A medal said to have been presented to late Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek and to have been buried with him is set to go on sale in Hong Kong - even though the government in Taipei has said "it would be impossible for the medal to appear for auction outside Taiwan".
Taiwan's Ministry of National Defences issued its second statement in a week last night to state that the medal was buried with the late Republic of China president in his mausoleum.
But British auction house Spinks China insists it has proof that the medal is genuine.
Taiwan issued its second statement after Spinks held a press conference about the Order of Blue Sky and White Sun with Grand Cordon, which it expects to fetch at least HK$3 million.
"It is ridiculous to say the medal is not genuine, as we have all kind of documents and experts to prove it," Spinks China vice chairman Anna Lee said.
Collector and scholar Chuk Hong-ming, who wrote a book about the medal, said the one held by Spinks was indeed worn by Chiang.
"I don't think the Ministry of National Defence knows which one is the medal that Chiang wore. I believe that they didn't do their homework," Chuk said at the press conference. "There are four places that all say they have the real one."
While it is true that a Blue Sky and White Sun medal accompanied the general's burial, that medal did not have the "Special One" insignia imprinted on it.
Taiwan's defence ministry, however, said the medal is in Chiang's mausoleum in the northern county of Taoyuan.
"According to documents and photos compiled by the Presidential Office, the late president Chiang wore three medals when he was entombed in Taihsi in 1975, and the Order of Blue Sky and White Sun with Grand Cordon was one of them," said military spokesman Luo Shou-he.
But according to Chuk, that medal was a ceremonial gift to Chiang's family at the time of his death. While the medal itself was legitimate, it bore a sequential serial number, so it was not the one that Chiang himself wore.
Chuk also presented a photocopy of a handwritten letter penned by one of Chiang's sons, which said that the badge worn by his father was priceless.
Both he and Lee refused to discuss the seller.Topics: Republic of China Kuomintang Chiang Kai-Shek