Soong May-ling (1897-2003), usually called Madame Chiang Kai-shek in the U.S., was the wife of Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek, (1887-1975). They married in 1920 and he came to power in China as the leader of the Nationalist or Kuomintang (KMT) party in the late 1920s.
Madame Chiang Kai-shek came from the very prominent Soong family that played a major role in 20th century China. She was educated in the U.S., graduating from Wellesley College in Massachusetts, and was an active Methodist. When she married Chiang in 1920, he converted to Christianity, an act that significantly helped the Christian movement in China. They had no children.
With her poise, her perfect English and her exotic charm, she campaigned endlessly to familiarize Americans with China. Christians who supported missionary work in China were especially attracted to her. She was often named by Americans as one of their ten "most admired" women in the world.
After the Nationalists were defeated by the Communists in 1949, she and her husband, along with the KMt government and army and many businessmen fled to Taiwan, where the KMT continued the Republic of China. When Chiang died in 1975, her stepson Chiang Ching-kuo became president.
- Li, Laura Tyson. Madame Chiang Kai-shek: China's Eternal First Lady (2007) excerpt and text search
- ↑ Soong was her family name; Chiang was his family name. Her first name was May-ling and his was Kai-shek. In Chinese, the family name is given first.