Chiang Kai-shek (October 31, 1887 – April 5, 1975) was one of the most important political leaders in twentieth century Chinese history, serving between Sun Yat-sen and Mao Zedong. He was a military and political leader who assumed the leadership of the Kuomintang (KMT) after the death of Sun Yat-sen in 1925. 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 time his international prominence grew.
During the Chinese Civil War (1926–1949), Chiang attempted to eradicate the Chinese Communists but ultimately failed, forcing his government to retreat to Taiwan (The Republic of China) where he continued serving as the President of the Republic and Director-General of the KMT for the remainder of his life. Taiwan occupied China's Permanent Seat in the United Nations Security Council until 1971, when UN Resolution 2758 was adopted. This resolution recognized for the first time the Government of the People's Republic of China (Mainland China) as the legitimate representatives of China to the United Nations. With this resolution, the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek's government-in-exile were expelled from the UN.
Chiang, a fervent patriot, had the adaptability to switch from political to military leader and back again. His original goal was the modernization of China, yet the constancy of war during his tenure dictated his effectiveness.
Chiang Kai-shek's legacy was incomplete. Though he was personally ascetic, corruption flourished in the KMT under him. Favored by Western democracies, in contrast he imposed martial law on Taiwan. He attempted to unify his divided nation, and to stabilize and develop it as well. Though he failed in a number of respects, he left behind a prosperous economy that grew into a genuine democracy. Chiang is known for his vigorous anti-communist stance, having founded the World Anti-Communist League (WACL). Across the Taiwan Straits on the mainland, more than one million Chinese were murdered during the first cultural revolution of 1949, and some estimates place the number as more than 27,000,000 deaths from starvation in the famine which lasted from from 1959 through 1961. The second Cultural Revolution, equally devastating to human freedom of expression, began in 1966 and ended in 1976, soon after Mao's death. It was this needless suffering and loss of life under communism that motivated Chiang to fight it throughout his adult life.
Source: New World Encyclopedia, https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Chiang_Kai-shek
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