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Фаина Ипатьевна Вахрева
|Photo with Chiang Ching-kuo
(with Chiang outside the picture)
|First Lady of the Republic of China|
May 20, 1978 – January 13, 1988
|Preceded by||Soong May-ling|
|Succeeded by||Tseng Wen-hui|
|Born||May 15, 1916
near Orsha, Vitebsk Governorate, Russian Empire
|Died||December 15, 2004
|Children||Chiang Hsiao-wen, Chiang Hsiao-wu, Chiang Hsiao-yung (son) and Chiang Hsiao-chang (daughter)|
|Occupation||First Lady of the Republic of China|
Faina Chiang Fang-liang (simplified Chinese: 蒋方良; traditional Chinese: 蔣方良; pinyin: Jiǎng Fāngliáng; 15 May 1916 – 15 December 2004) was the wife of President Chiang Ching-kuo and served as First Lady of the Republic of China on Taiwan from 1978 to 1988.
Born Faina Ipat'evna Vakhreva (Russian: Фаина Ипатьевна Вахрева, Belarusian: Фаіна Іпацьеўна Вахрава, Fayina Ipaćjeŭna Vachrava) near Orsha, Vitebsk Governorate in a Belarusian family which moved to Yekaterinburg during World War I, she was orphaned at a young age and raised by her older sister Anna. A member of the Soviet Union's Communist Youth League, Vakhreva, at the age of 16, reported and worked for Chiang Ching-kuo at the Ural Heavy Machinery Plant. They married two years later on 15 March 1935. Chiang had been exiled to work in Siberia under direction from Stalin after his father, Chiang Kai-shek, had expelled the leftists from the Kuomintang (KMT). The couple's first child, a son originally named Èrik (Эрик) but better known by his Chinese name Hsiao-wen, was born on December 1935. The couple had two more sons, Hsiao-wu and Hsiao-yung, and a daughter, Hsiao-chang. All the rest of her children were born in different parts of China signifying turbulent years as an official of China.
In December 1936, Joseph Stalin finally granted Chiang's return to China. After the couple was received by Chiang Kai-shek and Soong May-ling in Hangzhou, they traveled to the Chiang home in Xikou, Zhejiang, where they held a second marriage ceremony. Chiang Fang-liang stayed behind to live with Chiang Ching-kuo's mother, Mao Fumei. She was assigned a tutor to learn Mandarin Chinese, but she learned the local Ningbo form of Wu Chinese instead. She reportedly got along well with Mao Fumei and did her own housework.
When Chiang Ching-kuo became President, Fang-liang rarely performed the traditional roles of First Lady. That is partly due to her lack of formal education; her husband also encouraged her not to get into politics. She largely stayed out of the public spotlight and little was ever known of her in an anti-communist atmosphere in the government. She never returned to Russia, and traveled abroad only three times in the last 50 years of her life, all to visit her children and their families. In 1992, she received a visit from a delegation including the mayor of Minsk, the capital of Belarus. It was the only time that she made contact with anyone from her homeland.
All her children were sent to study in foreign universities – Hsiao-Wen to West Point and Park College, MO, Hsiao-wu to Munich, West Germany and the remaining children to the United States. All three sons died shortly after Ching-kuo's death in 1988: Hsiao-wen in April 1989, Hsiao-wu in July 1991, and Hsiao-yung in December 1996. Fang-liang then lived in the suburbs of Taipei. She received occasional visitors, such as some prominent politicians who went to pay their respects every few years. In the Taiwanese media, if she ever received coverage, she was depicted as a virtuous wife who never complained and endured her loneliness with dignity.
She died of respiratory and cardiac failure stemming from lung cancer in the Taipei Veterans General Hospital at the age of 89 (or 90 according to East Asian age reckoning). Her funeral was held on 27 December 2004, with President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu in attendance. Kuomintang politicians Wang Jin-pyng, Lin Cheng-chih, P. K. Chiang, and Ma Ying-jeou draped her casket with the Kuomintang party flag and Kuomintang party elders Lee Huan, Hau Pei-tsun, Chiu Chuang-huan, and Shih Chi-yang draped her casket with the ROC national flag. She was cremated and her ashes taken to her husband's temporary mausoleum in Touliao, Taoyuan County. They are scheduled to be buried together in the Wuchih Mountain Military Cemetery. As of 2006[update], she is survived by her daughter Amy Hsiao-Chang who had emigrated to the United States. Hsiao-Chang is the only child who could speak her native Russian with her.
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