TAIPEI -- China's ruling communist inner circle has sent condolences to the family of former Taiwanese first lady Madame Chiang Kai-shek, praising her as a patriot and "figure of influence" in modern China, official media said yesterday.
The message from Jia Qinglin, a member of the Communist Party Standing Committee, reflected the communists' complex relationship with the widow of the late Nationalist leader General Chiang Kai-shek, their onetime ally.
Taiwanese people also have expressed divided reactions to Madame Chiang, who died Thursday at her home in New York City at age 105. She lived in Manhattan for the past three decades in semi-isolation, suffering from cancer and other illnesses.
At a Taipei women's foundation created by Madame Chiang, mourners bowed before a gold-framed portrait of her. The picture, showing the smiling woman in a traditional Chinese dress, was set on a mantle covered with chrysanthemums and other white flowers. White is the color of mourning in Chinese tradition.
Many elderly Taiwanese have fond memories of Madame Chiang, also known as Soong Mei-Ling. They consider her a patriot who used her fluent English to drum up foreign support for her husband's Nationalist government.