Kai-shek (October 31, 1887 – April 5, 1975) was a Chinese military
and political leader who assumed the leadership of the Kuomintang (KMT)
after the 1925 death of Sun Yat-sen. He led the national government
of the Republic of China from 1928 to 1975. He began his military education
at the Baoding Military Academy, in 1906, attended the Military State
Academy in Japan in 1907. Chiang Kai-shek served in the Imperial Japanese
Army from 1909 to 1911. He commanded the Northern Expedition to unify
China against the warlords and emerged victorious in 1928 as the overall
leader of the Republic of China (ROC). Chiang led China in the Second
Sino-Japanese War, during which Chiang's stature within China weakened,
but his international prominence grew. During the Chinese Civil War
(1927–1949), Chiang attempted to eradicate the Chinese Communists,
but ultimately failed, forcing his government to retreat to Taiwan,
where he continued serving as the President of the Republic of China
and Director-General of the KMT for the remainder of his life.
] Early life
Chiang Kai-shek was born in the town of Xikou, China, approximately
33 km (20.5 miles) southwest of downtown Ningbo, in Fenghua County,
Ningbo Prefecture, Zhejiang Province. However, his ancestral home, a
concept important in Chinese society, was the town of Heqiao (???) in
Yixing County, Wuxi Prefecture, Jiangsu Province (approximately 38 km
or 24 miles southwest of downtown Wuxi, and 10 km (6 miles) from the
shores of the famous Lake Taihu).
His parents were
Chiang Zhaocong (???) and Wang Caiyu (???), part of an upper-middle
class family of salt merchants. His father died when he was only three,
and he wrote of his mother as the "embodiment of Confucian virtues."
In an arranged marriage, Chiang was married to fellow villager Mao Fumei1.
Chiang and Mao had a son Ching-Kuo and a daughter Chien-hua (??).
Chiang grew up in
an era in which military defeats had left China destabilized and in
debt, and he decided to join the military. He began his military education
at the Baoding Military Academy, in 1906. He left for the Military State
Academy in Japan in 1907. There he was influenced by his compatriots
to support the revolutionary movement to overthrow the Qing Dynasty
and to set up a Chinese Republic. He befriended fellow Zhejiang native
Chen Qimei, and, in 1908, Chen brought Chiang into the Tongmenghui.
Chiang served in the Imperial Japanese Army from 1909 to 1911.
Rise to power
With the outbreak of the Wuchang Uprising, in 1911, Chiang Kai-shek
returned to China to fight in the revolution as an artillery officer.
He served in the revolutionary forces, leading a regiment in Shanghai
under his friend and mentor Chen Qimei. The revolution was ultimately
successful in overthrowing the Qing Dynasty and Chiang became a founding
member of the Kuomintang.
After takeover of
the Republican government by Yuan Shikai and the failed Second Revolution,
Chiang, like his Kuomintang comrades, divided his time between exile
in Japan and havens in Shanghai's foreign concession areas. In Shanghai,
Chiang also cultivated ties with the criminal underworld dominated by
the notorious Green Gang and its leader Du Yuesheng. Chiang had numerous
brushes with the law during this period and the International Concession
police records show an arrest warrant for him for armed robbery. On
February 15, 1912, Chiang Kai-shek shot and killed Tao Chengzhang, the
leader of the Restoration Society, at point-blank range as Tao lay sick
in a Shanghai French Concession hospital, thus ridding Chen Qimei of
his chief rival. On May 18, 1916, Chen Qimei was assassinated by agents
of Yuan Shikai and Chiang succeeded him as the leader of the Chinese
Revolutionary Party in Shanghai. This was during a low point in Sun
Yat-sen's career, with most of his old Revolutionary Alliance comrades
refusing to join him in the exiled Chinese Revolutionary Party, and
Chen Qimei having been Sun's chief lieutenant in the party.
