Born Faina Epatcheva Vahaleva in Sverdlovsk (now Ekaterinburg, Russia), she was orphaned at a young age and raised by her older sister Anna. An outspoken member of the Communist Youth League, Vahaleva, at the age of 16, met Chiang Ching-kuo (as he was known as "Nicolai") at the Ural Heavy Machinery Plant and they married two years later on March 15, 1935. Chiang had been exiled to work in Siberia after his father, Chiang Kai-shek, had purged the leftists from the Kuomintang. The couple's first child, a son named Hsiao-wen (孝文), was born on December 1935. The couple had two more sons, Hsiao-wu (孝武) and Hsiao-yung (孝勇), and a daughter, Hsiao-chang (孝章).
In December 1936, Stalin finally granted Chiang return to China. After the couple was received by Chiang Kai-shek and Soong May-ling in Hangzhou, they travelled to the Chiang home in Xikou, Zhejiang where they held a second marriage ceremony. Chiang Fang-liang, stayed behind to live with Chiang Ching-kuo's mother, Mao Fu-mei. But rather than learning the official Mandarin, she learned the local Ningbo dialect. She reportedly got along well with Mao and did her own housework.
When Chiang Ching-kuo became President, Fang-liang rarely performed the traditional roles of First Lady. Indeed, during his entire political career, she largely stayed out of the public spotlight and little was ever known of her.
All the children went abroad to study - Hsiao-wu in Germany and the remaining siblings in the United States. After Ching-kuo's death in 1988, her three sons also died: Hsiao-wen in April 1989, Hsiao-wu in July 1991, and Hsiao-yung in December 1996. Hsiao-chang and her children and grandchildren reside in the United States. Fang-liang lives in Taipei.