The guest of honor Sunday night at a giant banquet celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Republic of China (Taiwan) ate light and left early.
That might be why retired two-star Gen. Chi-Liang "Paul" Hsueh has lasted a century.
"I left by 8 p.m. and didn't eat much it went on too long," said Hseuh, who's lived at senior housing in Sacramento's Chinatown for 20 years. "I go to bed by 8:30, eat no more than two scoops of rice, two pieces of meat and lots of vegetables."
He rises daily at 4:30 a.m. and has a breakfast of oatmeal. He always warms up with 20 minutes of tai chi and exercises for 40 minutes on a treadmill, Stairmaster and rowing machine.
"He walks faster than I do and I'm 61," said his son, Dallas attorney Robert Hsueh.
Both Paul Hsueh and Taiwan are 100 years old, according to the Chinese lunar calendar. "He actually was born Jan. 2, 1911," his son said.
Hseuh is considered one of the last living Kuomintang patriots who battled Chinese warlords, Chairman Mao's Communist forces and the Japanese Imperial Army, which in December 1937 slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Chinese and raped tens of thousands of women in what's known as the Rape of Nanking.
The diminutive general reflected on his life Monday at his fifth-floor I Street apartment. Hseuh remembered when Dr. Sun Yat-sen, founder of the Republic of China, spoke at his school in Canton in 1924. "I was excited," he said. "He was preaching the three principles – a government of the people, by the people and for the people."
He said Sun Yat-sen inspired him to become a doctor. He joined Sun's Nationalist Party, or KMT, in 1930 and ever since has remained a Republican – either in China, Taiwan or the United States. He said he voted for George Bush and later John McCain.
His older brother Yue Hsueh – who became a four-star general under Chiang Kai-shek – persuaded him to go to officer training school in Nanking.
Paul Hsueh remembers being trained by Chiang Kai-shek, a taskmaster who expected complete obedience. "My big brother was the one who chased the Communists on the Long March," he said of the famous 8,000-mile trek from Jiangxi west and north to Shaanxi province in 1934. That march made Mao Zedong's reputation as a leader.
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