Chiang Kai-shek(蔣中正).jpg

In office
August 1, 1943 – May 20, 1948
Acting until October 10, 1943
Premier Soong Tse-ven
Vice Chairman Sun Fo
Preceded by Lin Sen
Succeeded by Himself (as President of the Republic of China)
In office
October 10, 1928 – December 15, 1931
Premier Tan Yankai
Soong Tse-ven
Preceded by Tan Yankai
Succeeded by Lin Sen

In office
December 15, 1931 – May 31, 1946
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Position abolished

In office
March 1, 1950 – April 5, 1975
Premier Yen Hsi-shan
Chen Cheng
Yu Hung-Chun
Chen Cheng
Yen Chia-kan
Chiang Ching-kuo
Vice President Li Zongren
Chen Cheng
Yen Chia-kan
Preceded by Li Zongren (Acting)
Succeeded by Yen Chia-kan
In office
May 20, 1948 – January 21, 1949
Premier Chang Chun
Wong Wen-hao
Sun Fo
Vice President Li Zongren
Preceded by Himself (as Chairman of the National Government of China)
Succeeded by Li Zongren (Acting)

In office
March 1, 1947 – April 18, 1947
Preceded by Soong Tse-ven
Succeeded by Chang Chun
In office
November 20, 1939 – May 31, 1945
President Lin Sen
Preceded by Hsiang-hsi Kung
Succeeded by Soong Tse-ven
In office
December 9, 1935 – January 1, 1938
President Lin Sen
Preceded by Wang Jingwei
Succeeded by Hsiang-hsi Kung
Deputy Wang Jingwei
Chen Cheng

Born October 31, 1887(1887-10-31)
Fenghua, Zhejiang
Died April 5, 1975 (aged 87)
Taipei, Taiwan
Resting place Cihu Mausoleum, Taoyuan, Taiwan
Nationality Republic of China
Political party Kuomintang
Spouse Mao Fumei
Yao Yecheng
Chen Jieru
Soong Mei-ling
Children Chiang Ching-kuo
Chiang Wei-kuo (adopted)
Alma mater Baoding Military Academy, Imperial Japanese Army Academy Preparatory School
Signature Chiang Kaishek Signature
Military service
Nickname(s) "Generalissimo"or "Red General"[1]
Allegiance Kuomintang
Service/branch Republic of China Army
Years of service 1911–1975
Rank General Special Class (特級上將)
Battles/wars Xinhai Revolution, Northern Expedition, Sino-Tibetan War, Kumul Rebellion, Soviet Invasion of Xinjiang, Chinese Civil War, Second Sino-Japanese War, Kuomintang Islamic Insurgency in China (1950–1958)
Awards Order of National Glory, Order of Blue Sky and White Sun, 1st class Order of the Sacred Tripod, Legion of Merit

Chiang Kai-shek (/ˈæŋ kˈʃɛk, iˈɑːŋ/;[2] 31 October 1887 – 5 April 1975), also romanized as Chiang Chieh-shih or Jiang Jieshi and known as Chiang Chungcheng, was a political and military leader who served as the leader of the Republic of China between 1928 and 1975, first in mainland China until 1949 and then in exile in Taiwan. He was recognized by much of the world as the head of the legitimate government of China until the late 1960s and early 1970s. He was the longest-ruling non-royal leader of China, having ruled for 48 years.

Chiang was an influential member of the Kuomintang (KMT), the Chinese Nationalist Party, as well as a close ally of Sun Yat-sen's. Chiang became the Commandant of the Kuomintang's Whampoa Military Academy and took Sun's place as leader of the KMT following the Canton Coup in early 1926. Having neutralized the party's left wing, Chiang then led Sun's long-postponed Northern Expedition, conquering or reaching accommodations with China's many warlords.[3]

From 1928 to 1948, Chiang served as chairman of the National Government of the Republic of China (ROC). Chiang was socially conservative, promoting traditional Chinese culture in the New Life Movement. Unable to maintain Sun's good relations with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Chiang purged them in a massacre at Shanghai and repressed uprisings at Kwangtung and elsewhere.

