Friday, November 24, 2017

China's first lady Chiang Fang-liang began life in Yekaterinburg

Chiang Fang-liang became known to the world as the first lady of the Republic of China, but she started life as Faina Ipat'evna Vakhreva in Yekaterinburg.

Fang-liang was orphaned at a young age and was then raised by her sister Anna. At the age of 16, as a member of the Soviet Union's Communist Youth League, Fang-liang began working for Chiang Ching-kuo at the Ural Heavy Machinery Plant.

Fang-liang and Ching-kuo married two years later, welcoming a son named Erik, or Hsiao-wen, in December 1935. Two more sons, Hsiao-wu and Hsiao-yung, and a daughter, Hsiao-chang, followed.

In 1936, Chiang was allowed to return to China following years of exile. There, the couple was welcomed by his father, Chiang Kai-shek, as they traveled to the Chiang family home in Kixou, Zhejiang. Fang-liang lived at the family home, learning the local Ningbo form of Wu Chinese.

After Ching-kuo was named president, Fang-liang did not take the traditional first lady role, instead staying out of the public spotlight.

Fang-liang died of respiratory and cardiac failure as a result of lung cancer at the age of 88 in the Taipei Veterans General Hospital.