Chiang Kai-shek was appointed by Sun Yat-sen as Commandant of the Whampoa
Military Academy.In 1917, Sun Yat-sen moved his base of operations to
Guangzhou and Chiang joined him in 1918. Sun, at the time was largely
sidelined and without arms or money, was soon expelled from Guangzhou,
in 1918, and exiled again to Shanghai, but restored again with mercenary
help in 1920. However, a rift had developed between Sun, who sought
to militarily unify China under the KMT, and Guangdong Governor Chen
Jiongming, who wanted to implement a federalist system with Guangdong
as a model province. On June 16, 1923, Chen attempted to expel Sun from
Guangzhou and had his residence shelled. Sun and his wife Soong May-ling
narrowly escaped under heavy machine gun fire and were rescued by gunboats
under the direction of Chiang Kai-shek. The incident earned in Chiang
Kai-shek the trust of Sun Yat-sen.
Sun regained control
in Guangzhou in early 1924 with the help of mercenaries from Yunnan,
and accepted aid from the Comintern. He then undertook a reform of the
Kuomintang and established a revolutionary government aimed at unifying
China under the KMT. That same year, Sun sent Chiang Kai-shek to spend
three months in Moscow studying the Soviet political and military system.
Chiang's eldest son, Ching-kuo, remained in Russia until 1937. Chiang
Kai-shek returned to Guangzhou and in 1924 was made Commandant of the
Whampoa Military Academy. The early years at Whampoa allowed Chiang
to cultivate a cadre of young officers loyal to him and, by 1925, Chiang's
proto-army was scoring victories against local rivals in Guangdong province.
Here he also first met and worked with a young Zhou Enlai, who was selected
to be Whampoa's Political Commissar. However, Chiang was deeply critical
of the Kuomintang-Communist Party United Front, suspicious that the
Communists would take over the KMT from within.
Throughout his rise
to power, Chiang Kai-Shek also benefitted from membership of the nationalist
Tiandihui fraternity, to which Sun Yat-Sen also belonged, and which
remained a source of support during his leadership of China and later
Succession of Sun Yat-Sen
Chiang Kai-shek in 1926, during the Northern Expedition.With Sun Yat-sen's
death in 1925, a power vacuum developed in the KMT. A power struggle
ensued between Chiang, who leaned towards the right wing of the KMT,
and Sun Yat-sen's close comrade-in-arms Wang Jingwei, who leaned towards
the left wing of the party. Though Chiang ranked relatively low in the
civilian hierarchy, and Wang had succeeded Sun to power as Chairman
of the National Government, Chiang's deft political maneuvering following
the Zhongshan Warship Incident eventually allowed him to emerge victorious.
Chiang, who became Commander-in-Chief of the National Revolutionary
Forces in 1925, launched in July 1926 the Northern Expedition, a military
campaign to defeat the warlords controlling northern China and unify
the country under the KMT.
The National Revolutionary
Army branched into three divisions—to the west, Wang Jingwei led
a column to take Wuhan; to the east, Bai Chongxi led another column
to take Shanghai; while Chiang led in the middle to take Nanjing—before
they were to press ahead to take Beijing. However, in January 1927,
allied with the Chinese Communists and Soviet Agent Mikhail Borodin,
Wang Jingwei and his KMT leftist allies having taken the city of Wuhan
amid much popular mobilization and fanfare, declared the National Government
to have moved to Wuhan. After taking Nanjing in March (and with Shanghai
under the control of his close ally General Bai), Chiang momentarily
halted his campaign and decided to break with the leftists.
On April 12, Chiang
began a swift and brutal attack on thousands of suspected Communists.
He then established his own National Government in Nanjing, supported
by his conservative allies (including Hu Hanmin. The communists were
purged from the KMT and the Soviet advisers were expelled. This earned
Chiang the support and financial backing of the Shanghai business community,
and maintained him the loyalty of his Whampoa officers (many of whom
hailed from Hunan elites were discontented by the land redistribution
Wang Jingwei was enacting in the area), but led to the beginning of
the Chinese Civil War. Wang Jingwei's National Government, though popular
with the masses, was weak militarily and was soon overtaken by a local
warlord, forcing Wang and his leftist government into joining him in
Nanjing. Finally, the warlord capital of Beijing was taken in June 1928
and in December, the Manchurian warlord Zhang Xueliang pledged allegiance
to Chiang's government.
