TAIWAN UNDER CHIANG KAI-SHEK'S SON CHIANG CHING-KUO

CHIANG KAI-SHEK'S SON TAKES POWER

Chiang Kai-shek was succeeded after his death in 1975 by his son, Chiang Ching-kuo, the former head of the secret police, who formally became president in 1978. The Kuomintang continued to govern with one-party rule and the government was sometimes referred to as the "Chiang Dynasty."

Chiang Ching-kuo (1910 – 1988) was a Kuomintang (KMT) politician and held numerous posts in the government of the Republic of China (ROC). He succeeded his father to serve as Premier of the Republic of China between 1972 and 1978 and was the President of the Republic of China from 1978 until his death in 1988. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Chiang Ching-kuo studied in the Soviet Union and was prevented from returning to China by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin when his father stepped up his anti-Communist activities. The young Chiang enrolled in military school in Russia, joined the Communist party, married a Russian coworker, and worked in a gold mine, a collective farm and an electronic plant. Ten years after the death of Chiang Kai-shek, a Taiwanese magazine asserted that he was not the biological father of Chiang Ching-kuo. The source of the information was Wego Chiang, Chiang Kai-shek’s adopted son.

Under his tenure, the government of the Republic of China, while authoritarian, became more open and tolerant of political dissent. According to Lonely Planet: The younger Chiang’s rule over Taiwan was softer than that of his father; in an effort to improve relations with native Taiwanese, Chiang allowed more Taiwanese to take up political positions. The late 1970s saw increasing political dissent in Taiwan. One of the most noteworthy uprisings of the late martial law–period place occurred in December 1979 (See Kaohsiung Incident In the White Terror Article). Towards the end of his life, Chiang relaxed government controls on the media and speech and allowed native Taiwanese into positions of power, including his successor Lee Teng-hui. [Source: Lonely Planet]

Book: “The Generalissimo's Son: Chiang Ching-kuo and the Revolutions in China and Taiwan” by Jay Taylor, Harvard University Press, 2000.

Chiang Ching-kuo’s Early Life

The son of President Chiang Kai-shek and his first wife Mao Fumei, Chiang Ching-kuo was born on April 27,1 1910 in Fenghua, Zhejiang, with the courtesy name of Jiànfe-ng. He had an adopted brother, Chiang Wei-kuo. "Ching" literally means "longitude" while "kuo" means "nation". While the young Chiang Ching-kuo had a peaceable relationship with his mother and grandmother (who were deeply rooted to their Buddhist faith), his relationship with his father was strict, utilitarian and often rocky. Chiang Kai-shek appeared to his son as an authoritarian figure, sometimes indifferent to his problems. Even in personal letters between the two, Chiang Kai-shek would sternly order his son to improve his Chinese calligraphy. [Source: Wikipedia +]

From 1916 until 1919 Chiang Ching-kuo attended the "Grammar School" in Wushan in Hsikou. Then, in 1920, his father hired tutors to teach him the four books, considered the basis of all Chinese culture. On June 4, 1921, Ching-kuo's grandmother died. What might have been an immense emotional loss was compensated for by Chiang Kai-shek moving his family to Shanghai. Chiang Ching-Kuo's stepmother, historically known as the Chiang family's "Shanghai Mother", went with them. During this period, Chiang Kai-shek concluded that Chiang Ching-kuo was a son to be taught, while Chiang Wei-Kuo was a son to be loved. +

During his time in Shanghai, Chiang Ching-kuo was supervised by his father by being made to write a weekly letter containing 200-300 Chinese characters. Chiang Kai-shek also underlined the importance of classical books and of learning English, two areas he was hardly proficient in himself. On March 20, 1924, Chiang Ching-kuo was able to present to his now-nationally famous father a proposal concerning the grass-roots organization of the rural population in Hsikou. Chiang Ching-kuo planned to provide free education in order to allow people to read and to write at least 1000 characters. +

In early 1925, Chiang Ching-kuo entered the Shanghai's Pudong College, but immediately afterwards Chiang Kai-shek decided to send him on to Beijing because of warlord action and spontaneous riots in Shanghai. In Beijing he attended the school organized by a friend of his father, Wu Chih-hui, a renowned scholar and linguist. The school combined classical and modern approaches to education. While there, Ching-kuo started to identify himself as a progressive revolutionary and participated in the flourishing social scene inside the young Communist community. +

