Introduction to the 1958 Diary

By Yixiao Zheng

Fu Bingchang began writing the 1958 diary from 22nd September, shortly after taking up the position as the Vice President of the Judicial Yuan in June. Earlier in the same year, Fu was appointed Chief Commissioner of the Commission of the Disciplinary Sanctions of Functionaries, the National Policy Adviser to the President and a member of the KMT Central Advisory Committee. This diary therefore provides a valuable record of Fu Bingchang’s life after his reinstatement in public service during his semi-retirement years in Taiwan.


For instance, Fu’s accounts provides a fascinating snapshot of the political situation of the Nationalist government in Taiwan in the late 1950s. Readers could find some interesting personal observations on issues pertaining to the political dynamics of the speculation about a third presidential term for Chiang Kai-shek, the circumstances surrounding the ongoing reform of the judicial system, the somewhat difficult relationship between the Judicial Yuan and the ombudsmen of the Control Yuan, and the functioning of the Commission of the Disciplinary Sanctions of Functionaries. Some of the diary entries show that, by his friend Zhu Jiahua, Fu was a staunch anti-Communist completely unswayed by the propaganda of the Chinese Communists.


Though no longer in the foreign policy establishment, as a foreign policy veteran, Fu continued to write about his thinking on foreign affairs from time to time. In this diary, Fu recorded his observations about some of the major developments in KMT regime’s diplomatic relations and strategic issues in 1958. Among those diary entries, highlights include his accounts of the developments concerning the Kinmen bombardment during the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, the diplomatic circumstances surrounding the signing of the joint statement between the Nationalist government and the Eisenhower administration, the R.O.C. diplomacy vis-a-vis France and the Vatican, as well as his reflections on Soviet Russia.


The diary also offers a remarkable view of Fu’s personal life. He was a trusted and sympathetic confidant and a source of wise counsel for his friends, colleagues and former subordinates from the foreign policy establishment. As a popular politician, Fu’s daily schedule was packed with banquets and receptions of all kinds, private and business. The diary records his struggle with diabetes as well as his penchant for night-club concert, drama, photography, and evening walk. Fu’s family life does not feature in this diary, but the diary shows that he seemed to enjoy a close relationship with his tenth sister and felt rather disheartened by the circumstances surrounding his wife’s life and his son’s marriage in England; but family life by and large does not feature prominently in this diary. Fu moved into his new official mansion on 20 December 1958.