Chiang made gestures
to cement himself as the successor of Sun Yat-sen. In a pairing of much
political significance, Chiang married, on December 1, 1927, Soong May-ling,
the younger sister of Soong Ching-ling (Sun Yat-sen's widow, whom he
had proposed to beforehand but by whom he had been swiftly rejected)
in Japan and thus positioned himself as Sun Yat-sen's brother-in-law.
(To please Soong's parents, Chiang had to first divorce his first wife
and concubines and promise eventually to convert to Christianity. He
was baptized in 1929.) Upon reaching Beijing, Chiang paid homage to
Sun Yat-sen and had his body moved to the capital Nanjing to be enshrined
in a grand mausoleum.
Tutelage over China
Chiang Kai-shek gained nominal control of China, but his party was too
weak to lead and too strong to be overthrown. In 1928, Chiang was named
Generalissimo of all Chinese forces and Chairman of the National Government,
a post he held until 1932 and later from 1943 until 1948. According
to Sun Yat-sen's plans, the Kuomintang was to rebuild China in three
steps: military rule, political tutelage, and finally constitutional
rule. The ultimate goal of the Kuomintang revolution was democratic
rule, which was not feasible in China's fragmented state. Since the
Kuomintang had completed the first step of the revolution through its
seizure of power in 1928, Chiang's rule thus began the period of political
tutelage under the dictatorship of the Kuomintang, to prepare China
for the final transitional to constitutional democracy. During this
period, many features of a modern, functional Chinese state emerged
The decade of 1928
to 1937 was one of consolidation and accomplishment for Chiang's government.
Some of the harsh aspects of foreign concessions and privileges in China
were moderated through diplomacy. The government acted energetically
to modernize the legal and penal systems, stabilize prices, amortize
debts, reform the banking and currency systems, build railroads and
highways, improve public health facilities, legislate against traffic
in narcotics, and augment industrial and agricultural production. Great
strides also were made in education and, in an effort to help unify
Chinese society—the New Life Movement was launched to stress Confucian
moral values and personal discipline. Standard Mandarin, then known
as Guoyu, was promoted as a standard tongue. The widespread establishment
of communications facilities further encouraged a sense of unity and
pride among the people.
however, were met with constant upheavals with need of further political
and military consolidation. Though much of the urban areas were now
under the control of his party, the countryside still lay under the
influence of severely weakened yet undefeated warlords and communists.
Chiang fought with most of his warlord allies, with one northern rebellion—against
the warlords Yen Hsi-shan and Feng Yuxiang—in 1930 during the
Central Plains War. It almost bankrupted the government and cost almost
250,000 casualties on both sides. When Hu Han-min established a rival
government in Guangzhou in 1931, Chiang's government was nearly toppled.
A complete eradication of the Communist Party of China eluded Chiang.
The Communists regrouped in Jiangxi and established the Chinese Soviet
Republic. Chiang's anti-communist stance attracted the aid of German
military advisers, and in Chiang's fifth campaign to defeat the Communists
in 1934, he surrounded the Red Army only to see the Communists escape
through the epic Long March to Yan'an.
Wartime leader of China
After Japan's invasion of Manchuria in 1931, Chiang resigned as Chairman
of the National Government. He returned shortly, adopting a slogan "first
internal pacification, then external resistance", which meant that
the government would first attempt to defeat the Communists before engaging
in the Japanese directly. But Japan's advance on Shanghai and bombardment
of Nanjing in 1932 disrupted Chiang Kai-shek's offensives against Communists.
Even though on the surface Chiang seemed more preoccupied with eradicating
the communists first, Chiang was preparing to fight an eventual showdown
with Japan. During the period from 1931 to the beginning of full-scale
war in 1937, the central government under Chiang worked assiduously
to expand and modernize its armed forces, build fortifications and communication
lines around the country, and develop a viable military industry capable
of supporting the war effort. All these war preparations required temporary
peace with Japan, which was precisely what Chiang sought in his policy.
