Chiang Kai-shek Facts & Worksheets

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    • The early life and educational background of Chiang Kai-shek.
    • The highlights of the political career of Chiang Kai-shek.
    • The historical significance of Chiang Kai-shek.

    Key Facts And Information

    Let’s know more about Chiang Kai-shek!

    Chiang Kai-shek is most well known for being a political and military dictator in 20th century China. He largely influenced the Kuomintang (i.e., the Chinese Nationalist Party) during his rule.

    Chiang Kai-shek, 1940

    As a devoted nationalist, Chiang fought against the Communist Party in the Chinese Civil War and became the leader of the Chinese people. However, Mao Tse-tung took over the lead of China by winning the Civil War. Hence, Chiang fled to Taiwan, where he lived with his wife Mayling Soong until his death in 1975.

    Biography and the Kuomintang 

    • Jiang Jieshi, also known as Chiang Kai-shek, was born on 31 October 1887 during the Qing Dynasty. He was the third child and second son of his father Chiang Chao-Tsung (1842–1895) and the first child of his father's third wife, Wang Tsai-yu (1863–1921). Chiang was born and raised in a small town called Xikou, wherein his parents were upper-class salt merchants. At age eight, his father died. He soon realised the importance of his family's honour.
    • Growing up, Chiang was fascinated with this involving military. In 1906, he enrolled in  Paoting Military Academy, then one of the most important military schools in China. The following year, at the age of 18, he continued his studies at Tokyo Shinbu Gakko, a military college in Tokyo. He served in the Imperial Japanese Army from 1909 until 1911. During this period, Chiang became involved in Sun Yat-Sen’s revolutionary party, in which the latter eventually became the provisional president of China.
    • On 10 October 1911, the Wuchang Uprising, an armed rebellion against the ruling Qing dynasty occurred. This event prompted him to return to China. Upon his return to China, he actively became involved in the nationalist rebellion.
    • When the Qing dynasty fell in 1911, warlords controlled different parts of China. Yuan Shikai became the president of the country, but part of his plan was to restore the empire with him as the emperor. At this point, Chiang became one of the founding members of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party) together with Sun Yat-sen who replaced Yuan Shikai after his death. The party mainly sought assistance from foreign governments to defeat the Chinese warlords who were rampant after the empire's downfall.
    • In 1921, the Soviet Union agreed to help Sun Yat-sen on the condition that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) be allowed to join the nationalist government. When Sun Yat-sen died in 1925, Chiang became the leader of the Kuomintang. Furthermore, he became the founder of a military academy in Canton, wherein he began arranging a Nationalist Army influenced by the methods and tactics employed in the Soviet Union. 
    • Initially, Chiang Kai-shek welcomed Chinese Communists in his Kuomintang, however, he soon began to clash with their ideas. He allowed the unification of the CCP with his government to defeat the warlords. The CCP, which only had an estimated three hundred members at that time, joined the Kuomintang army, and the First United Front (the Kuomintang-CCP alliance) to defeat the warlords was created. As soon as he took charge of the Party in 1927, he removed the Communists through a brutal coup. 
    • The red lines signify the distance covered during the Long March. In the Long March, the Red Army comprises of 100,000 soldiers covered 10,000 km until they reached Shaanxi by 1935. It is said that 95,000 soldiers died, and this is the period where Mao Tse-tung gained leadership of the Red Army.

      From 1926 until 1927, the First United Front participated in the Northern Expedition to defeat the warlords and to create a unified government. By 1927, the front ended when the 'White Terror' occurred. This was an event in which communists were killed or purged from the Nationalist party and were the start of the Ten-year Civil War in China (1927-1937). The CCP leaders were forced to flee to the Jiangxi hills as Chiang Kai-shek took control of Beijing and moved his capital to Shanghai. 

    • By 1931, the CCP members regrouped and formed the Jiangxi Soviet. At that time, the CCP had organised its armed forces, the Red Army. 

      Many influential communist rulers were killed in this great massacre. Not surprisingly, most of his loyal followers were either bankers or businessmen. However, Mao Tse-tung – who later went on to rule the Communist Party – was able to escape. Such bloody betrayal catalysed the Chinese civil war of 1949.

    • In 1928, Chiang created a new government and defined himself as the head of state. By 1934, Chiang Kai-shek led a massive campaign against the CCP, which forced the latter to escape towards the north. This event was eventually known as the Long March.

