Chiang Ching-kuo (jyäng jĭng-gwô) [key], 1909–88, eldest son of Chiang Kai-shek, Chinese Nationalist leader, and president of Taiwan. Returning after 12 years in the Soviet Union (1937), he served in minor Chinese government posts until the Nationalist retreat to Taiwan (1949). Afterward he rose to control the armed forces, the intelligence agencies, and became powerful within the Kuomintang party. He was defense minister (1965–72) and premier (1972–78) before becoming president in 1978, a post he held until his death. In his last years he oversaw significant democratization in Taiwan.