TAIPEI, July 17 -- Members of Taiwan's ruling party expressed opposition Wednesday to a proposal to move the remains of Chiang Kai- shek and his son to mainland China. Several leading members of the Kuomintang said it was not the right time to plan a China burial for the Chiangs, both former presidents of Taiwan. The proposal was initiated by Chiang Kai-shek's son Wego Chiang, a retired general. 'When President Chiang Ching-kuo was alive, he expressed his wish to be buried in Nanking only after the successful reunification of China,' former Premier Li Huan said after a meeting of the Kuomintang's central standing committee. One of the few surviving ruling party members with a blood connection to the Chiangs, Chaing Kai-shek's illegitimate son John Chang, now serves as foreign minister. 'Most people in Taiwan have a deep emotional connection to the two former presidents, and I don't agree with the proposal to move them to China at this time,' John Chang said. Chiang Kai-shek was survived by his wife Soong Mai-ling, 96, who lives in the United States. 'As far as I know, Madam Chiang Kai-shek does not know about the proposal to move the remains to China,' Chiang Yen-shih said. Chiang Yen-shih, who is not related to the two former presidents, was appointed to lead an ad hoc committee to review the proposal. Controlled by China since the 17th century, Taiwan came under Japanese rule from 1895 until the end of World War II in 1945.
Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomitang, or Nationalist Party, driven from mainland China by the communist forces of Mao Tse-tung, took refuge on the island in 1949 and established a republic. The Kuomitang's goal of returning to the mainland suffered a major setback when U.S.-China relations were restored Jan. 1, 1979, after a break of 30 years. The Kuomitang claims to be the legitimate ruler of all China while Beijing maintains Taiwan is a province of China. Chiang Kai-shek led the Nationalist government from its mainland days until his death in 1975. His son, Chiang Ching-kuo, was elected president in 1978. On July 14, 1987, he decreed an end of 39 years of martial law. Taiwan and China have been split since 1949 and despite healthy bilateral trade relations worsened after Taiwan's President Lee Teng-hui visited the United States more than a year ago.