At the onset of the Second Sino-Japanese War, which later became the Chinese theater of World War II, Zhang Xueliang kidnapped Chiang and obliged him to establish a Second United Front with the CCP. After the defeat of the Japanese, the American-sponsored Marshall Mission, an attempt to negotiate a coalition government, failed in 1946. The Chinese Civil War resumed, with the CCP led by Mao Zedong defeating the KMT and declaring the People's Republic of China in 1949. Chiang's government and army retreated to Taiwan, where Chiang imposed martial law and persecuted critics in a period known as the "White Terror". After evacuating to Taiwan, Chiang's government continued to declare its intention to retake mainland China. Chiang ruled Taiwan securely as President of the Republic of China and General of the Kuomintang until his death in 1975, just one year short of Mao's death.[4]

Like Mao, Chiang is regarded as a controversial figure. Supporters credit him with playing a major part in the Allied victory of World War II and unifying the nation and a national figure of the Chinese resistance against Japan as well as his staunch anti-Soviet and anti-communist stance. Detractors and critics denounce him as a dictator at the front of an authoritarian autocracy who suppressed and purged opponents and critics and arbitrarily incarcerated those he deemed as opposing to the Kuomintang among others.


Like many other Chinese historical figures, Chiang used several names throughout his life. That inscribed in the genealogical records of his family is Jiang Zhoutai (traditional Chinese: 蔣周泰Wade-Giles: Chiang Chou-t‘ai). This so-called "register name" (譜名) is the one under which his extended relatives knew him, and the one he used in formal occasions, such as when he got married. In deference to tradition, family members did not use the register name in conversation with people outside of the family. The concept of a "real" or original name is not as clear-cut in China as it is in the Western world.

In honor of tradition, Chinese families waited a number of years before officially naming their children. In the meantime, they used a "milk name" (乳名), given to the infant shortly after his birth and known only to the close family, thus the actual name that Chiang received at birth was Jiang Ruiyuan (traditional Chinese: 蔣瑞元Wade-Giles: Chiang Jui-yuan).

In 1903, the 16-year-old Chiang went to Ningbo to be a student, and he chose a "school name" (學名). 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" (大名), whereas the "milk name" is known as the "small name" (小名). The school name that Chiang chose for himself was Zhiqing (Chinese: 志清Wade-Giles: Chi-ch‘ing, which means "purity of intentions"). For the next fifteen years or so, Chiang was known as Jiang Zhiqing (Wade-Giles: Chiang Chi-ch‘ing). This is the name under which Sun Yat-sen knew him when Chiang joined the republicans in Kwangtung in the 1910s.

In 1912, when Jiang Zhiqing was in Japan, he started to use the name Chiang Kai-shek (Chinese: 蔣介石; Pinyin: Loudspeaker Jiang Jieshi ; Wade-Giles: Chiang Chieh-shih) as a pen name for the articles that he published in a Chinese magazine he founded: Voice of the Army (Chinese: 軍聲). Jieshi is the Pinyin romanization of this name, based on Mandarin, but the most recognized romanized rendering is Kai-shek which is in Cantonese romanization. As the republicans were based in Canton (a Cantonese speaking area, now commonly known as Guangdong province), Chiang 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.

"Kai-shek"/"Jieshi" soon became Chiang's courtesy name (字). Some think the name was chosen from the classic Chinese book the I Ching; "介于石", "[he who is] firm as a rock", is the beginning of line 2 of Hexagram 16, "豫". Others 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 (石—meaning "stone") suggests the second character of his "register name" tai (泰—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 soon became known under this new name.

Sometime in 1917 or 1918, as Chiang became close to Sun Yat-sen, he changed his name from Jiang Zhiqing to Jiang Zhongzheng (Chinese: 蔣中正Wade-Giles: Chiang Chung-cheng). By adopting the name Chung-cheng ("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 (中山—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 Chinese Nationalist Party and is the name under which Chiang Kai-shek is still commonly known in Taiwan. Often the name is shortened to "Chung-cheng" only ("Zhongzheng" in Pinyin). Many public places in Taiwan are named Chungcheng after Chiang. For many years passengers arriving at the Chiang Kai-shek International Airport were greeted by signs in Chinese welcoming them to the "Chung Cheng International Airport". Similarly, the monument erected to Chiang's memory in Taipei, known in English as Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, was literally named "Chung Cheng Memorial Hall" in Chinese. In Singapore, Chung Cheng High School was named after him.

His name is also written in Taiwan as "The Late President Lord Chiang" (先總統 蔣公), where the one-character-wide space known as nuo tai shows respect, but this practice has lost some popularity. However, he is still known as Lord Chiang (蔣公) (without the title or space), along with the name Chiang Chung-cheng, in Taiwan.

