Chiang Kaishek file photo [631]

Chiang Kaishek

SurnameChiang
Given NameKaishek
Born31 Oct 1887
Died5 Apr 1975
CountryChina
CategoryGovernment
GenderMale

Contributor:

ww2dbaseChiang Kaishek was born in Xikou, Fenghua, Zhejiang Province, China to Jiang Zhaocong and Wang Caiyu. He married Mao Fumei as arranged by his parents, and would have one son, Chiang Chingkuo (future president of the Republic of China) and one daughter with Mao. At this time, China was undergoing a tumultuous time; the monarch in Beijing was unable to hold the country together at the end of the Qing Dynasty, and foreign countries carved spheres of influence all along the coast. Chiang joined the call of the military in 1906 in hopes that he would be able to help the country. He attended Paoting Military Academy in China in 1906 and then studied at a Japanese military academy in 1907. He served in the Japanese Army from 1909 to 1911, and during this time he joined the movement to overthrow the Qing and set up a Chinese republic. In 1911, the Wuchang Uprising marked the beginning of the Chinese revolution. Chiang returned to China as an officer in the revolutionary forces, and when the revolution was won, he was at the right place at the right time to become a founding father of the Guomingdang (Nationalist) Party that ruled the new republic. Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the visionary behind the new republic's constitution, took in Chiang as his protégé; additionally, Chiang broadened his support by befriending the powerful criminal underworld boss of the Green Gang and a local warlord in Guangdong (Canton). Though officially the revolution was won and a republic was born, China was actually in a state of anarchy. In 1923, Sun moved his base of operations to Guangzhou, Guangdong in southern China and re-established his government with the aid of Comintern. In the same year, Chiang was sent to Moscow to study Russian political ideals. He returned to China in 1924 and took over the Whampoa Military Academy as its commandant. By 1925, he had already developed a small army of officers at Whampoa who were fiercely loyal to Chiang and not necessarily to the government. Sun passed away in 1925, and Chiang maneuvered himself into the position of power. Naming himself the Commander-in-Chief of the National Revolutionary Forces, he launched the Northern Expedition in Jul 1926 that pushed his government's boundaries into the rest of China. Although the Chinese Communists had helped him in his attempt to unify China, in Apr 1927 Chiang decided Communist influence in his government was not what he wanted, and suddenly turned against them brutally around the time he established himself in Nanjing. In 1927, Russian advisors attached to him were expelled back to Moscow, and by Jun 1928 his troops took control of Beijing. China proper was, at least nominally, finally re-unified. On 10 Oct 1928, he was elected the Chairman of the Nationalist Government, which was both the head of state and the head of government.

ww2dbaseAround this time, westerners began referring to Chiang as the "Generalissimo", a nickname that was not used by Chinese people in any way.

ww2dbaseOn 1 Dec 1927, Chiang divorced his first wife and married Song Meiling, the younger sister of Sun's widow. To please Song's family, converted to Christianity in 1929.

ww2dbaseIn 1931, Chiang ordered the arrest of political rival Hu Hanmin, a fellow Nationalist Party member, causing uproar, leading to his resignation as the Chairman of the Nationalist Government. The party elected veteran politician Lin Sen as his successor. In Dec 1935, as scandal of 1931 faded, he was made the Premier of the Republic of China; during this period, he consolidated his power over the political stage, effectively regaining his powers while making Lin Sen a ceremonial president. He pushed his government to modernize China, overhaul the legal system, and stabilize the economy. Transportation infrastructure and health systems were also dramatically improved. In the mean time, political instability threatened his government, though Chiang managed to remain in power. He considered the Communist movement his biggest threat, and continued to sternly fight against it, and it drew the attention of Germany. German advisers were sent to Nanjing to train Chinese troops, and prominent figures such as Chiang Weiguo, Chiang's adopted son, traveled to Germany to study (Chiang Weiguo eventually served as a junior officer in the German military until Japan declared war on China). Chiang's slogan of "first internal pacification, then external resistance" kept German interests in China high, along with all the military aid. Domestically, however, this was widely unpopular, as the Chinese majority viewed the Japanese aggression that began in 1931 as a greater source of national shame. On 12 Dec 1936, Zhang Xueliang, a commander loyal to Chiang, instigated the Xi'an Incident where he and General Yang Hu-cheng kidnapped Chiang and forced him to ally with the Communists to fight together against the Japanese. Though he agreed to this temporary unification, throughout the entire war against the Japanese Chiang continuously attacked Communist forces whenever opportunities were presented.

