 2013, it will become a wartime history museum, and be open to the public free of charge.