Monday, August 28, 2006

Cheng Man-ch'ing: 1947 Thirteen Chapters, Chiang Kai-shek's Introduction

Strengthen and Build Both Mind and Body
to Comrade Man-ch'ing
Chiang Chung-Cheng

Chiang Kai-shek 蔣介石 (1887-1975) requires no introduction to the average reader. Cheng Man-ch'ing's relationship with Chiang most likely began after Cheng's 1941 marriage to Ting Wei-chuang, daughter of the first Air Marshall of the Republic. Cheng's staunch anti-communist, anti-Imperialist Japanese sentiments, together with his profound scholarship, was just the right mix the Generalissimo searched for to support his politcal and power base. First, to fight the War of Resistance against the Japanese, and later, to counter Mao Tse-tung's Cultural Revolution with his own Cultural Rennaisance.
During Cheng's early years in Taiwan, he would often accompany Chiang and his wife, Soong Mei-ling, on excursions to the countryside. Soong Mei-ling eventually asked Cheng to teach her his artistry in floral painting--Huang Chun-pi
黃君璧 became her landscape teacher.
Most of Chiang Kai-shek's calligraphy was written by a secretary of his, as is common with presidents, movie stars and the like. It is likely, however, due to Cheng's relationship with the "Gimo," that this calligraphy is authentic.
Today, Chiang Kai-shek is universally acknowledged as having been a ruthless, murdering, despot whose brutal repression and butchering of intellectuals and peasants virtually sealed the failure of the Kuomingtang government, the subsequent loss of its control over the mainland, the loss of its United Nation's seat, and its eventual demise over absolute control of Taiwan.
Cheng's friendship with the Chiang, whether prompted by political alligience or personal security, remains a subject for investigation.


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