Chiang Ching-kuo in the Soviet Union

The idea of studying in Moscow caught Chiang Ching-kuo’s imagination.[4] Within the help program provided by the Soviet Union to the countries of East Asia there was a training school that later became the Moscow Sun Yat-sen University. The participants to the university were selected by the CPSU and KMT members. Chiang Ching-kuo asked his teacher Wu Chih-hui to name him as a KMT candidate. Chiang Kai-shek was not keen on sending his son to the USSR, but he finally agreed. In a 1996 interview, Ch'en's brother, Li-fu, claimed that the reason behind Chiang Kai-shek acceptance was the need to have Soviet support during a period when his hold over the KMT was not guaranteed. [Source: Wikipedia +]

In 1925, Chiang Ching-Kuo went on to Moscow to study at a Communist school. While in Moscow, Chiang Ching-kuo was given the Russian name Nikolai Vladimirovich Elizarov and put under the tutelage of Karl Radek at the Communist University of the Toilers of the East. Noted for having an exceptional grasp of international politics, his classmates included other children of influential Chinese families, most notably the future Chinese Communist party leader, Deng Xiaoping. Soon Ching-kuo was an enthusiastic student of Communist ideology, particularly Trotskyism; though following the Great Purge, Joseph Stalin privately met with him and ordered him to publicly denounce Trotskyism. Chiang even applied to be a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, although his request was denied. +

In April 1927, however, Chiang Kai-Shek purged the KMT leftists and Communists from the Central Government and expelled his Soviet advisers. Following this, Chiang Ching-kuo wrote an editorial that harshly criticized his father's actions and was detained as a "guest" of the Soviet Union as a practical hostage. Debate still continues as to whether he had been forced to write it, and it is known that some years beforehand he had seen many of his Trotskyist friends arrested and killed by the Soviet secret police. +

It is possible that Chiang Ching-kuo was held to be used by Stalin as leverage in Sino-Soviet relationships. Nevertheless, the Soviet government sent Chiang Ching-kuo to work in the Ural Heavy Machinery Plant, a steel factory in the Urals, Yekaterinburg, where he met Faina Ipat'evna Vakhreva, a native Belarusian. They married on March 15, 1935, and she would later become known as Chiang Fang-liang. In December of that year, a son, Hsiao-wen was born. A daughter, Hsiao-chang, was born the next year. +

Chiang Kai-shek wrote about the situation in his diary, "It is not worth it to sacrifice the interest of the country for the sake of my son." Chiang even refused to negotiate a prisoner swap for his son in exchange for the Chinese Communist Party leader. His attitude remained consistent, and he continued to maintain, by 1937, that "I would rather have no offspring than sacrifice our nation's interests." Chiang had absolutely no intention of stopping the war against the Communists. +

Stalin allowed Chiang Ching-kuo to return to China with his Belarusian wife and two children in April 1937 after living in the USSR for 12 years. By then, the NRA under Chiang Kai-shek and the Communists under Mao Zedong had signed a ceasefire to create the Second United Front and fight the Japanese invasion of China, which began in July. Stalin hoped the Chinese would keep Japan from invading the Soviet Pacific coast, and he hoped to form an anti-Japanese alliance with the senior Chiang. +

Chiang Ching-kuo Returns to China

On his return, his father assigned a tutor, Hsu Dau-lin, to assist with his readjustment to China. Chiang Ching-Kuo was appointed as a specialist in remote districts of Jiangxi where he was credited with training of cadres and fighting corruption, opium consumption, and illiteracy. Chiang Ching-kuo was appointed as commissioner of Gannan Prefecture between 1939 and 1945; there he banned smoking, gambling and prostitution, studied governmental management, allowed for economic expansion and a change in social outlook. His efforts were hailed as a miracle in the political war in China, then coined as the "Gannan New Deal". [Source: Wikipedia +]

After the Second Sino-Japanese War and during the Chinese Civil War, Chiang Ching-kuo briefly served as a liaison administrator in Shanghai, trying to eradicate the corruption and hyperinflation that plagued the city. He was determined to do this because of the fears arising from the Nationalists' increasing lack of popularity during the Civil War. Given the task of arresting dishonest businessmen who hoarded supplies for profit during the inflationary spiral, he attempted to assuage the business community by explaining that his team would only go after big war profiteers. +

