Chiang Kai-shek

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Official portrait of Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek (1945)

Chiang Kai-shek or Tschiang Kai Schek ( Chinese  蔣介石  /  蒋介石 , Pinyin Jiǎng Jièshí , W.-G. Chiang Chieh-Shih , Zhuyin ㄐ ㄧ ㄤ ˇ ㄐ ㄧ ㄝ ˋ ㄕ ˊ , Pe̍h-ōe-jī Chiúⁿ Kài-se̍k ; later 蔣中正  /  蒋中正 , Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng , Chiang Chung-cheng , Zhuyin ㄐ ㄧ ㄤ ˇ ㄓ ㄨ ㄥ ㄓ ㄥ ˋ , Pe̍h-ōe-jī ChiúⁿTiong-chìng ; born October 31, 1887 in Xikou , Fenghua County , ProvinceZhejiang ; † April 5, 1975 in Taipei ) was a Chinese military and politician in the period after the Xinhai Revolution (1911) and from 1925 leader of the Kuomintang . As such, he was Mao Zedong's opponent in the Chinese Civil War (1927–1949) and was the leading politician in China until the Communists came to power on the Chinese mainland in the Chinese Civil War. During this time he was president several times and as marshal and generalissimo military commander in chief of the Republic of China .

After the defeat by the communists, Chiang proclaimed the provisional government of the Republic of China in Taiwan (formerly Formosa) in late 1949 . He ruled partly dictatorially and with US support he claimed all of China until his death in 1975.

Childhood and youth

Chiang's ancestors were among the wealthier residents of Xikou; they owned a larger piece of land. Grandfather Jiang Yubiao opened a salt business, and father Jiang Suan expanded the business to include wine trading; Both goods came under the monopoly of the government at the end of the Qing Dynasty , which indicates that the Jiang clan has good relations with government agencies. Chiang Kai-shek was the son of Jiang Suan's third wife, who came from a very poor background but was intelligent and ambitious. He got the name Zhongzheng ( Chinese  中正 , Pinyin Zhōngzhèng  - "balanced justice"), the name Kai-shek ( Chinese  介 石 , Pinyin Jièshí  - "upright stone") he took later, with Kai-shek that of Sun Yat -sen is the preferred Cantonese pronunciation of this name. As a child, Kai-shek was rebellious and spirited. Father Jiang Suan died suddenly in 1896. His mother made sure that Kai-shek received a neo-Confucianist education. He had to read the Four Classics of Confucianism, probably without understanding them. At the age of 14, at the request of his mother, he married Mao Fumei, then 19, from a neighboring poor village. In 1903, Chiang failed his civil servant exam, after which his mother sent him to the Confucian School in Fenghua .

In Chiang's childhood, the Manchu- led Qing dynasty was weak. China was humiliated by the British in the Opium Wars , it had to cede concessions to foreign powers and suffer a military defeat against its former tribute payer Japan. The Hundred Day Reform launched in response to these events was stifled. When Chiang was 13 years old, the Boxer Rebellion led to even bigger concessions to foreign countries. A revolution prepared by Sun Yat-sen failed. In 1905 the Japanese destroyed a Russian fleet under Tōgō Heihachirō in the Russo-Japanese War . This first victory by an Asian army over a European power influenced Chiang's decision to seek a career in the military and to advocate a republic. At the age of 18 he cut his braid and made the decision to go to Japan.

Military training

Chiang stayed in Japan for several months at his own expense without making the desired move into the Japanese military. He returned to China and passed the Baoding Military Academy entrance exam . The following year he went back to Japan, where he attended the Shimbu Gakkō, where Chinese candidates for a degree in the Japanese military academy were trained. During this phase he met Zhang Qun , He Yingqin and Chen Qimei , who were to accompany him for large phases of his life. It was through Chen that Chiang and his friends came into contact with the Tongmenghui , which they later joined. In the summer of 1909, Chiang temporarily returned to Shanghai. There his mother brought him back together with his wife Mao Fumei, without whom he was in Japan and whom he wanted to leave because of her illiteracy and peasant behavior. This encounter resulted in his son Ching-kuo , born in April 1910. In November 1909, Chiang was drafted into the 19th field artillery regiment of the Imperial Japanese Army , where he stood out for his seriousness and loyalty, apart from being one of the poorer officer candidates.

When he heard about the Wuchang uprising and the subsequent Xinhai revolution in 1911 , he rushed back to China - like about 120 of his fellow students. While Chen Qimei was becoming the military governor of Shanghai, Chiang was sent to Zhejiang to command a suicide squad. However, it had little influence on the republican overthrow in the province, just as Chiang generally played a very subordinate role in the events immediately after the Xinhai revolution. He later commanded a regiment of fishermen from his home region and also had to look after the soldiers' maintenance. During this phase he made the acquaintance of Chen Guofu and Chen Lifu, as well as Yao Yecheng , who later became his concubine and raised his adopted son Chiang Wei-kuo .

