Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Jiang Jingguo (1910–1988)

Chinese Nationalist leader and president of the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan) during 1978–1988. Born in Qigou, Zhejiang Province, on 18 March 1910, Jiang Jingguo was the son of Jiang Jieshi, leader of the Guomindang (GMD, Nationalists) who ruled Mainland China until 1949. In 1925 the younger Jiang enrolled at Sun Yixian University and then spent a considerable length of time in the Soviet Union until he returned to China in early 1937.

Throughout the Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War, Jiang held a number of military and administrative posts in the GMD government, becoming a close aide to his father. Convinced of the GMD's final defeat in the civil war, he followed his father to Taiwan in 1949. Over the years his political significance continued to grow within the GMD government. He assumed the post of minister of national defense in 1965 and then in 1972 became the premier of the ROC.

Jiang's political powers continued to expand after his father's death in 1975. In 1978 he was elected president of the ROC, and in this capacity he worked diligently to modernize Taiwan and break its international diplomatic isolation, which had resulted from the People's Republic of China-U.S. rapprochement that had begun in the early 1970s. In doing so, he relied heavily on foreign trade, which enabled Taiwan to maintain economic and diplomatic relations with a number of nations in the developing world. Despite the GMD's historical opposition to the Chinese communists, Jiang did permit limited communications between the Taiwanese and the mainland Chinese, which facilitated subsequent PRC-ROC dialogue. Jiang died in Taipei, Taiwan, on 13 January 1988, and the ROC presidency thus passed to his designated successor, Li Denghui.

Law Yuk-fun


Further Reading
Taylor, Jay. The Generalissimo's Son: Chiang Ching-kuo and the Revolution in China and Taiwan. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000.
 

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