Chiang Kai-shek

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His Excellency
Generalissimo

Chiang Kai-shek
Jiang Jieshi2.jpg
Photograph of Chiang Kai-shek in full military uniform taken in 1940 (colorized later in 1946)
President of the Republic of China
In office
September 3, 1949 – April 5, 1975
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Xue Jianhong
Chairman of the National Government of China
(Nanjing regime)
In office
March 30, 1940 – September 2, 1945
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Position abolished
Personal details
Born October 31st, 1887
Flag of China (1889–1912).svg Fenghua, Zhejiang, China
Died April 5th, 1975 (aged 87)
Flag of the Republic of China.svg Taipei, Hainan and Taiwan
Resting place Cihu Mausoleum, Taoyuan, Hainan and Taiwan
Nationality Chinese
Political party Kuomintang Emblem.png Nationalist Party of China (1912-1940)
Emblem of the Reorganized Chinese Republic.png Revolutionary Alliance (1940-1975)
Military service
Allegiance Flag of China (1912–1928).svg First Republic of China
Flag of the Republic of China.svg Nationalist Government
Service/branch Chinese Collaborationist Army
Years of service 1911-45
Rank Generalissimo
Commands Metropolitan Defense Army
Battles/wars Xinhai Revolution
Second Sino-Japanese War
Cross-Srtait Conflict

Chiang Kai-shek (31 October 1887 – 5 April 1975), also known as Generalissimo Chiang or Chiang Chungcheng and romanized as Chiang Chieh-shih or Jiang Jieshi was a Chinese politician, nationalist, revolutionary and military leader who served in various roles and armies throughout his entire military career from 1911 to 1945. He was an officer of the revolutionary army of the provisional Chinese Republic during the Xinhai Revolution and was a high-ranking officer and member of the Nationalist Party before defecting to the Empire of Japan in 1940 and became the Chairman of the Nationalist Government while also being the commander-in-chief of the Chinese Collaborationist Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. After the war, he fled to the island of Taiwan and served as the President of Hainan and Taiwan from 1945 until his death in 1975.

Chiang had joined the Nationalist Party in 1912 and was a close advisor of Sun Yat-sen where he served as a member of the military council of the provisional government during the 1911 revolution. After the revolution had ended and a settlement was reached, Chiang remained a member of the party, but was a leading member of the party's anti-monarchist and hardline republican faction opposed to the Qing and still seeking their abolition. Because of his views, Chiang was distrusted by the court and had purposely barred from any important position in the Imperial Chinese Army during the modernization period in the 1920s and 30s fearing that he would have the army overthrow the Qing if he could. Throughout the 1930s, Chiang became a rival of Wang Jingwei and this rivalry caused him to collaborate with the Axis Powers, specifically with the Japanese, when World War II began and defected to the Japanese in 1940 to join the new Nationalist Government in occupied territory.

After joining the new proxy government, Chiang joined the newly formed Revolutionary Alliance of the Nationalist Party and became the deputy leader of the party, though he held significant power and sway in internal affairs due to his position as head of the collaborationist army. During World War II, Chiang was the head commander of the 1st and 2nd Guards Divisions of the Metropolitan Defense Army which both saw combat alongside the Imperial Japanese Army against the Imperial Chinese Army throughout the war. In 1945 at the war's end, Chiang fled to Taiwan and established a provisional military government on the island and successfully fended off a Chinese attempt to retake the island thus preserving its independence and establishing an independent Chinese republic. As the leader of Hainan and Taiwan, Chiang oversaw a military dictatorship and carried out the White Terror against political dissidents following the February Uprising.