Any premature act of war before the country was ready would likely spell
disaster for China. However, this policy of avoiding a frontal war was
In December 1936,
Chiang flew to Xi'an to coordinate a major assault on Red Army forces
holed up in Yan'an. However, Chiang's allied commander Chang Hsueh-liang,
whose forces were to be used in his attack and whose homeland of Manchuria
had been invaded by the Japanese, had other plans. On December 12, Chang
Hsueh-liang and several other Nationalist generals kidnapped Chiang
Kai-shek for two weeks in what is known as the Xi'an Incident. They
forced Chiang into making a "Second United Front" with the
Communists against Japan. Although the KMT and the CCP never cooperated
particularly well, this episode at least brought a halt to fratricidal
war and delineated several important areas of cooperation. The rising
tide of Chinese nationalism and the cessation of warfare against the
communists propelled Chiang Kai-shek in the pinnacle of his political
career. He was seen as the only leader capable of leading the nation
into a war against Japan.
and Madame Chiang Kai-shek with General Stilwell in Burma (1942).The
Second Sino-Japanese War broke out in July 1937. In August of the same
year, Chiang sent 500,000 of his best trained and equipped soldiers
to defend Shanghai. With about 200,000 Chinese casualties, Chiang lost
his political base of Whampoa-trained officers. Although Chiang lost
militarily, the battle dispelled Japanese claims that it could conquer
China in three months and demonstrated to the Western powers (which
occupied parts of the city and invested heavily in it) that the Chinese
would not surrender under intense Japanese fire. This was skillful diplomatic
maneuvering on the part of Chiang, who knew the city would eventually
fall, but wanted to make a strong gesture in order to secure Western
military aid for China. By December, the capital city of Nanjing had
fallen to the Japanese and Chiang moved the government inland to Chongqing.
Devoid of economic and industrial resources, Chiang could not counter-attack
and held off the rest of the war preserving whatever territory he still
controlled, though his strategy succeeded in stretching Japanese supply
lines and bogging down Japanese soldiers in the vast Chinese interior
who would otherwise have been sent to conquer southeast Asia and the
With the Attack
on Pearl Harbor and the opening of the Pacific War, China became one
of the Allied Powers. During and after World War II, Chiang and his
American-educated wife Soong May-ling, commonly referred to as "Madame
Chiang Kai-shek", held the unwavering support of the United States
China Lobby which saw in them the hope of a Christian and democratic
China. Chiang Kai-shek's policies were far from Christian or democratic,
but this remained unknown to the U.S. public due to strong state-imposed
censorship in China and self-imposed censorship in the U.S. during the
war years and after. This was especially fomented by the Chiangs' close
friendship with TIME magazine publisher Henry Luce.
Chiang Kai-shek, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill met at
the Cairo Conference in 1943 during World War II.Chiang's strategy during
the War opposed the strategies of both Mao Zedong and the United States.
The U.S. regarded Chiang as an important ally able to help shorten the
war by engaging the Japanese occupiers in China. Chiang, in contrast,
used powerful associates such as H. H. Kung in Hong Kong to build the
ROC army for certain conflict with the communist forces after the end
of World War II. This fact was not understood well in the United States.
The U.S. liaison officer, General Joseph Stilwell, correctly deduced
that Chiang's strategy was to accumulate munitions for future civil
war rather than fight the Japanese, but Stilwell was unable to convince
Franklin D. Roosevelt of this and precious Lend-Lease armaments continued
to be allocated to the Kuomintang. Chiang was recognized as one of the
"Big Four" Allied leaders along with Roosevelt, Churchill,
and Stalin and traveled to attend the Cairo Conference in November 1943.
His wife acted as his translator and adviser.
Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong met in the wartime capital of Chongqing,
to toast to the Chinese victory over Empire of Japan.When Japan surrendered
in 1945, Chiang's Chongqing government was ill-equipped to reassert
its authority in eastern China. It was able to reclaim the coastal cities
with American assistance, and sometimes that of former Japanese troops,
a deeply unpopular move. The countryside in the north was already largely
under the control of the Communists, whose forces were better motivated
and disciplined than those of the KMT.
Following the war,
the United States had encouraged peace talks between Chiang and Communist
leader Mao Zedong in Chongqing. Distrustful of each other and of the
United States' professed neutrality, they soon resorted to all-out war.
