Sun, Jul 14, 2002 - Page 2 News List

John Chang fights for a name

When he was first told his father was Chiang Ching-kuo, Chang reacted with bitterness and anger, but he has since embraced his family and the KMT lawmaker is now battling to have the names of his biological parents put on his identification card

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

John Chang, standing underneath pictures of former presidents Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo, celebrates his election to the legislature on Dec. 1, last year.


For KMT Legislator John Chang (章孝嚴), widely believed to be the illegitimate son of late president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), the failure to be officially recognized as a member of the Chiang family is a life-long regret.

Born out of wedlock, he had no choice but to carry his mother's last name and led his early life without the comfort and luster enjoyed by the Chiang clan when his father and grandfather, Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), ruled Taiwan.

Recently, he took steps to address the problem by applying to have the names of who he believes to be his biological parents put on his identification card.

"Chiang Ching-kuo is my father," the lawmaker told a news conference on June 28. "Billions of people in Taiwan as well as in China know of our ties. It is unfortunate that this fact is not reflected on my identification papers."

Currently, Chang's uncle, Chang Hau-juo (章浩若), and his aunt, Chi Chen (季琛), are listed as his parents on his identification card.

But in order for Chang to change his identification card he will have to overcome some legal obstacles.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, Chang would have to prove that Chang Hau-juo and Chi Chen are not his biological parents and show that Chiang and Chang Ya-juo, Chiang's mistress, were his biological parents.

"As `Chang' is engraved on the tombstone of my twin brother Chang Hsiao-tzu (章孝慈), so it will appear on mine when the day comes," he said during a public speech in 1999.

Though he would not openly admit it, Chang, a former minister of foreign affairs, apparently feels ambivalent toward the Chiang family, whose surviving members today refuse to count him as kin.

And so his struggle to be become a family member continues -- despite his trip in 2000 across the Strait to pay tribute to the Chiang shrine in Zhejiang Province.

In 1942, Chang and his twin brother were born in China's Guangxi Province.

Their mother Chang Ya-juo (章亞若) died months later, and some have attributed her death to foul play. She met Chiang Ching-kuo in Jiangxi Province where the latter acted as her military instructor.

Chiang was in his early thirties then and had been married to his Russian-born wife, Chiang Fang-liang (蔣方良), for three years.

To avoid upsetting his wife, Chiang did not make known his extramarital affair or his relations to the twins during his lifetime.

Rather, he asked General Wang Sheng (王昇) to take care of them on his behalf. The late president also helped with their living expenses, education and careers.

According to former premier Lee Huan (李煥), Chiang once painted the romantic episode as a blight on his squeaky-clean image.

"A man must watch out for his conduct when young or he may have to pay for the consequences of his folly the rest of his life," Lee quoted his former boss as saying.

At the age of seven, Chang and his brother fled to Taiwan with their maternal uncle and grandmother who raised them after the Communist Party rose to power in China.

They settled in Hsinchu County where the twin brothers completed their high-school education.

Life there was austere. Except for light bulbs, there were no other electric goods in the home, Chang said, adding that his uncle had to borrow money to support the family several times.

To help ease the family's financial burden, Chang had to work part time as a private tutor while in college.

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