Obituary: General Wego Chiang

Wego Chiang, soldier: born Fenghua County, Zhejiang Province, China 6 October 1916; married (one son); died Taipei, Taiwan 22 September 1997.

General Wego Chiang was an adopted son of the late Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek who spent much of his career preparing to fight mainland China's Communists but ended his days uncertain of his loyalty to the government his foster-father established.

Chiang died at the age of 80 at the Veterans Hospital in Taipei, embittered by what he saw as Taiwan's drift towards independence. He was Chiang Kai- shek's most senior male heir. Although his career undoubtedly benefited from his association with the once all-powerful Chiang clan, he professed in his latter years that the Chiang name did not really mean much to him. "Physically the Chiangs may disappear," he said in 1995, "but the spirit will remain. And this spirit is [that of] the Chinese philosophy . . . of harmony."

Wego Chiang was born five years after the collapse of China's last imperial dynasty. He revealed in an autobiography last year that he was actually the son of a friend of Chiang Kai-shek's and a Japanese nurse. Chiang Kai-shek adopted him to preserve his friend's honour.

At about the age of 20, in the city of Nanking, Chiang joined the Kuomintang or Nationalist Party headed by his foster- father. At the time, north-east China was under Japanese occupation and the Kuomintang was fighting against a Communist insurgency led by Mao Tse-tung. In 1937 full-scale war with Japan erupted. During the first few months of the conflict, Wego Chiang trained in Germany with the Nazis' 98th Jaeger Regiment.

After the defeat of Japan, Chiang commanded a tank regiment in the escalating war against the Communists. On 22 May 1949 he flew from Shanghai to Taiwan to get his foster-father's signature for the dispatch of civilian aircraft to Hawaii to pick up a supply of tank shells. He found on his arrival, however, that all transport back to Shanghai had been suspended because of the fighting. Wego Chiang never returned to the mainland.

Chiang's career remained with the military. In 1958 he was appointed Chief of Armour of the Taiwan armed forces. From 1968 until 1980 he worked at the Armed Forces University, rising to the position of college president. After his retirement from the military in 1986 he was appointed secretary general of Taiwan's National Security Council.

Two years later, Chiang Kai-shek's son Chiang Ching-kuo, who had succeeded his father as Taiwan's leader when the generalissimo died in 1975, himself died in Taipei. Chiang Ching-kuo's successor was Lee Teng-hui, whose appointment marked the start of a new era of political liberalisation on the island.

Wego Chiang looked on aghast at some of President Lee's reforms. The forced retirement of old mainland members of the National Assembly in the early 1990s was one of his most galling moves. Lee replaced them with members elected in Taiwan, a move that conservatives like Wego Chiang saw as undermining the Taiwan government's claim to represent the whole of China.

Chiang said that politics was not his "cup of tea", but in 1990, with support from old-guard members of the Kuomintang, he put his name forward as a possible candidate for the post of Vice-President. Reform-minded party leaders, however, named a top aide to Lee to be his running mate. Thus was extinguished the glimmer of hope the old guard nurtured for a revival of the Chiang dynasty.

Despite his reservations, Chiang accepted an appointment in 1993 as a senior adviser to President Lee. He kept that job until the eve of Taiwan's first ever direct presidential elections in 1996. The election campaign widened the rift between Lee and the ruling party's conservative wing. Wego Chiang backed two senior party members who deserted Lee to run against him. They and the other presidential hopefuls were roundly defeated in the March polls.

Chiang said the biggest mistake made by Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching- kuo had been to die too early. Despite the endemic corruption, economic chaos and dictatorial brutality of Chiang Kai-shek's rule on the mainland, Wego Chiang said he could not think of any big mistakes the Chiangs had made. But in a reference to Chiang Ching-kuo's grooming of Lee Teng-hiu as his successor, Wego Chiang acknowledged that his clan maybe had "misused a few people and put them in important jobs".

Chiang believed that President Lee had betrayed the principles of the Nationalist leader Dr Sun Yat-sen and of Chiang Kai-shek, which he said were an extension of the ancient doctrine of Confucius. Wego Chiang told reporters in 1995 that, in respect of wanting a unified China, the mainland's Communist government more represented the ideals of his foster-father than did President Lee.

Wego Chiang went as far as speculating that, were the Communists to invade because of a move towards independence by Taiwan, Taiwanese soldiers would not want to fight to protect their island's government. "Many people believe they are running into an unnecessary war," he said. "Under any party, China should be unified and given a chance to work for the good of the whole world."

Chiang said confidently two years ago that Taiwan would be reunified with China in his lifetime. He died with no sign of progress towards that goal. His other dream - of moving the remains of Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo from Taiwan to the Communist mainland - remained unfulfilled too. The government said this would be impossible before reunification. But the ruling party has said it would have no objections to Wego Chiang's remains being taken to China should his family wish it.

Suggested Topics
Sport
Premier League Live
footballLIVE Follow all the Premier League action as it happens
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + echSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
James Argent from Towie is missing, police say
peopleTV star had been reported missing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Commercial Property Solicitor - Bristol

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM A high qual...

DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, Linux, Shell, Bash)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...

Data Scientist (SQL, PHP, RSPSS, CPLEX, SARS, AI) - London

£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone