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    Jan 29, 2015

    McD's wants to set up shop in historic China villa


    IT IS likely that Ronald McDonald, the clown mascot of the McDonald's restaurant chain, will find a home in a West Lake villa in East China which once belonged to late Taiwan leader Chiang Ching-kuo.

    According to an announcement published by the local government of Hangzhou, in Zhejiang province, the city has received an application from McDonald's to turn the property into a restaurant. The government began soliciting public comments on the project on Monday, Qianjiang Evening News reported.

    The restaurant will be a McCafe coffee house, which offers mainly coffee and desserts instead of hamburgers and fried chicken, according to the announcement.

    In a general plan issued by the local government on the West Lake Scenic Area last year, no historic buildings within the area should be used as restaurants.

    Built in 1931, the lakeside villa used to be the home of Chiang (1910-1988) after the victory of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945). The trees in the villa are said to have been planted by the man himself.

    "The house has never been open to tourists," said a resident who works nearby.

    The tenant of the building used it as a temporary home and gathering place for friends before letting it go to McDonald's.

    Both supporters and opponents of the plan voiced their comments after the announcement was released. Some residents prefer the space to be reserved for history and culture; others believe historic relics should be utilised and open to the public.

    Zhong Xiangping, an expert in historic buildings in Hangzhou, said it is acceptable to turn the building into a cafe. Zhong noted that there would not be many visitors if the house was turned into a museum, which would become a waste of public funds and social resources.

    However, the expert suggested that the cafe should be operated without damaging the historic building.

    McDonald's can also try to make the most of the space by presenting information and old photos about the building's famous former owner, Zhong said.