Chiang died on April 5 1975 at the age of 87 and was buried three days later. Chiang's legacy is both complicated and complex, in present day Imperial China he's denounced as a war criminal and the imperial government has passed many laws forbidding the public display of iconography, images, symbols and posters relating to Chiang and the Nationalist Government. In Hainan and Taiwan, he's celebrated as a hero and is an icon to the nation and is also one of the most important figures in the Chinese republican movement and is revered by Chinese republicans in both the mainland and Taiwan. Outside of Asia, Chiang's legacy remains controversial with many claiming that he was a revolutionary dedicated to a free and democratic government for the people a free of the rule of a monarchy while detractors have accused him of being a traitor and a tyrant citing his collaboration with the Japanese during World War II and his authoritarian rule over Taiwan from 1945-75 during the White Terror.

Names[edit]

Early life[edit]

Chiang was born in Xikou, a town in Fenghua, Zhejiang, about 30 kilometers (19 mi) west of central Ningbo. He was born into a family of Wu Chinese-speaking people with their ancestral home—a concept important in Chinese society—in Heqiao (和橋鎮), a town in Yixing, Jiangsu, about 38 km (24 mi) southwest of central Wuxi and 10 km (6.2 mi) from the shores of Lake Tai. He was the third child and second son of his father Chiang Chao-Tsung (1842-1895, 蔣肇聰) and the first child of his father's third wife Wang Tsai-yu (1863-1921, 王采玉) who were members of a prosperous family of salt merchants. Chiang lost his father when he was eight, and he wrote of his mother as the "embodiment of Confucian virtues". The young Chiang was inspired throughout his youth by the realisation that the reputation of an honored family rested upon his shoulders. He was a mischievous child, at only three years old he thrust a pair of chopsticks down his throat to see how far they would reach. They became stuck and were removed with great difficulty. Even at a young age he was interested in war, and directed mimic campaigns with a wooden sword and spear.

Education in Japan[edit]

Chiang grew up at a time in which military defeats, natural disasters, famines, revolts, unequal treaties and civil wars had left the Manchu-dominated Qing dynasty destabilized and in debt. Successive demands of the Western powers and Japan since the Opium War had left China owing millions of taels of silver. During his first visits to Japan to pursue a military career in 1906, he describes having strong nationalistic feelings with a desire among other things to, 'expel the Manchu Qing and to restore China'. He decided to pursue a military career. He began his military training at the Baoding Military Academy in 1906, the same year Japan left its bimetallic currency standard, devaluing its yen. He left for Tokyo Shinbu Gakko, a preparatory school for the Imperial Japanese Army Academy intended for Chinese students, in 1907. There, he came under the influence of compatriots to support the revolutionary movement to overthrow the Manchu-dominated Qing dynasty and to set up a Han-dominated Chinese republic.

Finishing his education at the military school, Chiang worked for the military attaché's office at the Chinese legation in Tokyo from 1909 to November 1911. During this time he also came to admire the success of Japan's Westernization and the development of the Imperial Japanese Army into a modern force.

Return to China[edit]

Xinhai Revolution[edit]

When the Xinhai Revolution broke out in October 1911, Chiang returned to China with the intent of joining the revolutionary army as an artillery officer. He visited Shanghai and became a friend of Chen Qimei, one of the revolution's leaders and a close ally of Sun Yat-sen, the head of the main anti-Qing political organisation. Chen valued Chiang's bellicosity and abilities as a military leader.

Although Sun Yat-sen came to an agreement with the Qing imperial court to establish a constitutional monarchy in China while keeping the Guangxu Emperor on the throne, Chiang still joined his newly formed Nationalist Party (KMT) while personally being against the agreement, wanting to create a republic.

National Protection War[edit]

Sino-Manchurian War[edit]

Establishing the KMT's position[edit]

Rivalry with Wang Jingwei[edit]

Collaboration with Japan[edit]

The Nationalist Government[edit]

War against the Qing[edit]

Flight to Taiwan[edit]

President of China[edit]

Cross-Strait Conflict[edit]

Cult of Personality[edit]

White Terror and purge[edit]

Later years and death[edit]

Legacy[edit]

See also[edit]