The U.S. suspended aid to Chiang Kai-shek for much of the period of
1946 to 1948, in the midst of fighting against the People's Liberation
Army led by Mao Zedong. Though Chiang had achieved status abroad as
a world leader, his government was deteriorating with corruption and
inflation. The war had severely weakened the Nationalists both in terms
of resources and popularity, while the Communists were strengthened
by aid from Stalin, and guerrilla organizations extending throughout
rural areas. The Nationalists initially had superiority in arms and
men, but their lack of popularity, poor morale, and apparent disorganization
soon allowed the Communists to gain the upper hand.
Meanwhile a new
Constitution promulgated in 1947, and Chiang Kai-shek was formally elected
by the National Assembly to be the first term President of the Republic
of China on May 20, 1948.Meanwhile a new Constitution promulgated in
1947, and Chiang was elected by the National Assembly to be President.
This marked the beginning of the 'democratic constitutional government'
period in KMT political orthodoxy, but the Communists refused to recognize
the new Constitution and its government as legitimate.
as President on January 21, 1949, as KMT forces suffered massive losses
against the communists. Vice President Li Tsung-jen took over as Acting
President, but his relationship with Chiang soon deteriorated, as Chiang
still acted as if he were in power, and Li was forced into exile in
the United States under a medical excuse (under Chiang's direction,
Li was later formally impeached by the Control Yuan). In the early morning
of December 10, 1949, Communist troops laid siege to Chengdu, the last
KMT occupied city in mainland China, where Chiang Kai-shek and his son
Chiang Ching-kuo directed the defense at the Chengdu Central Military
Academy. The aircraft May-ling evacuated them to Taiwan on the same
day, forever removing them from the Chinese mainland.
Presidency in Taiwan
Chiang moved the government to Taipei, Taiwan, where he formally resumed
his duties as president on March 1, 1950. Chiang was reelected by the
National Assembly to be the President of the ROC on May 20, 1954 and
again in 1960, 1966, and 1972. He continued, as the President of the
Republic of China, to claim sovereignty over all of China. In the context
of the Cold War, most of the Western world recognized this position
and the ROC represented China as a whole in the United Nations and other
international organizations until the 1970s.
Despite the democratic
constitution, the government under Chiang was a repressive, authoritarian,
single-party state consisting almost completely of
non-Taiwanese mainlanders; the "Temporary Provisions Effective
During the Period of Communist Rebellion" greatly enhanced executive
powers and the goal of "retaking the mainland" allowed the
KMT to maintain its monopoly on power and to outlaw opposition parties.
The government's official line for these martial law provisions stemmed
from the claim that emergency provisions were necessary, since the Communists
and KMT were still technically under a state of war, without any cease-fire
signed, after Chiang retreated to Taiwan. His government sought to impose
Chinese nationalism and, to some extent, repressed local culture, such
as forbidding the use of Taiwanese in mass media broadcasts or in schools.
The government permitted free debate within the confines of the legislature,
but jailed dissidents who were either labelled as supporters of Chinese
communism or Taiwan independence. His son, Chiang Ching-kuo, and Chiang
Ching-kuo's successor, Lee Teng-hui, would, in the 1980s and 1990s,
increase native Taiwanese representation in the government and loosen
the many authoritarian controls of the early ROC-on-Taiwan era.
Since new elections
could not be held in Communist-occupied constituencies, the National
Assembly, Legislative Yuan, and Control Yuan members held their posts
indefinitely. It was also under the Temporary Provisions that Chiang
was able to bypass term limits to remain as president. He was reelected
by the National Assembly as president four times - in 1954, 1960, 1966,
After losing the
mainland to the Communists, Chiang attempted to purge crookedness by
dismissing members of the KMT previously accused of corruption; major
figures in the previous mainland government such as H.H. Kung and T.V.
Soong exiled themselves to the United States. Though the government
was, to a large extent, politically authoritarian and controlled key
industries, it encouraged economic development, especially in the export
sector. A sweeping Land Reform Act, as well as American foreign aid
during the 1950s laid the foundation for Taiwan's economic success,
becoming one of the East Asian Tigers.
Death and legacy
Chiang's body was not buried in the traditional Chinese manner but entombed
in his former residence in Cihhu in respect for his wish to be buried
in his native Fenghua.In 1975, 26 years after Chiang fled to Taiwan,
he died in Taipei at the age of 87. He had suffered a major heart attack
and pneumonia in the months before and died from renal failure aggravated
with advanced cardiac malfunction at 23:50 on April 5.
