Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Chiang Wei-kuo

Chiang Wei-kuo , or Wego Chiang was an adopted son of Chiang Kai-shek, adoptive brother of Chiang Ching-kuo, and an important figure in the Kuomintang . His nickname was Jianhao and sobriquet Niantang .

Early life

Born in Tokyo when Chiang Kai-shek and the KMT was exiled to Japan by the Beiyang Government, Chiang Wei-kuo has long been speculated to be an offspring of Tai Chi-tao and a Japanese woman, Shigematsu Kaneko . Chiang Wei-kuo previously discredited any such claims and insisted he was a legitimate son of Chiang Kai-shek until his later years, when he admitted that he was adopted.

According to popular gossip, Tai believed knowledge of his Japanese tryst would destroy his marriage and his career, so he entrusted Wei-kuo to Chiang Kai-shek, after the Japanese Yamada Juntaro brought the infant to Shanghai. Yao Yecheng , Chiang's wife at the time, raised Wei-kuo as her own. The boy called Tai his "Dear Uncle" .

Chiang moved to the Chiang ancestral home in Xikuo Town of Fenghua in 1910.

Wei-kuo studied at Soochow University. With his sibling held as a virtual political hostage by Stalin, Chiang sent Wei-kuo to Germany for a military education at the Munich Military Academy. Here, he would learn the most up to date German military tactical doctrines, organization, and use of weaponry on the modern battlefield such as the German-inspired theory of the Maschinengewehr led squad, incorporation of Air and Armored branches into Infantry attack, etc. After completing this training, Wei-kuo completed specialized Alpine warfare training, thus earning him the coveted Gebirgsjäger Edelweiss sleeve insignia. This was not an easy accomplishment, as part of the training selection included carrying 30 kilos of ruck sack through the Bavarian Alps. Wei-kuo was promoted to Unteroffizier and was evidently a fine marksman, as his pictures depict him wearing the Schützenschnur lanyard.

Wei-kuo commanded a Panzer during the 1938 Austrian Anschluss, leading a tank into that country; subsequently, he was promoted to Leutnant of a Panzer unit awaiting to be sent into Poland. Before he was given the mobilization order, he was recalled to China. There, Wei-kuo became a Major at 28, a Lieutenant Colonel at 29, a Colonel at 32, and later, a Major General. Wei-kuo was in charge of a M4 Sherman tank battalion during 1948 Nationalist-Communist campaign against Deng Xiao Ping's troops, scoring some early victories. In 1949 he moved his armor regiment to Taiwan.

In 1944, he married Shih Chin-i, the daughter of Shih Feng-hsiang , a textile tycoon from North West China. Shih died in 1953 during a child birth. Wei-kuo later established the Jinsin Elementary School in Taipei to commemorate his late wife.

In 1957, Chiang re-married, to Chiu Ju-hsüeh , also known as Chiu Ai-lun , a daughter of Chinese and German parents. Chiu gave birth to Chiang's only son, Chiang Hsiao-kang, in 1962. Chiang Hsiao-kang is the youngest of the of the Chiang family.

Political career

His positions in the Republic of China government included:
* Commanding general of the armored vehicles regiment
* Commanding general of the unified logistics division
* Commandant of the Army Strategies College
* Chancellor of the Three-Military University
* Senior advisor to the President
* Secretary-General, Council of National Security

After Chiang Ching-kuo's death, Chiang was a political rival of native Taiwanese Lee Teng-hui, and he strongly opposed Lee's Taiwan localization movement. Chiang ran as vice-president with Taiwan Governor Lin Yang-kang in the . Lee ran as the KMT presidential candidate and defeated the Lin-Chiang ticket.

In 1991, Chiang's housemaid, Li Hung-mei was found dead in Chiang's estate in the Taipei City. The following police investigation discovered a stockpile of sixty guns on Chiang's estate. Chiang himself admitted the possibility of a link between the guns and his maid's death, which was later ruled a suicide by the police. The incident permanently tarnished Chiang Wei-kuo's name, at a time when the Chiang family was increasingly unpopular on Taiwan and even within the Nationalist Party. A new generation of Nationalists no longer had the will or desire to cover the decades of corruption and scandal that the Chiang family had surrounded itself with ever since Chiang Kai-shek rose to power in the 1930s.

Final years

In the early 1990s, Chiang Wei-kuo established an 11-person unofficial Spirit Relocation Committee to petition the Communist government to allow his father and brother to be exhumed and re-interred in mainland China. His request was largely ignored by both the Nationalist and Communist governments, and he was persuaded to abandon the petition by his stepmother and his father's widow, Soong May-ling in November 1996.

In 1994, a hospital was supposed to be named after him in Sanchih, Taipei County, after an unnamed politician donated to Ruentex Financial Group , whose founder was from Stician. Politicians questioned the motivation.

In 1996, the Chiang home on a military land was finally demolished by the order of the Taipei municipal government under Chen Shui-bian. The estate had been constructed in 1971. After Chiang moved elsewhere in 1981, he deeded it to his son. The justification was that son was not in military service and thus was not entitled to live there.

Chiang Wei-kuo died at the age of 82 from kidney failure. He had been experienced falling blood pressure complicated by diabetes after a 10-month illness at Veterans General Hospital, Taipei at 82. He wished to be buried in Suzhou in mainland China, but was instead buried at Wuchih Mountain Military Cemetery.

Chiang Wei-kuo was a Master Mason and was a Past Master of Liberty Lodge #7 in Taipei, Taiwan.

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