Chiang Ching-kuo copied Soviet methods, which he learned during his stay in the Soviet Union, to start a social revolution by attacking middle class merchants. He also enforced low prices on all goods to raise support from the Proletariat. As riots broke out and savings were ruined, bankrupting shopowners, Chiang Ching-kuo began to attack the wealthy, seizing assets and placing them under arrest. The son of the gangster Du Yuesheng was arrested by him. Ching-kuo ordered KMT agents to raid the Yangtze Development Corporation's warehouses, which was privately owned by H.H. Kung and his family, as the company was accused of hoarding supplies. H.H. Kung's wife was Soong Ai-ling, the sister of Soong May-ling who was Chiang Ching-kuo's stepmother. H.H. Kung's son David was arrested, the Kung's responded by blackmailing the Chiang's, threatening to release information about them, eventually he was freed after negotiations, and Chiang Ching-kuo resigned, ending the terror on the Shanghainese merchants. +

Chiang Ching-kuo Under Chang Kai-shek in Taiwan

After the Nationalists lost control of mainland China to the Communists in the Chinese Civil War, Chiang Ching-kuo followed his father and the retreating Nationalist forces to Taiwan. On December 8, 1949, the Nationalist capital was moved from Chengdu to Taipei, and early on December 10, 1949, Communist troops laid siege to Chengdu, the last KMT controlled city on mainland China. Here Chiang Kai-shek and his son Chiang Ching-kuo directed the city's defense from the Chengdu Central Military Academy, before the aircraft May-ling evacuated them to Taiwan; they would never return to mainland China. [Source: Wikipedia +]

In 1950, Chiang's father appointed him director of the secret police, which he remained until 1965. An enemy of the Chiang family, Wu Kuo-chen, was kicked out of his position of governor of Taiwan by Chiang Ching-kuo and fled to America in 1953. Chiang Ching-kuo, educated in the Soviet Union, initiated Soviet style military organization in the Republic of China Military, reorganizing and Sovietizing the political officer corps, surveillance, and KMT party activities were propagated throughout the military. Opposed to this was Sun Li-jen, who was educated at the American Virginia Military Institute. Chiang orchestrated the controversial court-martial and arrest of General Sun Li-jen in August 1955, allegedly for plotting a coup d'état with the American CIA against his father. General Sun was a popular Chinese war hero from the Burma Campaign against the Japanese and remained under house arrest until Chiang Ching-kuo's death in 1988. Ching-kuo also approved the arbitrary arrest and torture of prisoners. Chiang Ching-kuo's activities as director of the secret police remained widely criticized as heralding a long era of human rights abuses in Taiwan. +

From 1955 to 1960, Chiang administered the construction and completion of Taiwan's highway system. Chiang's father elevated him to high office when he was appointed as the ROC Defense Minister from 1965 until 1969. He was the nation's Vice Premier between 1969 and 1972, during which he survived an assassination attempt while visiting the U.S. in 1970. Afterwards he was appointed the nation's Premier between 1972 and 1978. As Chiang Kai-shek entered his final years, he gradually gave more responsibilities to his son, and when he died in April 1975, Vice President Yen Chia-kan became president for the balance of Chiang Kai-shek's term, while Chiang Ching-kuo succeeded to the leadership of the KMT (he opted for the title "Chairman" rather than the elder Chiang's title of "Director-General"). +

Taiwan Under Chiang Ching-kuo

The younger, more liberal Chiang began “Taiwanizing” the KMT and the government, bringing in those who shared his views on socioeconomic modernization. The political door was cracked open, and soon independents (non-party—tang-wai or dangwai) were winning numerous seats in the Taiwan Provincial Assembly and in local elections. Things did not always go well, however. On December 10, 1979, there was a violent clash between tang-wai demonstrators and KMT-hired troublemakers and local police in Kao-hsiung.

During the next eight years, government attempts to repress political activism were met with renewed middle-class activism, which eventually led to reform within the KMT. Emboldened, the tang-wai activists defied the government’s ban on establishing new political parties and founded the Democratic Progressive Party (Minzhu Jinpu Dang, abbreviated as Minjindang; DPP) in September 1986. Chiang resisted his conservative colleagues in the KMT and allowed the DPP to stand. In October 1986, Chiang facilitated a resolution to end martial law, which had been in effect since 1948. In December 1986, the first legal two-party Legislative Yuan election was held, and the DPP won 12 of the 73 open seats. Chiang also made liberalizing gestures to Beijing by allowing Republic of China citizens to visit the mainland. [Source: Library of Congress]