A month of mourning
was declared during which the Taiwanese people were asked to put on
black armbands. Televisions ran in black-and-white while all banquets
or celebrations were postponed. On the mainland, however, Chiang's death
was met with little apparent mourning and Communist state-run newspapers
gave the brief headline "Chiang Kai-shek Has Died." Chiang's
corpse was put in a copper coffin and temporarily interred at his favorite
residence in Tzuhu (Cihu), Tahsi (Daxi), Taoyuan County. When his son
Chiang Ching-kuo died in 1988, he was also entombed in a separate mausoleum
in nearby Touliao (??). The hope was to have both buried at their birthplace
in Fenghua if and when the mainland was recovered. In 2004, Chiang Fang-liang,
the widow of Chiang Ching-kuo, asked that both father and son be buried
at Wuchih Mountain Military Cemetery in Hsichih, Taipei County. The
state funeral ceremony was originally scheduled for 2005 but has since
been repeatedly delayed; as of December 2006 his remains are still interred
at Cihu. Chiang Fang-liang and Soong May-ling had agreed in 1997 that
the former leaders be first buried but still be moved to mainland China
in the event of reunification.
The main vault
of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall contains a statue of Chiang Kai-shek.
It is under guard during daytime.Chiang was succeeded as President by
Vice President Yen Chia-kan and as KMT party leader by his son Chiang
Ching-kuo, who retired Chiang Kai-shek's title of Director-General and
instead assumed the position of Chairman. Yen Chia-kan's presidency
was mainly symbolic, with real power held by Premier Chiang Ching-kuo,
who became President after Yen's term ended three years later.
current popularity in Taiwan is sharply divided among political lines,
enjoying greater support among KMT voters and the mainlander population.
He is largely unpopular among DPP supporters and voters. Since the onset
of democracy in the 1990s, his portraits and statues have begun to disappear
from public buildings, schools and parks, many of the statues ending
up at Tzuhu. In sharp contrast to his son, Chiang Ching-kuo, and to
Dr. Sun Yat-sen, his memory is rarely invoked by current political parties,
including the Kuomintang.
In 1903, the 16-year-old
Chiang Kai-shek went to Ningbo to be a student, and he chose a "school
name" (??). This was actually the formal name of a person, used
by older people to address him, and the one he would use the most in
the first decades of his life (as the person grew older, younger generations
would have to use one of the courtesy names instead). (Colloquially,
the school name is called "big name" (??), whereas the "milk
name" is known as the "small name" (??).) The school
name that Chiang Kai-shek chose for himself was Zhiqing (?? - meaning
"purity of intentions"). For the next fifteen years or so,
Chiang Kai-shek was known as Jiang Zhiqing. This is the name under which
Sun Yat-sen knew him when Chiang joined the republicans in Guangzhou
in the 1910s.
In 1912, when Chiang
Kai-shek was in Japan, he started to use Jiang Jieshi (help•info)
(???) as a pen name for the articles that he published in a Chinese
magazine he founded (Voice of the Army - ??). Jieshi soon became his
courtesy name (?). Some think the name was chosen from the classic Chinese
book the Book of Changes; other note that the first character of his
courtesy name is also the first character of the courtesy name of his
brother and other male relatives on the same generation line, while
the second character of his courtesy name shi (? - meaning "stone")
suggests the second character of his "register name" tai (?
- the famous Mount Tai of China). Courtesy names in China often bore
a connection with the personal name of the person. As the courtesy name
is the name used by people of the same generation to address the person,
Chiang Kai-shek soon became known under this new name. (Jieshi is the
pinyin romanization of the name, based on Mandarin, but the common romanized
rendering is Kai-shek which is in Cantonese romanization. As the republicans
were based in Guangzhou (a Cantonese speaking area), Chiang Kai-shek
became known by Westerners under the Cantonese romanization of his courtesy
name, while the family name as known in English seems to be the Mandarin
pronunciation of his Chinese family name, transliterated in Wade-Giles).
