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Chiang Kai-Shek and Soong Meiling: Asian Power Couple

Asia's first power couple dominated politics in China and were two of the most prominent non-westerners on the world scene for much of the early 20th century.

Rana Mitter argues that we can think about Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek and his wife Soong Meiling (Madame Chiang) as Asia's first power couple. They dominated politics in China and were two of the most prominent non-westerners on the world scene for much of the early twentieth century. Their greatest test would come in the years 1937 to 1945, when Chiang Kai-shek led China's phase of World War II, in which over ten million Chinese were killed. During these years, Chiang sat alongside FDR and Winston Churchill. But by Chiang's side was Soong Meiling, her husband's interpreter to the outside world, who spoke to both houses of Congress in Washington DC, only the second woman ever to do so. Chiang's army was defeated by Mao's Communists in 1949. But during the war years, Chiang and Soong Meiling were more visible than any other Asian politicians on the globe.
Chinese Characters is a series of 20 essays exploring Chinese history through the life stories of key personalities.
Producer: Ben Crighton
Researcher: Elizabeth Smith Rosser.

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14 minutes