On Chiang Ching-guo reaction to the Kaohsiung incident, which took place under his watch in 1979, the writer Chen Jo-shi (Chen Roxi) told Asia Weekly: “I believe that he was sincere about finding the truth about the Kaohsiung incident (=the Formosa incident), unless he was putting on a show. But I did not think so. Was I relaying what the taxi drivers were saying? No. But the taxi drivers at the time were terrorized, like as if this was another 2/28 incident. Chiang Ching-kuo seemed surprised. He did not realize that things were so serious, and the people were reacted so strongly. He may have heard his subordinates telling him to suppress the crowd. The television programs also supported the government actions to suppress. I guessed that he was surprised by what I said about what the people were thinking. Therefore he wanted to see if for himself in a taxi. He was seeking the truth. I admire that.” [Source: Asia Weekly Interview With Chen Jo-shi (Chen Roxi), November 14, 2008]

In 1987, Chiang Ching-kuo announced the end of martial law. The following year, Chiang passed away and his vice president, Lee Teng-hui, became the first Taiwanese-born ROC president. For Taiwan, a new era had begun. [Source: Lonely Planet ++]

Chiang Ching-kuo Makes Democratic Reforms and Ends Martial Law

Beginning in the 1970s, Taiwan began moving towards democracy. Among the factors that played a part in the change were the island’s economic success, divisions between the native Taiwan and the mainlanders, generational changes in the Kuomintang and the normalizing of relations between the U.S. and mainland China in 1971.

In 1986, opposition leaders got together and formed the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), and were allowed to run for seats in the legislature. The DPP campaigned on a platform of independence for Taiwan. The DPP regularly took only 5 percent of the vote against the KMT.

In July, 1987, Chiang Ching-kuo surprised everyone by rescinding martial law. "The party," he said, “must accommodate itself to changing times." Chiang Ching-kuo died less than a year later, in January 1988. One sociologist told Zich that he ended martial law because "there's an old Chinese saying: 'Before one dies, one tells the truth.'...[He] had few friends. He trusted no one. He was old, almost blind, and he knew he was dying." [Source: Arthur Zich, National Geographic, November 1993]

Chiang Ching-kuo also made reforms that allowed Taiwanese residents to visit relatives on the mainland (1987), lead to the removal of restriction on the press (1988), the legalization of opposition parties (1989), and the reorganization the Taiwanese legislature (1992). Two days before Chiang died a law was passed that allowed freedom of assembly (1988).

Burying Chang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo?

In the mid 2000s, there was some discussion of finally letting Chang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo rest in peace and giving them proper burials in Taiwan. But in the end, even though plans were made, the burials never happened. At the time it was assumed they would be buried, Keith Bradsher wrote in the New York Times, “The two black marble sarcophagi sit in similar mausoleums less than a mile apart, each a one-story building of house size arranged around a tiny, grassy courtyard in a wooded valley an hour's drive southwest of Taipei. Inside are the bodies of the men who ran Taiwan under martial law for four decades: Chiang Kai-shek and his son, Chiang Ching-kuo. When Chiang Kai-shek died in 1975, it was widely assumed that he had wanted to be buried someday on the mainland, although he is not known to have left any explicit instructions. His body was embalmed and placed in what is officially still a temporary mausoleum here, and the same was done with his son. [Source: Keith Bradsher. New York Times, September 9, 2004 *=*]

“If the Chiang family has its way, as now seems likely, both former presidents of Taiwan will finally be buried next spring. But the family's decision has awakened old ghosts of a sort: the anger and resentment of the relatives of tens of thousands of people who were tortured or killed or both under martial law, in the name of eradicating Communist sympathizers.Gregory Chiang, a grandson of Chiang Kai-shek and nephew of Chiang Ching-kuo, said that members of the now-scattered family gathered in New York last autumn for the funeral of Madame Chiang Kai-shek and began talking then about the possibility of burials. The family sent a secret letter to Taiwan's Defense Ministry early this year, asking that both men be buried at Taiwan's national military cemetery on the outskirts of Taipei. *=*

“The Defense Ministry agreed this summer, making the family's request public for the first time. In the first interview a family member has granted since the decision, Mr. Chiang said the family wanted the presidents to be with their troops. The family also wanted to spare the government the expense of maintaining the mausoleums, he added. Madame Chiang Kai-shek's body is in a temporary repository in Hartsdale, N.Y. Family members said last year that it was her wish to be buried someday in mainland China after its reunification with Taiwan. Mr. Chiang said she had never spoken to him of what should be done with her body or the presidents' embalmed corpses. "When I visited her, I had cookies, we talked about the children; this wasn't something I talked to my grandmother about," he said. Nor, apparently, did his family consult the people who suffered at his relatives' hands. *=*