In mainland China, Jiang Jieshi is the name under which he is commonly
The entrance to
Chiang's tombsite at Tzuhu (Cihu) uses the official posthumous rendering
of Chiang Kai-shek (from right to left): The President (space) Lord
Chiang Mausoleum.Sometime in 1917 or 1918, as Chiang became close to
Sun Yat-sen, he changed his name from Jiang Zhiqing to Jiang Zhongzheng
(???). By adopting the name Zhongzheng ("central uprightness"),
he was choosing a name very similar to the name of Sun Yat-sen, who
was (and still is) known among Chinese as Zhongshan (?? - meaning "central
mountain"), thus establishing a link between the two. The meaning
of uprightness, rectitude, or orthodoxy, implied by his name, also positioned
him as the legitimate heir of Sun Yat-sen and his ideas. Not surprisingly,
the Chinese Communists always rejected the use of this name, and it
is not well known in mainland China. However, it was readily accepted
by members of the Nationalist Party, and is the name under which Chiang
Kai-shek is still officially known in Taiwan. Often, the name is shortened
to Zhongzheng only (Chung-cheng in Wade-Giles), and passengers arriving
at the Taipei airport are greeted by signs in Chinese welcoming them
to the "Chung Cheng International Airport."
Similarly, the largest
monument in Taipei, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is officially
in Chinese called the "Chung Cheng Memorial Hall."
His name is also
written officially in Taiwan as "The Late President (space) Lord
Chiang" (??? ??), where the one-character-wide space known as nuo
tai shows respect; this practice has lost some popularity. However,
he is still known as Lord Chiang (??) (without the title or space),
along with the similarly positive name Chiang Chung Cheng(???), in Taiwan.
Chiang was also
nicknamed "the Gimo" (short for "Generalissimo")
by some English-speaking foreigners, especially by Americans during
World War II. Another English nickname, this one not very flattering,
was "Cash My Check".
the son of a wine merchant, was born in Fenghua, China, on 31st October
1887. His father died when he was a child leaving the family in extreme
poverty. He was sent to live with relatives but he ran away and joined
the provincial army.
Chiang was a good
soldier and he was eventually sent to the military academy in Paoting.
In 1907 he attended the Military State College in Tokyo. During this
period he became a supporter of Sun Yat-sen, the leader of the Kuomintang
(Nationalist Party). During the 1911 revolution Chiang led a regiment
that captured Shanghai. After the counter-revolution that followed,
Chiang returned to Japan.
With the help of
advisers from the Soviet Union the Kuomintang gradually increased its
power in China. In 1924 Chiang became head of the Whampoa Military Academy.
Sun Yat-sen died
on 12th March 1925. After a struggle with Wang Ching-Wei, Chiang eventually
emerged as the leader of the Kuomintang. He now carried out a purge
that eliminated the communists from the organization.
In 1926 Chiang commanded
the army which aimed to unify China. He defeated the communist army
and forced the survivors to make the famous Long March to Shensi in
North West China. Chiang eventually established a government in Nanjing.
Major financial reforms were carried out and the education system and
the road transport were both improved. Chiang also established the New
Life Movement in 1934 which reasserted traditional Confucian values
to combat communist ideas.
When the Japanese
Army invaded the heartland of China in 1937, Chiang was forced to move
his capital from Nanking to Chungking. He lost control of the coastal
regions and most of the major cities to Japan. In an effort to beat
the Japanese he agreed to collaborate with Mao Zedong and his communist
After the bombing
of Pearl Harbor, Chiang and his government received considerable financial
support from the United States. General Joseph Stilwell, head of American
Army Forces in China, Burma and India (CBI), disagreed with this policy,
arguing that Chiang was an inept leader and was ignorant of the fundamentals
of modern warfare. Stilwell was accused of being pro-communist and in
October 1944 Stilwell was recalled to the United States and was replaced
by General Albert Wedemeyer.
During the Second
World War the communist guerrilla forces were well led by Zhu De and
Lin Biao. As soon as the Japanese surrendered, Communist forces began
a war against the Nationalists. The communists gradually gained control
of the country and on 1st October, 1949, Mao Zedong announced the establishment
of People's Republic of China.
Chiang and the remnants
of his armed forces fled to Formosa (Taiwan). His autobiography, Summing
up at Seventy , was published in 1957. Chiang Kai-shek died on 5th April