Anna Chennault: ‘Steel butterfly’ who charmed US and China

To the Americans, she was a staunch anti-communist. But to the Chinese, she was a renowned war hero’s widow. And to the Taiwanese, she was a key lobbyist who ensured vital US support.

Born in 1923 in Beijing to well-educated and wealthy parents, she attended university in Hong Kong and later became a reporter for a Chinese news agency.

In 1944, she received the assignment that would change her life. She was sent to Kunming to interview US Maj Gen Claire Chennault, the leader of the Flying Tigers volunteer group of US pilots who battled against Japanese planes to protect China.

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