ww2dbaseAlthough Japanese forces occupied northeastern China (ie. the historical region of Manchuria) as early as 1931, the Second Sino-Japanese War did not formally begin until 1937. During the Second Battle of Shanghai, he insisted on fighting a protracted defensive battle against the stronger Japanese forces in order to demonstrate to the western world that China was committed to a war of resistance against the Japanese; while this goal was achieved (leading to British and American condemnation of Japanese aggression, backed up by an economic sanction), this decision of his also cost him 250,000 casualties in his best trained troops. Seeing that direct British and American military aid would not come in sufficient numbers, however, Chiang ordered a major withdraw to western China Proper, thus starting a protracted war that traded space for time, aiming to dwindle Japanese resources. In Jan 1938, he stepped down as the Premier, but held on to significant influence as he became the Director-General of the Nationalist Party two months later. In Nov 1939, he assumed the position of Premier once again; he would hold this position until 1948.

ww2dbaseAs soon as the United States entered WW2 in Dec 1941, Chiang's American-educated wife acted as his personal ambassador to the United States, lobbying for US support in China. In the temporary war-time capital of Chongqing, Chiang used the resources from the United States to fight a defensive war against the Japanese, which pleased the Allies, but his main aim was to strengthen his power among the Chinese leaders, and particularly to defeat the Communists. As a result, instead of using the munitions against the Japanese, a great part of them were stored away for the post-WW2 fight against the Communists. To make matters worse, he was unable or unwilling to control the rampant corruption common in his government and military hierarchies. Some westerners, his American chief-of-staff Joseph Stilwell being one, thought little of him, noting he was but a fascist leader whose reputation was built on intrigue rather than ability. Some time in May 1943, Stilwell would note to US President Franklin Roosevelt that Chiang was "a vacillating, tricky, undependable old scoundrel who never keeps his word". Interestingly, American air force leader Claire Chennault, who also worked closely with Chiang, thought the complete opposite, noting also in 1943 that "I think the generalissimo is one of the two or three greatest military and political leaders in the world today. He has never broken a commitment or promise he made to me".

ww2dbaseIn Sep 1943, shortly after Lin Sen's death, Chiang was selected to succeed Lin as the Chairman of the Nationalist Government, thus he once again became the official head of state of the Republic of China. He officially took office on 10 Oct 1943.

ww2dbaseIn Nov 1943, Chiang participated in the Cairo Conference with Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, and Winston Churchill, in which it was decided that Japanese was to return northeastern China (Manchuria), Taiwan, and the Pescadores islands to the Republic of China.

ww2dbaseAfter WW2, the constitution that went into effect in Dec 1947 led to a reform of the top leadership positions of the Republic of China. The position of the Chairman of the Nationalist Government was abolished, and Chiang was elected by the National Assembly as the first President of the Republic of China under the new constitution. By this time, the Communists were growing popularity, especially in China's vast rural areas. As the conflict soon broke out to a full-scale civil war, Nationalist troops suffered one defeat after another, and the corrupt government officials corroded away people's confidence. On 21 Jan 1949, Chiang resigned his presidency (with Vice President Li Zongren stepping up to become his successor) but continued to lead the Nationalist troops. On 10 Dec 1949, Communist troops surrounded the city of Chengdu, the last major Nationalist stronghold, where Chiang and his son Chiang Chingkuo had been located. Later on the same day, they were evacuated to Taiwan, and eventually the entire Republic of China government retreated there as well. The seat of the Republic of China would remain in Taiwan through the time of this writing. On 1 Mar 1950, he resumed his presidential duties. He was re-elected as president in 1954, 1960, 1966, and 1972, although these elections, conducted under martial law (the "Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of Communist Rebellion") during the Cold War, offered no true alternative candidates. Throughout his presidency he sternly laid claims on all of China, despite strong Communist holding over the land. During the Korean War, Chiang offered his troops to fight in South Korea, and General Douglas MacArthur went as far as recommending the use of Chiang's troops to make small raids on the Chinese coast, but the United States government turned down these possibilities to prevent an escalation of the conflict; furthermore, American naval forces were sent to the Taiwan Strait to prevent Chiang from raiding China.

ww2dbaseChiang passed away in 1975 while still in office. Even though in recent years Chiang's popularity had declined, the Chinese people in Taiwan remained respectful of his perseverance against Communist expansion, his work in setting the foundation for Taiwan to become an economic powerhouse decades later, and his efforts to slowly rid the Republic of China government of the corruption which had doomed itself during the 1930s and 1940s. In Communist China, however, he was vilified as a dictator who selfishly expanded his personal influence during a time of national crisis. Chiang was buried in Taiwan upon his death; his grave site was considered a temporary one, as it was his wish to be re-buried in mainland China when his homeland would become liberated from Communism.

