Chiang Kai-Shek

Read this article about Chiang Kai-Shek. Pay attention to his rise to power, his actions during World War II, and why he was ultimately forced to escape mainland China for Taiwan.

Death and legacy

On April 5, 1975, 26 years after Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan, he died in Taipei at the age of 87. He had suffered a major heart attack and pneumonia in the months before, and died from renal failure aggravated by advanced cardiac malfunction.

Chiang's body was not buried in the traditional Chinese manner but entombed in his former residence in Cihhu in respect for his wish to be buried in his native Fenghua.

A month of mourning was declared during which the Taiwanese people wore black armbands. Televisions ran in black-and-white while all banquets or celebrations were forbidden. On the mainland, however, Chiang's death was met with little apparent mourning and newspapers gave the brief headline "Chiang Kai-shek Has Died".

Chiang's corpse was put in a copper coffin and temporarily interred at his favorite residence in Cihhu, Dasi, Taoyuan County. When his son Chiang Ching-kuo died in 1988, he was also entombed in a separate mausoleum in nearby Touliao. The hope was to have both buried at their birthplace in Fenghua once the mainland was recovered. In 2004, Chiang Fang-liang, the widow of Chiang Ching-kuo, asked that both father and son be buried at Wuchih Mountain Military Cemetery in Sijhih, Taipei County. Chiang Fang-liang and Soong May-ling had agreed, in 1997, that the former leaders be first buried but still be moved to mainland China in the event of reunification.

Chiang's popularity in Taiwan is sharply divided among political lines, enjoying greater support among KMT voters and the mainlander population. However, he is largely unpopular among DPP supporters and voters. Since the democratization of the 1990s, his picture began to be removed from public buildings and Taiwanese currency, while many of his statues have been taken down; in sharp contrast to his son Ching-kuo and to Sun Yat-sen, his memory is rarely invoked by current political parties, including the Kuomintang.

Chiang Kai-shek is well-remembered as the leader of the anti-Communists and invested many years of his life in the pursuit of its overthrow. However, what he had initially pursued was the modernization of China. He thus joined the revolutionary group of Sun Yat-sen, which believed the modernization of China could not be accomplished under the Qing regime.

Fearing that China would become a colony of a foreign power, Chiang helped establish the Kuomintang, which aimed at preparing the modern army to unite China and overthrow the warlords. This had a great impact on his nation, establishing organizations in businesses and schools. Such was the impact of Chiang's revolutionary theory on the Chinese population. The Kuomintang brought about the end of imperialism, overthrew the warlords, and targeted corruption of officers as the mainframe of his inner policy.

Chiang's ideals and goals included, as he frequently referred to, were; "establishment of a government of integrity," "organization of the people's army," and "indemnify the rights of agricultural and industrial organizations". Unfortunately such goals were not realized and corruption seeped into the party.

Chiang Kai-shek, though his ideals ultimately failed, was a man of noble ideals who loved his people and lived his life seeking for a better homeland for them.
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei
The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, opened in 1980 on the fifth anniversary of Chiang's death