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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

Question of Paternity

Was Chiang Ching-kuo the son by blood?

INDEPENDENCE IS NOT THE only hot topic in Taiwan. During his decades-long exile on the island, Chiang Kai-shek fostered a personality cult. Every town had his statue and a leading street named after him. From the walls of every public building and every classroom, his image beamed down as the father of Taiwan. Shocking, therefore, when his ability to be anybody's father is allegedly called into question by a man long thought to be himself one of Chiang's two sons.

Last year Chiang Wego admitted he was adopted by Chiang as a favor to a comrade-in-arms with whom he attended a Japanese military academy. Now doubt has been cast on Chiang's paternity of his elder son, Chiang Ching-kuo, better known as CCK. In a series of taped interviews before his recent death, Wego allegedly told a close friend, university don Fan Kuang-ling, that CCK could not have been Chiang's son because the Generalissimo was infertile due to an unfortunate childhood incident.

According to Fan, Wego recounted that when the future Generalissimo, aged five, was living in his family's ancestral home in China's coastal Zhejiang province, he sat on the heated handle of a stove, mistaking it for a stool, and burned his sexual organs. His mother treated the wounds by smearing lard. When the child was later relieving himself in a field, a stray dog, attracted by the smell of the lard, bit his testicles. The injury left Chiang infertile for the rest of his life, the story goes. CCK, Wego told Fan, was the product of an incestuous relationship between Chiang's first wife and a businessman relative.

The tapes do not include the anecdote. Fan says Wego asked to tell that story off the record. Some Chiang loyalists have filed a defamation suit against Fan. Others say Wego hated his brother and sought to harm his image.

Yet there is a mystery about CCK's parentage. Noted Taiwan writer Li Ao has long claimed Chiang Kai-shek was studying in Japan for the 20 months prior to CCK's 1910 birth in Zhejiang, with no records of his returning to China or his wife visiting Japan. (CCK died in 1988.)

Oppositionists hate CCK as the instigator of a harsh crackdown on dissent in the late 1970s and early '80s. The KMT reveres him as the figure who, by lifting martial law, kickstarted Taiwan's democratization, now a decade old and largely completed. To the generation of youths who have grown up in the more open society that has resulted, CCK's legacy probably means more than his pedigree.

-- By Laurence Eyton/Taipei

This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek home



U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

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