ww2dbaseSpecial Note on the Romanization of Chiang Kaishek's Name

Dialect (Romanization Method)Family NameGiven Name
Mandarin (Pinyin)JiangJieshi
Mandarin (Wade-Giles)ChiangChieh-shih
WuJiaengKai-sek
CantoneseTseungGai-sek

ww2dbaseAs seen above, the name he was best known in western literature, Chiang Kaishek, was drawn from two different Chinese dialects, with his family name Chiang from Mandarin (using the Wade-Giles romanization method), and his given name Kaishek from the Wu dialect of his home province Zhejiang; the use of "sh", rather than "s", in his given name is unusual by today's convention.

ww2dbaseSpecial Note on Chiang's Names

ww2dbaseIn an earlier era, it was standard practice for Chinese people, especially men, of upper and middle-upper class families to bear different names during their lifetimes. Although this practice slowly lost popularity after the establishment of the republic in 1911, Chiang Kaishek's family continued this tradition. The names he had used during his life were as follows:

Name TypeUsed ByMandarin (Pinyin)Mandarin (Wade-Giles)Notes
Register NameThe family register and formal family eventsJiang ZhoutaiChiang Chou-tai 
Milk NameChiang's parents during his childhoodJiang RuiyuanChiang Jui-yuan 
School NameHis classmates between 1903 and 1911Jiang ZhiqingChiang Chi-ching 
First Courtesy Name1911-1918Jiang JieshiChiang Chieh-shihAs Chiang became a figure on the world stage during this period, this name (in its "Kaishek" form) became the most commonly used in western literature, even after he adopted a new courtesy name in 1917 or 1918.
Second Courtesy Name1918-1975Jiang ZhongzhengChiang Chung-chengChiang's new courtesy name was patterned after one of Sun Yat-sen's courtesy names (Zhongshan) to reflect his position as the legitimate successor, adopted some time between 1917 and 1918. Communist China refused to recognize Chiang as Sun's successor, thus Chiang is still commonly known as Jiang Jieshi in Communist Chinese literature, while Republic of China literature refers to him as Jiang Zhongzheng.
Posthumous TitleSince 1975Jiang GongChiang Kung"Lord Jiang"

ww2dbaseSources:
Frank McLynn, The Burma Campaign
Wikipedia

Famous Quote(s)

