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Sun Yat-sen Born Nov. 12, 1866 in Guangdong province, 1879 Studies medicine in
Hawaii, 1895 Leads first insurrection against Qing dynasty, 1905 Develops
"Three Principles of the People", 1911 Qing dynasty is overthrown,
1913 Kuomintang, the party he founded, wins national election but is soon
expelled from parliament, 1925 Dies March 12 in Beijing At his political base in
Canton, 1917 Recognized by Chinese everywhere as their country's modern founder,
the physician-turned-nationalist failed in his dream of unification.
In the turbulent and tangled history of modern China, Sun Yat-sen holds a unique
place. Claimed as a personal inspiration and political guide by the most
bitterly opposed political parties, he is known to millions as "the Father
of the Chinese Revolution." Yet his own life was a constant scramble for
livelihood and influence, he spent much of his time in exile, and almost none of
his cherished schemes came near to fruition. The twin strands of inspiration and
failure define the relationship between his life and the history of his country.
The contest for leadership of China after Sun Yat-sen's death had several
contenders but one clear favorite: Chiang Kai-shek.
Born in 1866 to a farming family in southeast China, not far from Macao and Hong
Kong, Sun received a few years of local schooling in traditional Chinese texts.
At 13 he moved to Hawaii, where his elder brother had emigrated. Three years of
study in a Honolulu boarding school run by the Church of England were followed
by more than a decade in Hong Kong, where Sun was baptized a Christian and
gained certificates of proficiency in medicine and surgery. He practiced
medicine briefly in Hong Kong in 1893.
Yet Sun was not typical of the rising class of Westernized Chinese intent on
their own professional advancement within the swiftly changing tides of late
19th century imperialism and colonialism. He was a Chinese patriot of a more
traditional kind, an admirer of rebels who had pitted their lives against the
ruling Manchu dynasty (or Qing) and was at home within the conspiratorial worlds
of Chinese secret societies. His head was filled with dreams of strengthening
China from within by drawing on its natural resources in conjunction with new
technologies, and he tried to interest powerful officials in his schemes for
By 1894, however, China was sliding into chaos as the Manchu dynasty weakened
and Japan defeated China in a brief and humiliating war. The main prize of
victory for the Japanese was the island of Taiwan, which was ceded by China and
made a Japanese colony. Sensing the time was ripe for an uprising, Sun returned
to Hawaii, where he used his earlier contacts, along with some of his new
friends in Hong Kong, to form an underground society dedicated to reviving
Sun returned to Hong Kong in 1895 and attempted to lead an insurrection in
southeast China. He failed. At the Chinese government's request, the British
banned Sun from Hong Kong. For a time, Japan became his base for new
revolutionary activities. After he was banned there, he lived in various
countries in Southeast Asia. He also traveled widely in Europe, Canada and the
United States, seeking funds for future uprisings, all of which failed because
of faulty planning and lack of adequate weapons.
By 1905, Sun began to develop a more coherent set of guiding principles. These
became, in turn, the ideology of a broader-based revolutionary society that he
founded at the same time. In this new ideology, which he termed the "Three
Principles of the People," Sun sought to combine the fundamental aspects of
nationalism, democracy and socialism. Over the years, Sun developed these ideas
into a comprehensive plan for restoring economic and moral strength to his
country, first by expelling the Manchu's and then by curbing the foreign powers.
He also hoped to free Chinese from graver forms of social exploitation by
building central government that would counter the rampant forces of capitalism
in industry and of powerful landlords in the countryside.
It was Sun's view that, in the early stages of China's regeneration, a
rigorously structured central party, dedicated in loyalty to him personally as
absolute leader, should control the country. But through a carefully calibrated
period of "tutelage," the Chinese people would be introduced to the
principles and practices of representative government, until finally the
tutelage would end and China could emerge as a strong, full-fledged democracy.
