James Soong

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James Soong Chu-yu (Chinese: 宋楚瑜; pinyin: Sòng Chǔyú; Wade–Giles: Sung Ch'u-yü; born March 16, 1942), is a politician in the Republic of China on Taiwan. He founded and chairs the People First Party, a smaller and more conservative party in the Kuomintang (KMT)-led Pan-Blue Coalition.

Born to a Kuomintang military family of Hunanese origin, Soong began his political career as a Secretary to Premier Chiang Ching-kuo and rose to prominence as Director-General of the Government Information Office from 1979 to 1984. Upon Chiang's death Soong was instrumental in silencing conservatives in the KMT from blocking the ascendancy of Lee Teng-hui as KMT leader. Soong was the only elected governor of Taiwan province from 1994 to 1998. He placed second in the 2000 presidential election; his independent candidacy split the pro-Chinese reunification vote between himself and the KMT candidate Lien Chan leading to the ascendency of Democratic Progressive Party candidate Chen Shui-bian. In the 2004 presidential election, he ran as vice president on the ticket of KMT chairman Lien Chan; they narrowly lost to Chen Shui-bian.

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Early life and education

Soong was born in Xiangtan, Hunan province in mainland China (also the home county of Mao Zedong). It is said his grandfather taught at the same school Mao attended. His father, Soong Ta, was a career military officer staunchly loyal to ROC President Chiang Kai-shek and rose to the rank of Major General in the Nationalist Army from an enlisted sailor. With the Nationalist defeat in the Chinese Civil War, the family fled to Taiwan in 1949. He earned his bachelor's degree in diplomacy from National Chengchi University in 1964.

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