Early life Edit

Chiang was born in Xikou, a town in Fenghua, Zhejiang, about 30 kilometers (19 mi) west of central Ningbo. His family's ancestral home—a concept important in Chinese society—was Heqiao (和橋), 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. His father Jiang Zhaocong () and mother Wang Caiyu () 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. As he grew older, Chiang became more aware of the issues that surrounded him and in his speech to the Kuomintang in 1945 said:

As you all know I was an orphan boy in a poor family. Deprived of any protection after the death of her husband, my mother was exposed to the most ruthless exploitation by neighbouring ruffians and the local gentry. The efforts she made in fighting against the intrigues of these family intruders certainly endowed her child, brought up in such environment, with an indomitable spirit to fight for justice. I felt throughout my childhood that mother and I were fighting a helpless lone war. We were alone in a desert, no available or possible assistance could we look forward to. But our determination was never shaken, nor hope abandoned.[5]

Education in JapanEdit

Chiang grew up at a time in which military defeats, natural disasters, revolts, and the machinationsTemplate:POV statement of the empress dowager Cixi had left the Manchu-dominated Qing Empire 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".[6] 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 Qing and to set up a Han-dominated Chinese republic. He befriended fellow Zhejiangese Chen Qimei, and in 1908 Chen brought Chiang into the Tongmenghui, an important revolutionary brotherhood of the era. Finishing his schooling, Chiang served in the Imperial Japanese Army from 1909 to 1911.

Return to ChinaEdit

After learning of the outbreak (October 1911) of the Wuchang Uprising, Chiang returned to China in 1911, intending to fight as an artillery officer. He served in the revolutionary forces, leading a regiment in Shanghai under his friend and mentor Chen Qimei, as one of Chen's chief lieutenants. In early 1912 a dispute arose between Chen and Tao Chen-chang, an influential member of the Revolutionary Alliance who opposed both Sun Yat-sen and Chen. Tao sought to avoid escalating the quarrel by hiding in a hospital but Chiang discovered him there. Chen dispatched assassins. Chiang may not have taken part in the act, but would later assume responsibility to help Chen avoid trouble. Chen valued Chiang despite Chiang's already legendary temper, regarding such bellicosity as useful in a military leader.[7] Alternatively, Professor Pichon Loh reports that Chiang may have killed Tao in the hospital with a pistol.[8]Template:Qn

Chiang's friendship with Chen Qimei signaled an association with Shanghai's criminal syndicate (the Green Gang headed by Du Yuesheng and Huang Jinrong). During Chiang's time in Shanghai, the British-administered Shanghai International Settlement police watched him and charged him with various felonies. These charges never resulted in a trial, and Chiang was never jailed.[9]

Chiang became a founding member of the KMT after the success (February 1912) of the 1911 Revolution. After the takeover of the Republican government by Yuan Shikai and the failed Second Revolution in 1913, Chiang, like his KMT comrades, divided his time between exile in Japan and the havens of the Shanghai International Settlement. In Shanghai, Chiang cultivated ties with the city's underworld gangs, which were dominated by the notorious Green Gang and its leader Du Yuesheng. On 18 May 1916, agents of Yuan Shikai assassinated Chen Qimei. Chiang then succeeded Chen as leader of the Chinese Revolutionary Party in Shanghai. Sun Yat-sen's political career reached its lowest point during this time when most of his old Revolutionary Alliance comrades refused to join him in the exiled Chinese Revolutionary Party.[10]

Establishment of the KuomintangEdit

Chiang Kai-shek-young

Chiang, early 1920s

In 1917, Sun Yat-sen moved his base of operations to Canton (now known as Guangzhou), and Chiang joined him in 1918. At this time Sun remained largely sidelined; and, without arms or money, was soon expelled from Kwangtung and exiled again to Shanghai. He was restored to Kwangtung with mercenary help in 1920. After returning to Kwangtung, a rift 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 16 June 1922, Ye Ju, a general of Chen's whom Sun had attempted to exile, led an assault of Kwangtung's Presidential Palace.[11] Sun had already fled to the naval yardTemplate:Sfnp and boarded the SS Haiqi,[12] but his wife narrowly evaded shelling and rifle fire as she fled.Template:Sfnp They met on the SS Yongfeng, where they were joined—as swiftly as he could return from Shanghai, where he was ritually mourning his mother's death—by Chiang.[13] For about 50 days,[14] Chiang stayed with Sun, protecting and caring for him and earning his lasting trust. They abandoned their attacks on Chen on August 9, taking a British ship to Hong Kong[13] and traveling to Shanghai by steamer.[14]

Sun regained control of Kwangtung in early 1923, again with the help of mercenaries from Yunnan and from the Comintern. Undertaking a reform of the KMT, he established a revolutionary government aimed at unifying China under the KMT. That same year, Sun sent Chiang to spend three months in Moscow studying the Soviet political and military system. During his trip in Russia, Chiang met Leon Trotsky and other Soviet leaders, but quickly came to the conclusion that the Russian model of government was not suitable for China. Chiang later sent his eldest son, Ching-kuo, to study in Russia. After his father's split from the First United Front in 1927, Ching-kuo was forced to stay there, as a hostage, until 1937. Chiang wrote in his diary, "It is not worth it to sacrifice the interest of the country for the sake of my son."[15][16] Chiang even refused to negotiate a prisoner swap for his son in exchange for the Chinese Communist Party leader.[17] His attitude remained consistent, and he continued to maintain, by 1937, that "I would rather have no offspring than sacrifice our nation's interests." Chiang had absolutely no intention of ceasing the war against the Communists.[18]