Sun Yat-sen had extraordinary tenacity and great persuasive powers. During his
long years of exile he was able to keep acquiring funds especially from overseas
Chinese in Southeast Asia and North America--and to hold his own against
political rivals, within and outside his organization, who held different views
of China's destiny. Thus, when the Manchu dynasty at last collapsed in 1911, in
some measure because of the ceaseless pressure exerted by Sun and his
revolutionary followers, he was named provisional President of the new Chinese
republic. But Sun was shrewd enough to see that he lacked adequate military
strength to hold China together, and he made the bold decision to transform his
revolutionary organization into a mainstream political party.
The Nationalist Party (or Kuomintang) won more seats than any of its rivals
in China's first-ever national elections in early 1913. But Sun and his party
still could not curb the emerging powers of the new military and political
strongmen. Late in the year he was forced once more into exile, and Kuomintang
members were expelled from parliament.
The last decade of Sun's life was spent trying to establish a more effective
political and military base of operations. He was aided by a dedicated group of
followers who strongly believed in his vision for China and by his second wife,
Soong Ching-ling, whom he married in 1914 while in exile in Japan. Some 26 years
younger than her husband, Soong had an American college degree and came from a
wealthy cosmopolitan family. She was also highly intelligent and politically
After 1916, when they returned to China from Japan, the two were constantly
shuttling between Shanghai and Canton (now Guangzhou), the cities that seemed to
offer them the best potential political bases. By 1923 they had settled on
Canton, where Sun assembled a viable government supported by local military
figures and by members of the old parliament. There were also new allies, like
the young military officer Chiang Kai-shek, who was later to marry Soong's
But most important of Sun's new allies were agents from the Communist
International in Moscow, who had been instrumental in founding the Chinese
Communist Party in the summer of 1921.
Two years later, these agents persuaded Sun that if his Kuomintang nationalists
would ally with the communists, whose numbers were still small, they could tap
into the enormous latent energies of China's peasants and industrial workers,
who were just beginning to emerge on the political landscape. Apparently
convinced that his organization could control the communists within its ranks,
Sun agreed to a formula by which individual communists could enter the
Kuomintang as members. In return, the Soviet Union provided Sun with military
advisers, arms, ammunition and technical help in strengthening his political
Sun's goal was to use these new military forces to expand his Canton base so
that he could break the hold of individual military leaders in south China and
eventually link up with sympathetic forces in north China, thus creating a new,
reunified government. He was greatly encouraged by an invitation from powerful
northern militarists in 1924 to meet with them to discuss future reunification
moves. Though ill and tired, Sun undertook the journey, stopping off briefly in
Japan on the way. Arriving in Beijing, he was so weak that he had to be taken to
his guesthouse in an ambulance. Doctors speedily found that he had inoperable
liver cancer. He died in Beijing in March 1925.
Sun's corpse quickly became a complex political symbol. His body was preserved
and kept at a temple on the outskirts of Beijing. Crowds of ordinary people and
a mixture of generals and political figures came to pay homage. In an innovative
use of new media techniques, phonograph records of Sun's political speeches were
played on loudspeakers and film clips of his public appearances in Canton were
flashed on a screen. Three-and-a-half years after Sun's death, Chiang Kai-shek
was at last able to lead the reunification army from the south into Beijing. But
Chiang purged the communists from the Kuomintang, starting a process of
confrontation and civil war that was to continue for the next 20 years.
As victors, the Kuomintang reclaimed Sun. They built him an immense mausoleum
near their new capital of Nanjing and sent his body across China by railway in
an impressive mourning cortège, making his burial an event of political
enshrinement. Sun's writings thereafter became the central ideology of the
Kuomintang on the mainland and later in Taiwan. The communists, after their
victory over nationalist forces in 1949, also claimed Sun for themselves, citing
his insistence that a communist alliance was essential to the political
development of China.