“One of the most outspoken of those is J. C. Hung, a television producer specializing in documentaries about martial law victims. Mr. Hung said that he had been born in jail because his parents happened to attend a book club that read books about psychology, a club that a suspected Communist had joined. Mr. Hung's mother and father were arrested, imprisoned for many years and, he said, severely tortured through the first two years of their incarceration. Mr. Hung said he welcomed the Chiang family's decision to have the two men buried, but opposed any ceremony for the event. If a funeral procession is organized next spring through the heart of Taipei, one of the ideas under discussion, Mr. Hung said, he and other critics of martial law will try to desecrate the former presidents' sarcophagi. "We have a chance to throw paint or throw axes," he said, contending that it would be impossible along a long procession route to match the current security at the mausoleums. *=*

“John Chang, who was recognized by the Taiwanese government in December, 2002, as an illegitimate son of Chiang Ching-kuo, said he doubted there would be any incidents during a procession. He contended that security would probably be tighter then than in the mausoleums, where only a single attendant stands inside each and where only single strands of velvet rope hold back visitors from the sarcophagi.” *=*

Legacy and Curse of Chang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo

Keith Bradsher wrote in the New York Times, The Chiangs “still have their admirers. A small group in southern Taiwan has even erected a little temple for the worship of Chiang Kai-shek, whom they revere as divine. More people look back on martial law nostalgically as a calm and prosperous period - before competition from mainland China gutted much of the island's manufacturing base - and gloss over the abductions and assassinations of political opponents. [Source: Keith Bradsher. New York Times, September 9, 2004 *=*]

On a recent summer day, David Liang, a 32-year-old from central Taiwan whose father grew up on the mainland and his mother in Taiwan, showed his toddler how to bow silently and respectfully before the sarcophagus of Chiang Ching-kuo. Outside the mausoleum afterward, he spoke fondly of the days of dictatorship. "After the government lifted martial law," he said, "the political situation in Taiwan became a mess."*=*

If nothing else, the burials could end a curse that, according to traditional local beliefs, will hang over the men's male descendants as long as the corpses remain above ground. All three of Chiang Ching-kuo's legitimate sons and one of his two illegitimate sons died in middle age of cancer and various other natural causes after their father died in 1988. "Sometimes you feel like it's coincidence, but to some degree it is about fortune," said Lynn Huang, 32, a tourist from southern Taiwan who paused outside Chiang Kai-shek's mausoleum. "The dead will get rest when buried underground." *=*

Taiwan Closes and Then Reopens Chiang Kai-shek Mausoleum

In December 2007, authorities closed the mausoleum of Chiang Kai-shek as part of the ruling party's vigorous campaign to diminish the legacy of the late leader. Associated Press reported: “The Defense Ministry ordered the guards to pull out and closed the spacious mausoleum in Taoyuan in northern Taiwan, shutting out dozens of people hoping to pay their respects. Chiang’s 1975 burial in the mausoleum was meant to be temporary -- until the Nationalists could one day return to rule the mainland. President Chen Shui-bian told a political rally that closing the mausoleum would save taxpayers' money. But the move also comes amid a campaign by Chen's Democratic Progressive Party to wipe out the late leader's legacy. Authorities have renamed the Chiang Kai-shek international airport and park commemorating Chiang in the capital, Taipei. [Source: AP, December 24, 2007]

“DPP officials say the democratic island should stop honoring a dictator. But many members of the Nationalist Party -- now the main opposition -- say Chiang blocked a communist invasion and contributed to the island's security and economic development. Chen's government had planned to rebury Chiang's remains at a military cemetery near Taipei. Some of his relatives objected, saying Chiang should be buried in his hometown in China's eastern Zhejiang Province. But other Nationalists have objected to a burial on the mainland as long as the political standoff continues with China, suggesting Chiang's body would stay in the mausoleum.” [Ibid]

In May 2008, a few days after Ma Ying-jeou was inaugurated President of Taiwan, authorities reopened Chiang Kai-shek's mausoleum, which had been closed under Ma’s precessor Chen Shui-ban . Associated Press reported: “The then-ruling Democratic Progressive Party said the democratic island should stop honoring a dictator when it closed the mausoleum in December, 2007. Taoyuan Magistrate Eric Chu says he hopes controversy surrounding Chiang's legacy will end and Saturday's reopening can help boost local tourism. [Source: AP, May 31, 2008]

