Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan

The Lithuanian Jewish First Lady no one saw in the Republic of China

I lived in Taiwan in three separate years during the 1978-1988 Presidency of Chiang Ching-Kuo (Apl 27, 1910–Jan 13, 1988), the son of Chiang Kai-Shek.

And in that time, I had only seen one image of his wife, the First Lady of the nation, who was for the most part kept hidden from public view.

Inter-racial marriages were rare at the time in Asia. And they had a past.

She was once a Communist (and arguably so was he). The government in Taiwan was very anti-Communist then. President Chiang Ching-Kuo once lived in the USSR for 12 years, some of that time as a political hostage of Joseph Stalin.

At first, he told his father Chiang Kai-Shek that he wanted to study in Moscow. In 1925, Chiang Ching-Kuo was admitted into a Communist school and was named Nikolai Vladimirovich Elizarov. His classmates included Deng Xiao-Ping, who would become China's leader 1978-1992 while Chiang Ching-Kuo was President in Taiwan.

In April 1927, Chiang Kai-Shek purged Communists from China, causing tension with the USSR.

Stalin sent Chiang's son to work in Yekaterinburg in Belarus. It's there in 1933, he met a 16 year old named Faina Ipat'evna Vakherevich of Lithuanian-Jewish heritage who worked for him. They married March 15, 1935. and she would be known as Chiang Fang-Liang (15 May 1916–15 Dec 2004). They were sent to Siberia by Stalin who eventually allowed them to return to China 1936-37.

They are pictured in Gannan, China, 1937-49.

After the Communist Revolution of 1949, they fled with the anti-Communist Chiang Kai-Shek to Taiwan where the capital for the Republic of China was set up in Taipei eventually. The Presidential Office Building was already built in 1919.

After his dad died in 1975, Chiang Ching-Kuo would later become President from 1978 until his death in 1988. In 1978, the United States stopped recognizing the Republic of China as a sovereign Chinese nation. In 1987, Chiang would remove martial law which had been imposed for a world record 38+ years.

Strangely, the three sons Chiang Ching-Kuo had with Chiang Fang-Liang all died soon after his death between the ages of 46 and 54. A daughter still survives.

Chiang Fang-Liang rarely left Taiwan in the last 50 years of her life (only 3x). She only one had contact in 1992 with her homeland when the Mayor of Minsk visited her.

She was the First Lady no one really knew.

The Lithuanian Jewish First Lady no one saw in the Republic of China