Chiang Kai-shek returned to Kwangtung and in 1924 was appointed Commandant of the Whampoa Military Academy by Sun. Chiang resigned from the office for one month in disagreement with Sun's extremely close cooperation with the Comintern, but returned at Sun's demand. The early years at Whampoa allowed Chiang to cultivate a cadre of young officers loyal to both the KMT and himself.

Throughout his rise to power, Chiang also benefited from membership within the nationalist Tiandihui fraternity, to which Sun Yat-sen also belonged, and which remained a source of support during his leadership of the Kuomintang.


CKS Memorial Square

Memorial Hall and Square in Taipei

In 1975, 26 years after Chiang came to Taiwan, he died in Taipei at the age of 87. He had suffered a heart attack and pneumonia in the foregoing months and died from renal failure aggravated with advanced cardiac malfunction on April 5.

A month of mourning was declared. Chinese music composer Hwang Yau-tai wrote the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Song. In mainland China, 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 body was put in a copper coffin and temporarily interred at his favorite residence in Cihu, Daxi, Taoyuan. When his son Chiang Ching-kuo died in 1988, he was entombed in a separate mausoleum in nearby Touliao (頭寮). The hope was to have both buried at their birthplace in Fenghua if and when it was possible. In 2004, Chiang Fang-liang, the widow of Chiang Ching-kuo, asked that both father and son be buried at Wuzhi Mountain Military Cemetery in Xizhi, Taipei County (now New Taipei City). Chiang's ultimate funeral ceremony became a political battle between the wishes of the state and the wishes of his family.

Chiang was succeeded as President by Vice President Yen Chia-kan and as Kuomintang party ruler by his son Chiang Ching-kuo, who retired Chiang Kai-shek's title of Director-General and instead assumed the position of Chairman. Yen's presidency was interim; Chiang Ching-kuo, who was the Premier, became President after Yen's term ended three years later.


  1. Pakula, Hannah (2009). The last empress: Madame Chiang Kai-Shek and the birth of modern China. Simon and Schuster. p. 346. ISBN 1-4391-4893-7. Retrieved on June 28, 2010. 
  2. "Chiang Kai-shek". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
  3. Zarrow, Peter Gue (2005). China in War and Revolution, 1895–1949. pp. 230–231. 
  4. Will of Chiang Kai-shek at Wikisource.
  5. Tong, Hollington K. (1953). Chiang Kai-Shek. China Publishing Company. p. 5. 
  7. Taylor 2009, pp. 24, 31
  8. Loh, Pichon (1971). The Early Chiang Kai-shek. Columbia University Press. p. 27. 
  9. Loh 1971, pp. 20, 133.
  10. Taylor 2009, pp. 25–26
  11. Chan, Anthony B. (2010), Arming the Chinese: The Western Armaments Trade in Warlord China, 1920–1928, Vancouver: UBC Press .
  12. Dreyer, Edward L. (1995), China at War, 1901–1941, Abingdon: Routledge, .
  13. 13.0 13.1 Biographical Dictionary of Republican China, Vol. III', "Chiang Kai-shek", p. 322 .
  14. 14.0 14.1 Ships of China, Jingdao Chuban Youxian Gongsi, 1988 . (Chinese)Template:Nbsp& (English)
  15. Jay Taylor (2000). The Generalissimo's son: Chiang Ching-kuo and the revolutions in China and Taiwan. Harvard University Press. p. 59. ISBN 0-674-00287-3. Retrieved on June 28, 2010. 
  16. Fenby, Jonathan (2005). Chiang Kai Shek: China's Generalissimo and the Nation He Lost. Carroll & Graf Publishers. p. 205. ISBN 0-7867-1484-0. Retrieved on June 28, 2010. 
  17. Pakula, Hannah (2009). The last empress: Madame Chiang Kai-shek and the birth of modern China. Simon and Schuster. p. 247. ISBN 1-4391-4893-7. Retrieved on June 28, 2010. 
  18. Taylor, Jay (2000). The Generalissimo's son: Chiang Ching-kuo and the revolutions in China and Taiwan. Harvard University Press. p. 74. ISBN 0-674-00287-3. Retrieved on June 28, 2010. 
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