Premier Chiang Ching-kuo, elder son of the late Chiang Kai-shek, who will be Nationalist China's next president when he succeeds C.
Premier Chiang Ching-kuo, elder son of the late Chiang Kai-shek, who will be Nationalist China's next president when he succeeds C. K. Yen, has spent a lifetime in training for that post.
Immersed in the Chinese classics as a youth, Chiang knows the Chinese heritage.
As a provincial administrator, social reformer, soldier, political warfare specialist, defense minister, economic coordinator, and premier, Chiang knows his government and his nation.
And as a university student in Moscow in the 1920s, and later as a hostage of Josef Stalin, including forced labour on a Russian farm and in a Siberian mine, Chiang understands and abhors communism from first-hand knowledge.
68-year old Chiang Ching-kuo is an energetic leader who knows his constituents, and is personally known by them. With absolutely no pomp, and a minimum of protection, he walks the busy streets of Taipei, Taiwan's capital, and chats with shoppers in a manner rare for the leader of any democratic nation. His informal and gregarious style, of course, is just opposite the austere propriety of his late father, the Generalissimo, who died in 1975.
As Premier, Chiang Ching-kuo had been the leader of the executive branch of the Republic of China for the last six years. He is also chairman of the Central Committee of the Kuomintang, the dominant political party in free China. While the Kuomintang runs the country as the majority party, there are two other small opposition parties in the government. They also supported his elevation to the presidency.
In accepting the post, Chiang vowed that he will be dedicated to bringing freedom to all Chinese... to the rejuvenation of Chinese culture... and to keeping his nation in the democratic camp.
As an industrial nation, Taiwan consumes huge quantities of oil, so relations with the Arab world are important. On excellent terms with Saudi Arabia, Taiwan trades her expertise in farming and factory construction for oil.
American businessmen and legislators are also regular visitors to Taipei. Foreign investors have poured billions of dollars into Taiwan's economy because of attractive tax holidays and availability of skilled labour. America bought 39 per cent of China's exports last year. Taiwan, in turn, was a major purchaser of U.S. goods.
Almost every week Chiang hops into his American-made van and makes un-announced visits around Taiwan. He calls them "my duty and my pleasure." And he quickly discovers, first-hand, the progress of ten major construction projects he has instituted. Super-highways are common in Taiwan and three nuclear power plants are under construction. Informal Chiang is usually the one man in sweater or lumber-jacket.
Chiang Ching-kuo is often described locally as the "jovial uncle." It's another role he enjoys. And as a grandfather....and politician, a photo with mother and unpredictable baby he has just met provides a shot for news photographers.
Even with an American mutual defense pact, free China believes the way to remain free is to be prepared to protect herself. Her population is 17-million. Red China's is 800-million. Even so, Drew Middleton, the New York Times military expert, recently said Taiwan has the better-trained force.
So, forty years in training for his new post as President of the Republic of China, Chiang Ching-kuo appears ready.