Thu, Jan 22, 2009 - Page 8 News List

A second look at Chiang Ching-kuo

By Ko Tsi-jin 高志仁

The Chinese-language daily China Times recently published in serial form an article by Huang Ching-lung (黃清龍) entitled “Grace and rupture – K.C. Wu [吳國楨] and the two Chiangs.” Huang’s article draws on various sources, including the diaries of former dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) recently made public by the archives of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, files declassified by the US Department of State, and A Biography of K.C. Wu published by the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) in 1995. Based on these sources, Huang gives an account of the fierce power struggle that took place between Wu and Chiang in Taiwan in the early 1950s.

The article also mentions that Wu and Chiang’s son Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) were as incompatible as fire and water. Huang’s summary with regard to their relationship is that “Chiang Ching-kuo’s methods, modeled as they were on those of the Soviet Communist Party ... were loathsome and completely unacceptable to the western-educated K.C. Wu.”

Henry Liu (劉宜良), who wrote A Biography of Chiang Ching-kuo under the pen name Chiang Nan (江南) was assassinated in the US in 1984. There is a theory that his killing was related to his plan to write a biography of Wu.

Huang says that one of the problems Wu faced following his appointment as governor of Taiwan Province was “interference by the intelligence gathering system headed by Chiang Ching-kuo.” At the time, Chiang was director of the political department of the Ministry of National Defense.

Huang tells us: “He was also in charge of confidential information at the Presidential Office, making him the spymaster in full control of all party and government intelligence networks. With these powers in his hands, Chiang launched the White Terror in Taiwan. Wu was extremely indignant about the way in which secret agents ran amuck and trampled human rights.”

The biggest clash between Wu and Chiang was over the China Youth Anti-communist National Salvation Corps (CYC, 救國團) established by Chiang.

According to Huang, “Wu was of the opinion that the CYC was an unlawful organization modeled on the Communist Youth League. He not only refused to provide funding for the CYC, but even called for it to be abolished. This amounted to a public showdown with Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo.”

In 1953, Wu was dismissed from his post and went to live in the US. From across the sea, he severely criticized the Chiang government, emphasizing among other things the unfettered government spy networks and the establishment of the CYC as a means of exercising thought control over students.

Just like Chiang Kai-shek’s dozens of residences, CYC activity centers quickly mushroomed in scenic spots all over Taiwan. Presented as an organizer of group activity travel for youth and students, the CYC was in reality a shady instrument of thought control for the dictatorship packaged in a bright, sunny image.

In 2007, an investigation by the National Property Administration under the Ministry of Finance (財政部國有財產局) found that the CYC occupied more than 1.8 hectares of state-owned land. In view of this, the Ministry of Education lodged a complaint against the CYC for unjustified expropriation of national property.

In response, Prudence Chou (周祝瑛), in her capacity as chairwoman of the teacher’s association at National Chengchi University, wrote in an emotionally worded open letter to then Ministry of Education secretary-general Chuang Kuo-jung (莊國榮).

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