So it is to this day, in both China and Taiwan, that Sun's strong personality
and oddly mixed political fortunes remain a central part of the national
memories of revolution and transformation. The doctor was never able to heal the
divisions among his people, but they remain united in their reverence for his
Chiang who died in 1975 was born into a moderately prosperous merchant and
farmer family in the coastal province of Chekiang. He prepared for a military
career first (1906) at the Paoting Military Academy in North China and
subsequently (1907-11) in Japan.
From 1909 to 1911 he served in the Japanese army, whose Spartan ideals he
admired and adopted. More influential were the youthful compatriots he met in
Tokyo; plotting to rid China of its alien Manchu dynasty, they converted Chiang
to republicanism and made him a revolutionary.
In 1911, upon hearing of revolutionary outbreaks in China, Chiang returned home
and helped in the sporadic fighting that led to the overthrow of the Manchus. He
then participated in the struggles of China's republican and other
revolutionaries in 1913-16 against the Manchus and China's new president and
would-be emperor, Yüan Shih-k'ai.
After these excursions into public life, Chiang lapsed into obscurity. For two
years (1916-17) he lived in Shanghai, where he apparently belonged to the Green
Gang (Ch'ing-pang), a secret society involved in financial manipulations.
When Sun Yat-sen established (1917) the Guangzhou government, Chiang served as
his military aide. In 1923 he was sent by Sun to the USSR to study military
organization and to seek aid for the Guangzhou regime. On his return he was
appointed commandant of the newly established (1924) Whampoa Military Academy;
he grew more prominent in the Kuomintang after the death (1925) of Sun Yat-sen.
In 1918 he reentered public life by joining Sun Yat-sen, the leader of the
Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang. Thus began the close association with Sun on
which Chiang was to build his power. Sun's chief concern was to reunify China,
which the downfall of Yüan had left divided among warring military satraps.
Having wrested power from China's alien dynasty, the revolutionists had lost it
to indigenous warlords; unless they could defeat these warlords, they would have
struggled for nothing.
Shortly after Sun Yat-sen had begun to reorganize the Nationalist Party along
Soviet lines, Chiang visited the Soviet Union in 1923 to study Soviet
institutions, especially the Red Army.
Back in China after four months, he became commandant of a military academy,
established on the Soviet model, at Whampoa near Canton. Soviet advisers poured
into Canton, and at this time the Chinese Communists were admitted into the
The Chinese Communists quickly gained strength, especially after Sun's death in
1925, and tensions developed between them and the more conservative elements
among the Nationalists. Chiang, who, with the Whampoa army behind him, was the
strongest of Sun's heirs, met this threat with consummate shrewdness. By
alternate shows of force and of leniency, he attempted to stem the Communists'
growing influence without losing Soviet support. Moscow supported him until
1927, when, in a bloody coup of his own, he finally broke with the Communists,
expelling them from the Nationalist Party and suppressing the labor unions they
Meanwhile, Chiang had gone far toward reunifying the country. Commander in chief
of the revolutionary army since 1925, he had launched a massive Nationalist
campaign against the northern warlords in the following year. This drive ended
only in 1928, when his forces entered Peking, the capital. A new central
government under the Nationalists, with Chiang at its head, was then established
at Nanking, farther south.
In 1926 Chiang launched the Northern Expedition, leading the victorious
Nationalist army into Hankou, Shanghai, and Nanjing. Chiang followed Sun
Yat-sen's policy of cooperation with the Chinese Communists and acceptance of
Russian aid until 1927, when he dramatically reversed himself and initiated the
long civil war between the Kuomintang and the Communists.
By the end of 1927, Chiang controlled the Kuomintang, and in 1928 he became head
of the Nationalist government at Nanjing and generalissimo of all Chinese
Nationalist forces. Thereafter, under various titles and offices, he exercised
virtually uninterrupted power as leader of the Nationalist government.