Chiang Kaishek Timeline

31 Oct 1887 Chiang Kaishek was born in Fenghua, Zhejiang Province, Qing Dynasty China.
20 Mar 1926 Having discovered a Communist plot to kidnap him in Guangzhou in southern China, Chiang Kaishek issued the order to arrest top Communist and left-wing leaders. As Wang Jingwei fled to Paris, France and Zhou Enlai fled to Shanghai, China, Chiang would effectively emerge from this failed plot as the sole leader of the Nationalist Party and its military forces.
5 Apr 1927 Chiang Kaishek declared martial law in Shanghai, China as the first step of a bloody purge against Communists.
10 Nov 1927 Chiang Kaishek arrived in Shanghai, China from Japan.
1 Dec 1927 Chiang Kaishek married Song Meiling.
10 Dec 1927 Chiang Kaishek was elected back into power.
10 Oct 1928 Chiang Kaishek was made the Chairman of the Nationalist Government, making him the head of state of the Republic of China.
4 Dec 1930 Chiang Kaishek was made the Premier of the Republic of China.
15 Dec 1931 Chiang Kaishek stepped down from his positions as the Chairman of the Nationalist Government and the Premier of the Republic of China.
31 Aug 1932 The pilot training program at the Republic of China Military Academy in Nanjing, China was officially reopened at the Jianqiao Airfield in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China under the new name of the Central Aviation Academy. Chiang Kaishek took personal command of the academy, relieving Lieutenant General Mao Bangchu.
12 Apr 1934 Chiang Kaishek stepped down as the commandant of the Chinese Central Aviation Academy at Jianqio Airfield, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, handing the resonsibility over to Lieutenant General Zhou Zhirou.
9 Dec 1935 Chiang Kaishek was made the Premier of the Republic of China.
9 May 1936 Chiang Kaishek proclaimed that Japan was waging war in China without a declaration of war.
26 Dec 1936 Chiang Kiashek traveled from Xi'an to Nanjing in China.
12 Aug 1937 The Chinese government gave Chiang Kaishek special powers for the duration of the war.
15 Aug 1937 Chiang Kaishek officially assumed the role of the commander-in-chief of the Chinese military for the duration of the Second Sino-Japanese War and issued orders to reorganize Chinese Communist forces under Nationalist command.
23 Sep 1937 Chiang Kaishek officially announced a united front between Nationalist Party and Communist Party forces against Japan.
7 Dec 1937 Chiang Kaishek departed Nanjing, China by plane. The civilian administration of the city was left to an International Committee led by John Rabe. Outside the city, several villages were set ablaze by Chinese troops to prevent them from being used by the approaching Japanese troops.
1 Jan 1938 Chiang Kaishek stepped down as the Premier of the Republic of China.
24 Mar 1938 Chiang Kaishek inspected troops at Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, China. He personally appointed Bai Chongxi and Lin Weizu as staff officers of the 5th War Area.
29 Mar 1938 Chiang Kaishek was made the Director-General of the Nationalist Party in China. He would hold this position until his death.
1 Apr 1938 Chiang Kaishek took personal command of the Chinese Central Aviation Academy at Kunming Airfield, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China, relieving Lieutenant General Chen Qingyun.
20 Nov 1939 Chiang Kaishek was made the Premier of the Republic of China.
17 Jan 1941 Chiang Kaishek officially declared the disbanding of the Communist New Fourth Army.
19 Dec 1941 In India, General Archibald Wavell received a telegram from Chiang Kaishek in which the Chinese leader offered to join any plan proposed by the Allies.
31 Dec 1941 Franklin Roosevelt notified Chiang Kaishek that he had obtained agreement from the governments of Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands for the establishment of a China Theatre of War with the Chiang as the Supreme Allied Commander.
19 Jan 1942 US Secretary of War Henry Stimson formally asked Chiang Kaishek to approve a US commander for Chinese troops fighting in Burma; Chiang agreed, albeit with ambiguous language.
11 Mar 1942 Chiang Kaishek told Joseph Stilwell that he was now ready to commit three elite Chinese armies (5th, 6th, and 66th) to Burma. Stilwell would soon find out that Chiang had secretly ordered the Chinese commanders to avoid decisive confrontations, thus rendering the Chinese troops useless to Stilwell's command.
1 Jul 1942 Chiang Kaishek formally submitted his "Three Demands" to Joseph Stilwell to forward on to Washington DC, United States. This request included 5,000 tons of supplies, 500 war planes, and 3 US divisions for the Chinese theater of war. US President Franklin Roosevelt would superficially agree to the demands, but would stall the delivery indefinitely.
1 Aug 1942 Chiang Kaishek accepted Joseph Stilwell's X-Y Plan for an offensive into Burma on the conditions that British generals fully cooperate with the campaign and that the Allies would support the offensive from the air.
14 Oct 1942 Chiang Kaishek agreed to fully commit to a campaign in Burma if the United Kingdom did the same and that the Allies had naval and air superiority in the Bay of Bengal.
3 Nov 1942 Chiang Kaishek met with Joseph Stilwell regarding the planned offensive into Burma, pledging 15 divisions by 15 Feb 1943.
28 Dec 1942 Chiang Kaishek cabled Washington DC in the United States, complaining of Archibald Wavell's uncooperativeness regarding a possible coordinated offensive in Burma.
7 Feb 1943 Chiang Kaishek messaged Franklin Roosevelt, agreeing with Chinese support for an offensive into Burma.
7 Jul 1943 Joseph Stilwell presented Chiang Kaishek and He Yingqin the Legion of Merit medals.
12 Jul 1943 Chiang Kaishek committed, in writing, to a Chinese offensive into Burma.
1 Aug 1943 Chiang Kaishek was made temporary head of state upon his predecessor Lin Sen's death.
13 Sep 1943 Chiang Kaishek was elected the Chairman of the Nationalist Government, making him both the head of state and head of government of the Republic of China. Later on the same day, Chiang reluctantly agreed to stop the fighting against communist forces in China and turn his full attention to the Japanese.
10 Oct 1943 Chiang Kaishek officially assumed his position as the Chairman of the Nationalist Government, making him the head of state of China.
12 Nov 1943 Patrick Hurley met with Chiang Kaishek.
27 Nov 1943 Chiang Kaishek asked Joseph Stilwell to secure 10,000 tons of supplies to be flown over the Hump into China per month, while China would not make commitment on any American demands.
7 Sep 1944 Chiang Kaishek met with Joseph Stilwell, Patrick Hurley, and Donald Nelson in Chongqing, China.
1 Jan 1945 Chiang Kaishek made a special radio announcement on the occasion of a New Year's Day, noting that the past 8th year of the war of resistance against the Japanese was the most perilous, but the tide was about to turn. The coming 9th year would be the decisive year in the war against Japan.
23 Feb 1945 Chiang Kaishek unexpectedly withdrew all Chinese forces from Burma.
31 May 1945 Chiang Kaishek stepped down as the Premier of the Republic of China.
14 Aug 1945 From Chongqing, China, Chiang Kaishek sent a cable to Mao Zedong, inviting the Chinese Communist leader to Chongqing, China for talks. Mao, who saw that talks would gain him little, insisted that the Nationalists must allow the Communists to take official parts in the Japanese surrender, something Chiang was likely to reject.
15 Aug 1945 Chiang Kaishek made a radio address from the facilities of the Broadcasting System (forerunner of today's Broadcasting Corporation of China located in Taiwan, Republic of China) in Chongqing, China, noting that China must not seek revenge against the defeated Japan, for violence would only yield more violence.
24 Aug 1945 Under Soviet pressure, Chiang Kaishek announced that he would recognize the Outer Mongolia region as an independent country if the Mongolian people voted to secede from China.
6 Jun 1946 Fearing the United States would scale back aid if he did not comply, Chiang Kaishek accepted George Marshall's request for the Nationalists to halt their so far successful offensive against the Chinese Communists in northeastern China by announcing a 15-day truce. In the mean time, Marshall would naively attempt to engage with the Communists in peace negotiations.
1 Mar 1947 Chiang Kaishek was made the Premier of the Republic of China.
18 Apr 1947 Chiang Kaishek stepped down as the Premier of the Republic of China.
1 Oct 1947 Chiang Kaishek stepped down as the commandant of the Chinese Central Aviation Academy at Jianqio Airfield, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, handing the resonsibility over to Lieutenant General Hu Weike.
20 May 1948 Chiang Kaishek stepped down as the Chairman of the Nationalist Government and became the first Chinese president under the new Constitution of the Republic of China.
21 Jan 1949 Chiang Kaishek stepped down as the President of the Republic of China.
29 Nov 1949 Chiang Kaishek departed Chongqing, China aboard C-54 transport "Zhongmei" piloted by Yi Fuen; Communist troops captured the airfield within hours of Chiang's departure.
10 Dec 1949 Chiang Kaishek departed Fenghuangshan Airfield, Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China at 1400 hours for Taiwan aboard C-54 transport "Zhongmei" piloted by Yi Fuen. Communist general Ye Jianying in Guangdong Province in southern China requested permission to intercept the C-54 aircraft, but he would never launch his fighters as his superiors failed to respond to his request.
1 Mar 1950 Chiang Kaishek was elected the President of the Republic of China.
5 Apr 1975 Having suffered a major heart attack and pneumonia in the previous few months, Chiang Kaishek passed away from kidnay failure and advanced cardiac malfunction at 2350 hours in Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China. A month of mourning was declared.

