It still surprises me that Taiwan seemingly remains such a central but much muddled point of consternation in US foreign policy. If push comes to shove, America will go to war on behalf of Japan or South Korea. But regarding Taiwan, that will always default to diplomacy.
As she helped us understand the beginnings of WWI in The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman doesn't mince words as she describes the corrupt character of Chiang. If not for Madame Chiang, the real brains of the two, it's unlikely he would have even made it to Taiwan at all. When she died at 105, the NY Times obituary captures her immense role in the nationalist movement, shaping America's China policy and early history of Taiwan.From NY Times
Madame Chiang Kai-shek, a pivotal player in one of the 20th century's great epics -- the struggle for control of post-imperial China waged between the Nationalists and the Communists during the Japanese invasion and the violent aftermath of World War II -- died on Thursday in New York City, the Foreign Ministry of Taiwan reported early Friday. She was 105 years old.
Madame Chiang, a dazzling and imperious politician, wielded immense influence in Nationalist China, but she and her husband were eventually forced by the Communist victory into exile in Taiwan, where she presided as the grand dame of Nationalist politics for many years. After Chiang Kai-shek died in 1975, Madame Chiang retreated to New York City, where she lived out her last quarter-century.
Madame Chiang was the most famous member of one of modern China's most remarkable families, the Soongs, who dominated Chinese politics and finance in the first half of the century. Yet in China it was her American background and lifestyle that distinguished Soong Mei-ling, her maiden name.
For many Americans, Madame Chiang's finest moment came in 1943, when she barnstormed the United States in search of support for the Nationalist cause against Japan, winning donations from countless Americans who were mesmerized by her passion, determination and striking good looks. Her address to a joint meeting of Congress electrified Washington, winning billions of dollars in aid.
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Madame Chiang helped craft American policy toward China during the war years, running the Nationalist Government's propaganda operation and emerging as its most important diplomat. Yet she was also deeply involved in the endless maneuvering of her husband, who served uneasily at the helm of several shifting alliances with Chinese warords vying for control of what was then a badly fractured nation.Full article here:http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/24/world ... -dies.html