In October 1930 Chiang became Christian, apparently at the instance of the
powerful westernized Soong family, whose youngest daughter, Mei-ling, had become
his second wife. As head of the new Nationalist government, Chiang stood
committed to a program of social reform, but most of it remained on paper,
partly because his control of the country remained precarious. In the first
place, the provincial warlords, whom he had neutralized rather than crushed,
still disputed his authority.
The Communists posed another threat, having withdrawn to rural strongholds and
formed their own army and government. In addition, Chiang faced certain war with
Japan, which, after seizing Manchuria (Northeast Provinces) in 1931, showed
designs upon China proper.
Chiang decided not to resist the coming Japanese invasion until after he had
crushed the Communists, a decision that aroused many protests, especially since
a complete victory over the Communists continued to elude him. To give the
nation more moral cohesion, Chiang revived the state cult of Confucius and in
1934 launched a campaign, the so-called New Life Movement, to inculcate
In 1936 Gen. Chang Hsüeh-liang siezed him at Xi'an, to force him to terminate
the civil war against the Communists in order to establish a united front
against the encroaching Japanese. Despite the resultant truce, Chiang's release,
and the 1937 outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the agreement between
Nationalists and Communists soon broke down.
War with Japan broke out in 1937, and Chiang was compelled during the Sian
Incident (q.v.) to end his military campaigns against the Communists and form an
alliance with them against the Japanese invaders. For more than four years China
fought alone until it was joined by the Allies, who with the exception of the
Soviet Union declared war on Japan in 1941. China's reward was an honored place
among the victors as one of the Big Four.
But internally Chiang's government showed signs of decay, which multiplied as it
resumed the struggle against the Communists after the Japanese surrendered to
the United States in 1945.
By 1940 Chiang's best troops were being used against the Communists in the
northwest. After the Japanese took Nanjing and Hankou, Chiang moved his capital
to Chongqing. As the Sino-Japanese War merged with World War II, Chiang's
international prestige increased.
He attended the Cairo Conference (1943) with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and
Winston Churchill. He and his wife, Soong Mei-ling were the international
symbols of China at war, but Chiang was bitterly criticized by Allied officers,
notably Joseph W. Stilwell, and argument raged over his internal policies and
his conduct of the war.
Civil war recommenced in 1946; by 1949 Chiang had lost continental China to the
Communists, and the People's Republic of China was established. Chiang moved to
Taiwan with the remnants of his Nationalist forces, established a relatively
benign dictatorship with other Nationalist leaders over the island, and
attempted to harass the Communists across the Formosa Strait.
The chastened Chiang reformed the ranks of the once-corrupt Nationalist Party,
and with the help of generous American aid he succeeded in the next two decades
in setting Taiwan on the road to modern economic development.
After the war ended Chiang failed to achieve a settlement with the Communists,
and civil war continued. In 1948 Chiang became the first president elected under
a new, liberalized constitution. He soon resigned, however, and his moderate
vice president, General Li Tsung-jên, attempted to negotiate a truce with the
The talks failed, and in 1949 Chiang resumed leadership of the Kuomintang to
oppose the Communists, who were sweeping into South China in strong military
force and reducing the territories held by the Nationalists.
In 1955 the United States signed an agreement with Chiang's Nationalist
government on Taiwan guaranteeing its defense.
Beginning in 1972, however, the value of this agreement and the future of
Chiang's government were seriously called in question by the growing
rapprochement between the United States and the People's Republic of China.
Chiang did not live to see the United States finally break diplomatic relations
with Taiwan in 1979 in order to establish full relations with the People's
Republic of China. After his death in 1975 he was succeeded temporarily by Yen
Chia-kan (C.K. Yen), who was in 1978 replaced by Chiang's son Chiang Ching-kuo.
Republic of China (TAIWAN):
The earliest Chinese settlements on Taiwan began in the 7th century, chiefly
from the mainland provinces of Fujian and Guangdong. The island was reached in
1590 by the Portuguese, who named it Formosa [beautiful].