    Reforms for China

    • Chiang Kai-shek had a number of programs and reforms that he desired to implement in his country. Part of these were financial and educational reforms, as well as improving the infrastructures and promoting the ‘New Life Movement’ campaign that sought to revive Confucianism. 
    • When Chiang Kai-shek was attempting to reform the country, he was confronted with opposition from the Communists and threats of war from Japan. During this period,  Japan was invading China from the northeast front, primarily the Manchurian region.
    • Chiang Kai-Shek's original decision was that of confronting the Communists, which enraged a number of his supporters. One of his generals held him captive for two weeks in December 1936, after this, he chose to ally with Mao Tse-tung’s Communist forces to fight against Japan.
    • In 1937, Japan invaded China, and the war lasted a total of four years. In August 1937, Chiang sent 500,000 equipped and abled soldiers, however, he lost half of his army. By December, Nanjing had also fallen into the hands of the Japanese, and Chiang was not able to counter-attack.

      However, thanks to the attack of Pearl Harbour during the Pacific War, China became one of the Allied Powers, and during the Second World War, he and his wife Mei-ling Soong, also known as Madame Chiang Kai-shek, supported the United States.

    • Although China became one of the Big Four Powers, Chiang Kai-shek was starting to lose support in his country since he was adopting conservative policies, to a large extent, that leaned towards landowners' benefit. Therefore, the largest slice of the Chinese population, i.e. the peasants (which were 90% of the people), were being left out of the political equation under his government.

    Civil War

    • After Japan surrendered in its war against China in 1946, the country was taken by a civil war between Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Party and Mao Tse-tung’s Communist Party. 
    • Chiang Kai-shek’s government had been losing strength since it tended to favour the wealthier classes within society, whereas Mao  Tse-tung seemed to adopt more inclusive policies. For this reason, in 1949, the Communist Party won, and Mao Tse-tung established the People’s Republic of China (PRC). 
    • Mao Tse-tung proclaiming the People’s Republic of China in the Gate of Heavenly Peace in Beijing, 1949.

      Following his defeat, Chiang Kai-shek was obliged to flee to Taiwan, which he launched towards economic modernisation with the assistance of his ally, the US, who also agreed in defending Taiwan in case of necessity.

    • Although Chiang Kai-shek was officially no longer the head of state, he continued to hold China’s seat in the United Nations until his death. 


    In 1975, 26 years after arriving in Taiwan, Chiang Kei-Shek died in Taipei at 87 years old. A few months before his death, he had survived a major heart attack and pneumonia. He died from renal failure caused by his cardiac malfunction. 

    An insight into Chiang’s Relationships

    • Chiang Kai-Shek had several relationships throughout his life. In this section, we will briefly discuss the women that had a place in the leader’s life.
    • Chiang’s first wife was Mao Fumei, she was five years older than Chiang, and was a fellow villager of his. Chiang’s parents had arranged this marriage, and Chiang had two children with her, a son – Chiang Ching-Kuo, and a daughter – Chien-Hua. However, their marriage ended when Mao died by the hand of a bomb during the Second Sino-Japanese War. His second wife was Yao Yecheng, who Chiang married in 1912. They also adopted a child named Wei-Kuo.
    • In December 1921, Chen Jeiru became his wife, and from their union was born their daughter Yaoguang. Some sources claim that Chen was Chiang’s concubine. However, such a notion is to be discarded since, in her autobiography, Chen states that "by the time she married Chiang, he had already divorced from [his previous wife], making her his wife."
    • Nevertheless, in 1920, the Chinese leader met the love of his life, Mei-ling Soong, who was eleven years younger than him. She had been educated in America and was a devout Christian. When Chiang met Mei-ling, he was still married and was a Buddhist. When he proposed to Mei-ling, he was still married, yet, he was determined to marry her. 
    • Chiang Kai-shek eventually provided confirmation of his divorce and was baptised as a Christian in 1929. Mei-ling’s mother was opposed to the marriage.
    • Madame Chiang Kai-shek played a fundamental role in Chiang’s political life, especially concerning public affairs. She acted as secretary, serving as his adviser and English translator. She was also an influential figure as a propagandist of nationalism. In addition, Madame Chiang was also a writer, penning several articles on China for the American Press.
    • In 1975, after her husband’s death, Madame Chiang Kai-shek left Taiwan and moved once again to the United States, settling in Lattingtown, New York, until her death in 2003 at the age of 105 years old.