Photographs

Chiang Kaishek and Song Meiling, date unknownChiang Kaishek, Song Meiling, and Claire Chennault, 1940sChiang Kaishek, Song Meiling, and Joseph Stilwell at Maymyo, Burma, 19 Apr 1942, photo 1 of 3Portrait of Chiang Kaishek at Baoding Military Academy, Hebei, China, 1907
See all 207 photographs of Chiang Kaishek



Share this article with your friends:

 Facebook  Reddit
 Twitter  Digg
 Google+  Delicious
 StumbleUpon  


Stay updated with WW2DB:

 RSS Feeds



Posting Your Comments on this Topic

Your Name
Your Email
 Your email will not be published
Comment Type
Your Comments
Security Code
 

 

Note: We hope that visitor conversations at WW2DB will be constructive and thought-provoking. Please refrain from using strong language. HTML tags are not allowed. Your IP address will be tracked even if you remain anonymous. WW2DB site administrators reserve the right to moderate, censor, and/or remove any comment. All comment submissions will become the property of WW2DB.

Search WW2DB & Partner Sites
More on Chiang Kaishek
Event(s) Participated:
» Xi'an Incident
» Second Battle of Shanghai
» Battle of Wuhan
» Cairo Conference

Document(s):
» Chiang Kaishek General Order No. 1
» Chiang Kaishek's Mukden Incident Anniversary Speech
» Chiang Kaishek's Radio Address on the Treatment of Defeated Japan
» Will of Chiang Kaishek

Related Books:
» China's World War II 1937-1945: Forgotten Ally
» The Burma Campaign: Disaster into Triumph 1942-45

Partner Sites Content:
» China's Political Leaders

Chiang Kaishek Photo Gallery
Chiang Kaishek and Song Meiling, date unknown
See all 207 photographs of Chiang Kaishek




Famous WW2 Quote
"You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terrors. Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival."

Winston Churchill