In 1624 the Dutch founded forts in the south at present Tainan, while the
Spanish established bases in the north. The Dutch, however, succeeded in
expelling the Spaniards in 1641 and assumed control of the entire island. They
in turn were forced to abandon Taiwan in 1662, when Koxinga, a general of the
Ming dynasty of China who had to flee from the Manchus, seized the island and
established an independent kingdom.
However, the island fell to the Manchus in 1683. Chinese immigration increased,
and the aboriginal population was gradually pushed into the interior. Japan,
attracted by the island's strategic and economic importance, acquired Taiwan by
the Treaty of Shimonoseki (1895) after the First Sino-Japanese War. Japan
exploited the island for the benefit of the Japanese home economy and tried to
establish Japanese as the language of the island. The island was scarcely used,
however, for Japanese colonization.
Under Japan, Taiwan's economy was modernized and industrialized, railroads were
built, and the large cities expanded. During World War II, Taiwan was heavily
bombed by U.S. planes. In accordance with the Cairo declaration of 1943 and the
Potsdam Conference of 1945, Taiwan was returned to China as a province after the
In 1949, as the Chinese Communists gained complete control of the mainland, the
Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek and the remnants of his army took
refuge on the island. The Chinese Communists planned an invasion of Taiwan in
1950, but it was thwarted when President Truman ordered the U.S. 7th Fleet to
patrol Taiwan Strait.
Japan renounced all claims to Taiwan and the Pescadores in the peace treaty of
1951, but Taiwan's territorial status remained a major issue among the great
powers. In 1953, President Eisenhower announced the lifting of the blockade of
Taiwan by the U.S. navy.
In 1955, following repeated attacks by the People's Republic of China against
the Nationalist-held islands of Quemoy and Matsu, the United States entered into
a mutual security treaty with the Nationalists in which the U.S. promised to
defend Taiwan from outside attack.
In 1958 there was continuous, intensive shelling of Quemoy and Matsu, and an
invasion was again threatened. China reiterated its demands to the island, but
the United States reasserted its determination to defend Taiwan, although it
stressed that there was no commitment to help the Nationalist government return
to the mainland. By the spring of 1959 bombardment of the islands had
diminished, but no agreement had been reached.
At that time, the Nationalist army was trained and equipped by the United States
and there was also a sizable navy and modern air force. In support of Chiang's
repeated declaration to free China from the Communists, Taiwan long served as a
base for espionage and guerrilla forays into the Chinese mainland and for
reconnaissance flights over China.
Internally, the Nationalist government implemented land reforms, which improved
the lot of the peasants by allowing tenants to purchase their own land; much of
it was bought by the government from big landlords and sold to tenant farmers
under lenient terms.
With U.S. economic aid, Taiwan enjoyed spectacular economic growth after 1950.
The aid program was so successful that it became superfluous and was terminated
after 1965. Chiang Kai-shek, elected to his fifth six-year term as president in
1972, was criticized for dictatorial methods.
Between a native Taiwanese movement for independence and the continuing threat
from China, the position of the Nationalist government was far from secure in
the 1960s and 70s. Chiang died in 1975 and was replaced as president in 1978 by
his son, ChiangChing-kuo.
China's seat in the United Nations was taken away from the Republic of China and
given to the People's Republic in 1971. Taiwan's international position
continued to weaken in the early 1970s as the United States sought to improve
relations with the People's Republic of China and as more large countries, such
as Canada and Japan, moved to recognize the mainland government.
The United States established formal diplomatic relations with the People's
Republic of China on Jan. 1, 1979, which necessitated the cutting of its defense
ties with Taiwan. To compensate, the United States passed (1979) the Taiwan
Relations Act, which allows for the sale of defensive arms to Taiwan.
Taiwan was also expelled (1980) from the International Monetary Fund and the
World Bank in favor of the People's Republic of China. Official social and
economic contact is maintained with the United States through the American
Institute on Taiwan and the Coordination Council for North American Affairs.