Chiang Kai-shek’s Diaries Kept Today at Stanford’s Hoover Institution

The diaries of Chiang Kai-shek are kept at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Sheila Melvin wrote on Caixin Online, “The multitudinous, handwritten diaries – some water-logged, others mold-blooming and bug-eaten – were deposited at the Hoover Institution in 2004 by Elizabeth Chiang Fang Chih-yi, the widow of Chiang's grandson Eddie Chiang Hsiao-yung. Eddie was the youngest son of Chiang's own son, Chiang Ching-kuo. Chiang Kai-shek was a committed and avid diarist, approaching it with the discipline he seems to have applied to pretty much everything in life. His writings fill a remarkable 66 volumes and span the years 1917 to 1972; the only volume missing is 1924. [Source: Sheila Melvin, Caixin Online, July 12, 2013 ////]

“Scholars are permitted to peruse facsimiles on green paper in a Hoover reading room, but cannot make photocopies; quoting from the diaries requires permission from the Chiang family, who retain ownership. These somewhat unusual conditions of use apply because the family was initially leery of allowing access to the personal notebooks of their scion. ////

“After 18 months of negotiation, Elizabeth Chiang and other members of the family were ultimately persuaded that Chiang's writings should be made public. "I told the family that Chiang fought for China's modernization all his life but was so misunderstood by Chinese and his image has been greatly distorted," explained Kuo. "I guaranteed the Chiang family that it would lead to a reevaluation of Chiang Kai-shek." And, indeed, that reevaluation seems to be happening. According to Kuo, hundreds of scholars from China have visited Hoover to study the diaries; on any given day, more than a dozen can be found in the Hoover reading room hunched over green papers, immersed in Chiang's thoughts. New scholarship about Chiang and the Sino-Japanese war invariably draws on the diaries. "I knew the diaries were precious and the contents would be very important to understand modern Chinese history but none of us could expect the impact would be so huge," said Kuo. ////

Lee Huan, Key Taiwanese Reformer

Lee Huan, the Prime Minister of the Republic of China on Taiwan in the 1970s and 80s, played an important role during Taiwan's transition from a one-party state under martial law to a semi-democracy. His greatest contributions took place when he occupied key positions in the reformist government under Lee's great political mentor, President Chiang Ching-kuo. [Source: Kerry Brown, The Guardian, December 12, 2010 ^^]

Kerry Brown wrote in The Guardian, “Lee was born on the mainland, in Hubei province, central China, and was educated at Fudan University in Shanghai, where he studied law, and then, in the late 1940s, at Columbia University, New York. On the defeat of the nationalists by the communists in 1949, he moved to Taiwan island, where the Republic of China continued in power. The mass movement of so many mainlanders to Taiwan, while it ensured the survival of the Chiang Kai-shek regime, came at a high price for the native Taiwanese, whose initial opposition to such a huge inward migration was met with brutal suppression. In his early career in the KMT government, Lee served as head of the China Youth Corps and Chair of the National Youth Commission. Later, he was the first president of the National Sun Yat-Sen University. ^^

“It was only in the 1970s that Chiang, elevated to be president three years before his father's death, realised that Taiwan's loss of its seat at the UN in 1971 to the People's Republic of China, and its international isolation, meant that its political structures needed to be strengthened. Lee articulated these new objectives, in a speech for which he was criticised by hardliners in the KMT, as pushing for democracy and promoting freedom of the press. Over the next two decades, these aims would be achieved. ^^

“As director general of the Organisation Department, in charge of key personnel appointments in the KMT (1972-77), Lee oversaw a large influx of native Taiwanese into prominent party positions, in a quest to increase its legitimacy to a population who still regarded the KMT as a political organisation for outsiders. Some of those he helped in their early career, such as Lien Chen, were to enjoy distinguished careers  Lien stood in the presidential election against Chen Shui-bian in 2004, and now serves as the emeritus president of the KMT. A riot against accusations of vote-rigging in Chung-li city in 1977, for which he took responsibility, ended this period of Lee's career. ^^

“He returned in 1984 as minister of education during the critical final phase of Chiang's period as president, when some of the most significant moves were made towards creating a full democracy and allowing the lifting of martial law and organisation of genuinely independent. Lee lifted a number of restrictions on the activities of students, and was part of the group that supported Taiwan-born Lee Teng-hui when he became president after Chiang's death in 1988. His reward for this was to be appointed premier, and head of government, for a year until 1990. Disagreements with Lee Teng-hui led to Lee's departure from office. During the next two decades, he maintained a low profile as a more conservative member of the KMT.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Tourism Bureau, Republic of China (Taiwan), Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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