Madame Chiang Kai-shek

Political Figure

Born: 5 March 1897
Died: 23 October 2003
Birthplace: Shanghai, China (?)
Best known as: Wife of Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek

Name at birth: Soong Mei-ling

Born in China and educated in the United States, Soong Mei-ling married Chiang Kai-shek in 1927 and went on to become an internationally famous advocate for her husband's Chinese Nationalist government. Fluent in English and a student of Chinese culture, she was a goodwill ambassador and the popular partner of Generalissimo Chiang during the 1930s. During World War II she went on an international tour and spoke before the United States congress (1943) to drum up support for China's fight against Japan. Articulate and charismatic, her celebrity status was considered a key element in winning funds and weapons from the Allies (including airplanes -- Madame Chiang was key player in the Chinese air force). While exiled in Taiwan (1949-75), she was still considered one of the most politically important women in the world and continued her crusade for aid to China. After the generalissimo's death, Madame Chiang moved to New York City.

Extra credit: Her sister, Soong Ch'ing-ling, was married to Sun Yat-sen... When Madame Chiang was 103 years old, she had an exhibition of her paintings in New York.

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