Republic of China - The Island:
Dr. Sun Yat-sen founded the Republic of China (ROC), Asia's first constitutional
democracy, on January 1, 1912. During the first two decades of its existence,
the ROC suffered from internal turmoil as rival military regimes competed for
power. In 1927, the nation was unified after feuding warlords were defeated in
the Northern Expedition launched by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. Before long,
however, the Japanese invasion of China prompted the Chinese to launch the
eight-year War of Resistance against Japan in 1937. Japan was defeated in 1945
with the help of the Allied nations. Despite this victory, the Republic was
threatened yet again, this time by the growing power of the Chinese communists,
who provoked a civil war and, with the support of the Soviet Union, ultimately
gained control of the Chinese mainland, forcing the ROC government to relocate
to Taiwan and set up a provisional capital in Taipei.
The Republic of China government today exercises de facto control over the
island of Taiwan and surrounding island groups, known collectively as the Taiwan
area. Areas under the jurisdiction of the ROC government include Taiwan proper,
Penghu (the Pescadore Islands), Kinmen (Quemoy), Matsu, and dozens of other
Taiwan is situated in the Pacific Ocean about 160 kilometers (100 miles) off the
southeastern coast of the Chinese mainland. Located about midway between Korea
and Japan to the north and Hong Kong and the Philippines to the south, Taiwan is
a natural gateway for travelers to Asia.
Taiwan and the adjacent islands have an area of approximately 36,000 square
kilometers (14,000 square miles). The main island of Taiwan, slightly smaller
than the Netherlands, is about 394 kilo meters (245 miles) long and 144
kilometers (89 miles) at its broadest point.
Taiwan is largely mountainous. The Central Range, with a length of 270
kilometers (168 miles) from north to south, and a width of about 80 kilometers
(50 miles) near the middle, forms the island's backbone and occupies almost half
of its total land area. Other important physiographic divisions include dormant
volcanic mountains, foothills, tablelands, terraces, coastal plains and basins.
The highest point on Taiwan is Mount Jade, towering 3,952 meters (12,966 feet)
above sea level. An estimated 30 percent of the island is arable.
Taiwan's climate is subtropical in the north and tropical in the south, with
temperatures ranging from about 28 degrees Celsius in July to 14 degrees Celsius
in January. Summers, which last from May through September, are usually hot and
humid with daytime temperatures from 27 degrees Celsius to 35 degrees Celsius.
Winters, from December through February, are short and mild. Snow falls only on
the island's higher mountains. Rainfall varies greatly according to season,
location, and altitude. The average rainfall is about ,515 mm per year.
General Chiang Kai-shek
Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石 pinyin:
Jiǎng Jièshí) (October
in short by the Americans
as "Gimo", was the leader of the Kuomintang
(KMT) (or Nationalist Party of !
China). He was President
of the Republic
of China from 1948
until his death.
Born Chiang Chou-tai (蔣周秦), also
called Chiang Chung-cheng (蔣中正), in Fenghua
County (奉化縣), Zhejiang
to Chiang Zhaocong (蔣肇聰) and Wang Caiyu (王采玉).
"Kai-shek" is his courtesy
name in a Cantonese
Romanization. He was first married to Mao Fumei (毛福梅),
an arranged marriage. After primary education in China he spent two years at a
military academy (1908-1910). Chiang returned to China in 1910 and became
prominent in the movement to overthrow the Qing
A disciple and brother-in-law of Sun
Yat-sen, Chiang and his new wife, Soong
May-ling, held the unwavering support of the United
Lobby during and after World
War II which saw in them the hope of a Christian
Chiang Kai-shek's policies were far from Christian or democratic, but this
remained unknown to the US public due to strong state-imposed censorship in
China and self-imposed censorship in the US during the war years and after.
The US supported Chiang Kai-shek against the Japanese invaders in WWII and
afterwards against the Communist
Party of China Red
Army led by Mao
Zedong in the civil!
war for control of China.
