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Potted Taiwan cypress replaces Sun Yat-sen

March 15, 2007 at 3:36 PM

TAIPEI, Taiwan, March 15 (UPI) -- A statue of Sun Yat-sen, the first president of Taiwan, has been replaced with a potted tree in the Taipei presidential offices.

In what could be seen as a gesture of independence from China, the tree is a Taiwan cypress, The Taipei Times reported.

Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian has been removing names honoring Chiang Kai-shek, who retreated to Taiwan after the Maoist victory in China in 1949. Sun and Chiang were founders of the Kuomintang, which is now in opposition in Taiwan.

Both the Beijing government and the KMT say Taiwan should be part of China, although they disagree about who should be running the country. Taiwan is effectively independent, although few other countries recognize it and it is denied a seat in the United Nations.

While Chen has not declared independence, he has taken a number of steps that emphasize Taiwan's autonomy. Taiwan has a long colonial history, belonging at various times to The Netherlands, Spain, Japan and China.

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