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There was a time when the beneficent smile of a dictator greeted you everywhere in Taiwan.

It’s a far rarer sight now as more and more of those likenesses, which once exceeded 40,000, are removed.

Some 200-odd statues have been stashed away in a riverside park south of the capital Taipei. Here, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek is standing, sitting, in marshal’s uniform, in scholars’ robes, astride a stallion, surrounded by adoring children, and in his dotage leaning on a walking stick.

A democratic Taiwan no longer seems to have room for its erstwhile ruler.

The island’s burgeoning identity is once again being tested as Taiwan votes in a new government on Saturday. And with each election, China is more troubled by the assertion of a Taiwanese identity – one that thwarts the chances of what it calls “peaceful reunification” with the mainland.

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