Of all the leading political figures who dominated the international scene during world war II, only one survives and continues as chief of state.
Of all the leading political figures who dominated the international scene during world war II, only one survives and continues as chief of state. He is President Chiang Kai-shek of the Republic of China, and he celebrates his 82nd birthday tomorrow. (Friday, October 31)
Other members of the Big Four--Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin--are gone. De Gaulle, who had not ascended to his final high office until after the war, is retired. but Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek still leads free China and its Nationalist party.
His birthday observances have been traditionally quiet and un-ostentatious at his own request. But October is a festive month in Taiwan. The recent Double-Ten holiday--the equivalent of America's July 4th--brought out the bands and the dragon dancers. Standing ram-rod erect, President Chiang said his nation's determined confidence in mainland liberation can never be shaken.
Although shots are rarely fired, free China is still at war with Red China and so the "Gimo' leads a life of austerity. He eats little, never smokes or drinks.
President Chiang's day starts at 6 ayem with calisthenics. He enters notes in his diary -- as he has done for 35 years -- and then reads briefly form his Methodist prayer book.
In 1911 he joined Sun Yat-sen, the father of modern China, in overthrowing the Manchu emperors.
The president's elder con, 59-year old Chiang Ching-kuc (gene. GWO) was recently named vice premier and assigned the task of co-ordinating Taiwan's economic development.
Chiang Kai-shek became President in 1948 under the first Constitution China ever had. He won re-election in 1954 and has since been elected to 2 additional terms. Last Spring he was re-elected Director-General of the Nationalist, or Kuomintangs party.
With American aid he built a nation that is strong militarily and economically. That U.S aid was phased-out four years ago and now Taiwan remains as an example of how an emerging nation can develop from an agricultural economy to a booming success in manufacturing. The Nationalist hope their land reform program and ability to attract foreign investment will be duplicated one day by them in mainland China.
Meanwhile, a constant parade of African and Asian government leaders...and rank and file technicians, fly to Taiwan each week.
Like President Hamani Diori of Niger last week, they confer with President Chiang and Chinese farm and industrial experts to learn how a small nation can sustain itself and eventually prosper.
Taiwan has the second highest standard of living in Asia... it enjoys a favorable balance of trade...and its gross national product has increased this year by 10 per cont.
Free China has transformed itself from an aid-recipient to a nation which now has over 1,000 technicians giving aid to 32 Asian, African, and Latin American countries.