After the takeover of the Republican government by Yuan
Shikai, Chiang became Sun Yat-sen's protégé and divided his time between
exile in Japan and haven in Shanghai's
foreign concession areas. In Shanghai, Chiang also cultivated ties with the
criminal underworld dominated by the notorious Green
Gang and later served as an officer in he army of the Cantonese
Chiung-ming. In 1923 Sun Yat-sen moved his base of operations to Guangzhou,
and, with the help of the Comintern,
undertook a reform of the Kuomintang and established a revolutionary
government. That same year, Sun sent Chiang Kai-shek to spend three months in Moscow
studying the Soviet political and military system. Chiang 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
After Sun Yat-sen's death in 1925
Chiang was embroiled in a power struggle with left-leaning
elements of the KMT over Sun's legacy.
Chiang's political maneuvering led him to become Commander-in-Chief
of the National
Revolutionary Forces. In July 1926,
Chiang launched the successful Northern
Expedition, a military campaign to defeat the warlords controlling
northern China and unify the country under the KMT. Chiang Kai-Shek gained
nominal control of China, but his party was "too weak to lead and too
strong to overthrow".
In January 1927,
allied with the Chinese Communists and Soviet
Agent Michael Borodin, KMT leftists moved the civilian government from Guangzhou
in central China. After conquering Shanghai
and Nanjing in March, Chiang decided to break with the leftists. On April 12
Chiang began a swift and brutal attack on thousands of suspected Communists in
the area he controlled. He then established his own KMT government in Nanjing! A>
, supported by his conservatives allies. The communists and other leftists
were purged from the KMT.
Wartime leader of
In 1928, having consolidated power, Chiang was named "Chairman of the
National Government," a post he held until 1932 and later from 1943 until
1948, when, under a new Constitution
passed in 1947, he was elected by the National
Assembly to be President.
Chiang's strategy during the Sino-Japanese
War (1937-1945) (a theatre of World
War II) opposed the strategies of both Mao
Zedong and the United
States. The US 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 WWII. This fact was not understood well in the US. The
US liaison officer, General Joseph
Stilwell, correctly apprehended Chiang's strategy was to accumulate
munitions for future civil war rather than fight the Japanese, but Stilwell
was unable to convince Roosevelt
of this and precious Lend-Lease
armaments continued to be allocated to the Kuomintan! g.
Chiang resigned as President (and Vice President Li
Tsung-jen became Acting President) on January 21, 1949, as KMT forces
suffered massive losses against the communists in the Chinese
Civil War. On early morning December
CPC troops laid siege to last KMT occupied city
China of Chengdu
where Chiang Kai-shek and his son Chiang
Ching-Kuo directed the defense at the Chengdu
Central Military Academy. The aeroplane
May-ling evacuated them to Taiwan on the same day; they would never
return to mainland China.
Presidency in Taiwan
Chiang moved his government to Taipei,
where he resumed his duties as president on March
Chiang was reelected President of the ROC on May
and later on in 1960,
In this position he continued to claim sovereignty over all of China.
Chiang died in Taipei in 1975
at the age of 88 and was interred at Tzuhu
This tombsite is considered "temporary" in respect to Chiang's vow
to return the mainland.
He was succeeded as President by Vice-President Yen
Chia-jin. However, real power passed to his son Chiang
Ching-kuo who was Premier and became President after Yen's term ended
three years later. Chiang has another son, Chiang
Chiang Kai-Shek remains a largely unpopular figure on Taiwan
because of his authoritarian rule of the island. Since the 1990s,
his picture has tended to disappear from public buildings, coins, and money,
and in sharp contrast to Sun
Yat-Sen and his son Chiang
Ching-Kuo, his memory is rarely invoked by current political parties,
including the Kuomintang.
Kai-shek International Airport, in Taoyuan
and serving Taipei,
is named after him.