CHAPTER SIX Hong Kong as Perceived from Taiwan
When I interviewed former Republic of China (Taiwan) President Chiang Ching-Kuo for The Washington Times at the Japanese-built Presidential Mansion Taipei in 1982, the leader touched upon exciting reforms he had in mind.
Exciting because he envisaged a gradual shift from his ruling Kuomintang Party's authoritarian control of every aspect the national life to a more democratic style whose exact shape could not be known. The process was set in motion when he lifted the Emergency Decrees before his death in 1988. He selected young leaders that would carry out his vision, drastically revamping policies Chiang had learned at the knee of his father, the late Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek.
Looking back over my notes from the period, I found official photographs in which I appeared with Chiang and two of the young men the President was counting on for the future.
They were then Director-General of the Government Information Office James C.Y.
Soong and then Presidential Spokesman and interpreter Ma Ying-Jeou.
Soong. With academic credentials from Berkeley and Georgetown, is now 57 and has just left the post of Governor of Taiwan, election for which he drew more votes than anyone in Taiwan ever has including President Lee Teng-Hui.
Ma, 48, with a degree from Harvard Law School, was Justice Minister 1993-96 and then startled the Asia political world with victory over pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party candidate Chen Shui-Bian for the Taipei mayor's seat in December 1998.
Soong, born on the mainland and Ma, born in Hong Kong of mainland parents, will be in the forefront of Taiwan's unfolding political script, including the next presidential election in March 2000.
Consider the context of the interview with Chiang in 1982:
The President's experience had been with authoritarian administration in China and also from his experience in the Soviet Union. Note the Leninist characteristics of much of the organizational structure of the Kuomintang.
Politically, Deng Xiaoping had his hands full on the mainland in the early 1980s, trying to stave off attacks on his hand-picked Premier Hu Yao-bang, who finally succumbed in 1987 just as another hand-picked heir Zhao Ziyang was to crash at Tiananmen in 1989.