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Chiang Ching-kuo

Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國 in pinyin: Jiǎng Jīngguˇ) (March 18, 1910 - January 13, 1988) was the President of the Republic of China on Taiwan from 1978 until his death in 1988. Under his tenure, the government of the Republic of China, although still authoritarian, became much more open and tolerant of political dissent.

Table of contents
1 Early life
2 Political career
3 Presidency
4 Death and legacy
5 See also
6 External Links

Early life

The only son of both Chiang Kai-shek and his first wife Mao Fumei, Chiang Ching-kuo was born in Fenghua, Chekiang and had the nickname of Jinfeng (建豐). He had an adopted brother, Chiang Wei-kuo.

In 1925 he went to Moscow to study communism, which he embraced avidly, and became classmates with Deng Xiaoping. After his father took anti-Communist approaches within the Nationalist party (Kuomintang), the Soviet government sent Chiang to virtual exile in return and later to work in a steel factory in Siberia where he met and in March 1935, married Fenna Epatcheva Vahaleva, a native Russian later became known as Chiang Fang-liang (蔣方良). December of that year, a son, Hsiao-wen (孝文) was born. A daughter, Xiao-chang (孝章), was born the next year.

The Chiangs were finally allowed to return to China by Stalin in April 1937 after living in Russia for 12 years. A tutor was hired to teach Chiang Fang-liang Chinese. Chiang Fang-liang later moved to Taiwan, where she received little publicity and hence much mystery, and rarely travelled abroad. The Chiangs later had two more sons: Hsiao-wu (孝武) and Hsiao-yung (孝勇).

Out of his affair with Chang Ya-juo (章亞若), Chiang also had two twin sons: Chang Hsiao-tzu (孝慈 Xiaoci) and Chang Hsiao-yen.

Political career

In 1949 he followed his father to Taiwan after the Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War and became the director of secret police (or "blue shirts") in 1950 and served until 1965. One of the highest profile victims of Chiang's blue shirts was General Sun Li-Jen, a VMI trained military man who fought along side American General Joseph Stilwell. Sun's popularity and loyalty with his troops made him a rival to Chiang Kai-shek and was placed in house arrest until the end of martial law. Chiang Ching-kuo's activities as director of the secret police have been widely criticized as heralding an era of human rights abuses and disappearances of both incriminating documents and people.

From 1955-1960 he worked on building a cross-island highway. He was Defense Minister from 1965 until 1969 when he became vice-premier. In 1972 he was appointed Premier of the Republic of China, which he served until 1978.

Presidency

His father died in April 1975, and he succeeded him to power, becoming president after Yen Chia-kan's term ended in 1978. He was reelected by the National Assembly to another term in 1984. At that time, the National Assembly consisted mostly of "thousand year" legislators who had been elected before the fall of the Mainland.

In 1987 Chiang ended martial law and allowed family visits to the Mainland China. His administration saw a gradual loosening of political controls, with opposition political parties, namely the Democratic Progressive Party, being unofficially permitted and press restrictions laxed. Chiang launched the "Fourteen Major Construction Projects" and "Ten Major Construction Projects and the Twelve New Development Projects" contributing to the so-called "Taiwan miracle." Many of the projects associated with Chiang were extensions of Japanese infrastructure projects from the 1930's. Among his accomplishments were accelerating the process of modernization to give Taiwan a 13% growth rate, $4600 per capita income, and the world's second largest exchange reserves.

Death and legacy

Chiang died of heart failure and hemorrhage in Taipei at the age of 78.

In contrast to his father Chiang Kai-shek, Chiang Ching-kuo built himself a folksy reputation and remains a generally popular figure among the Taiwanese electorate, particularly those who support Chinese reunification. His memory and image is frequently invoked by the Kuomintang, which is unable to base their electoral campaign on Chiang's successor as President and KMT Chairman Lee Teng-hui because of Lee's stand in support of Taiwan independence. Especially after the 2000 ROC President Election, the pan-blue coalition has elevated Chiang's tatus to the point which some critics see as excessive.

Among supporters of Taiwan independence, opinions toward Chiang Ching-kuo are more neutral, but generally not hostile. While supporters of Taiwan independence do give Chiang Ching-kuo some credit for relaxing authoritarian rule, they point out that Taiwan particular in the early years of his rule was still quite authoritarian and tend to emphasize the democraticization of Taiwan under Chiang Ching-kuo as a result of general social forces rather than due to his personal actions. In particular, supporters of Taiwan independence have argued that Chiang's support of democratization was a direct result of the fall of Ferdinand Marcos.

Under President Chen Shui-bian, pictures of Chiang Ching-kuo and his father have gradually disappeared from public buildings.

All of his legitimate children studied abroad and two of his children married in the United States. Only two children remain living: John Chang is a prominent KMT politician and Chiang Hsiao-chang and her children and grandchildren reside in the U.S.

See also

External Links

Preceded by:
Yen Chia-kan
President of the Republic of China Succeeded by:
Lee Teng-hui