Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chiang Kai-shek's adopted son

I've been working on the history section of the guidebook. It's been a pleasure and an education. Unfortunately there are lots of colourful episodes and anecdotes I'd like to include but there just isn't space. The life story of Chiang Wei-kuo (蔣緯國, 1916-1997) is one.

In 1988, Chiang confirmed what many had guessed: That Chiang Kai-shek wasn’t his real father and that his birth was the result of a love affair in Tokyo between Tai Chi-tao, a KMT heavyweight then in exile, and a Japanese woman called Shigematsu Kaneko. Chiang Kai-shek adopted Wei-kuo to protect Tai’s reputation and marriage, and later sent him to Germany for military training. There he proved his worth as a soldier. He served as a tank commander during the Anschluss, Hitler’s takeover of Austria, and was promoted to the command of a Panzer unit training for the invasion of Poland. Before that operation was launched his father recalled him to China, where he applied what he’d learned in Germany first against the Japanese and then against the Communists. Decades later in Taiwan, he stood for the vice presidency on an unofficial conservative ticket opposed to Lee Teng-hui.

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