Commander under Sun Yat-sen

In late 1911, Sun Yat-sen was appointed interim president. Against the protests of Chen Qimei and Chiang Kai-shek, however, he soon resigned this office in favor of Yuan Shikai . In mid-1912, the Kuomintang was founded by merging several republican-minded parties. Sun, Chen and Chiang feared for their safety in the militaristically charged climate and fled to Japan. After the 1913 presidential election, they returned to China and participated in Sun's Second Revolution, which failed. Yuan responded to this coup attempt by persecuting Kuomintang members so that Chiang fled to Japan again, although he was too insignificant and not on Yuan's list of those to be eliminated. In Japan, Chiang swore an oath of allegiance to Sun Yat-sen's new Revolutionary Party, which, among other things, sought a phase of authoritarianism to educate the Chinese people. In 1914, Sun sent Chiang to Shanghai and Manchuria to find allies to attempt another coup against Yuan Shikai. However, these efforts remained without results. On November 10, 1914, the Kuomintang launched another coup attempt in which Chen Qimei and Chiang Kai-shek participated in organizing the murder of Defense Commissioner Zheng Ruzheng . An attack on the police headquarters failed a few days later. This coup attempt and Sun's tactics in connection with Japan's 21 demands on China drove Sun's popularity down, but Chiang remained loyal to Sun.

In the political chaos of the following years, in which Yuan Shikai died and Chen Qimei was murdered, Chiang probably ran criminal business in cooperation with the Green Gang . In March 1918, Chiang was summoned by Sun to Guangdong and became an officer in Chen Jiongming's army . In July, he commanded the troops that wrested a strategically important city in Fujian from a local warlord . At the May 4th Movement of Chiang did not attend, but in the wake of the October Revolution and a few gestures of good will on the part of the Soviet Union Chiang was heavily influenced by anti-imperialist and left ideas. At the same time, however, he speculated on the recently founded stock exchange . In September 1920, Chiang was promoted to Chief of Staff of the 2nd Guangdong Army. Chiang repeatedly came under internal criticism because of his temperament, at the same time the army emerged victorious from many battles.

Chiang's mother died in June 1921, so that Chiang went back to Xikou to mourn his mother according to Chinese ideas of filial piety. Sun Yat-sen, who was about to launch a campaign against the warlords, had to wait. He married 15-year-old Chen Jieru, probably on December 5th . From then on, he began to adopt a new lifestyle: he only drank boiled water, only ate simple meals and dressed in uniform or a Sun jacket without insignia. Meanwhile, Sun fell out with Chen Jiongming, so that Chiang Sun had to rush to help and lead the 2nd Guangdong Army against Chen's troops. Sun ultimately escaped to Shanghai with British help.

A little later, Sun was visited by Comintern representative Maring to propose Soviet help for the Kuomintang. In return, the Kuomintang should enter into a united front with the recently founded Communist Party and reorganize itself according to Leninist principles. Chiang supported Sun in his request to approve the Soviet proposals, in his opinion the Kuomintang should also enter into unsavory alliances for the purpose of unifying China. Starting in August 1923, Chiang was Sun Yat-sen's “most trustworthy representative”, together with three Kuomintang and two Communist Party members in Moscow for three months. On this visit, Chiang did not receive the desired Soviet military aid for the unification of China and the victory against the warlords. After his return he took over the system of political commissars in the army and built up a youth organization modeled on the Komsomol, apart from that there are few positive words to be found in his diaries about the Soviet Union. In June 1924, Chiang attended the opening of the Whampoa Military Academy , which had been founded with Soviet financial aid; he later became its commander and the graduates of this institution represented Chiang's most important power base. He rejected warnings of communist infiltration of the Kuomintang. When Sun Yat-sen died in 1925, Chiang was not a member of the Kuomintang Central Committee or one of its designated successors. However, he had already built a reputation as an energetic military leader and had numerous supporters among the army officers, who also enjoyed the confidence of Soviet advisers.

Northern campaign

On July 1, 1924, a new Kuomintang government was formed in Guangzhou under Wang Jingwei , Liao Zhongkai and Xu Chongzhi . Chiang was elected to the Military Council, after which, at his suggestion, the military of the Kuomintang and the allied warlords were named National Revolutionary Army . Chiang called for rearmament, the integration of Li Zongren's Guangxi Army into the National Revolutionary Army and an early start of the northern campaign to unify China. Chiang's attempts to fight corruption in his subordinate military failed. However, he took over the role of political commissar from the Soviet Red Army and mostly filled these positions with communists, because he considered them to be more reliable and disciplined.

On August 20, 1925, Liao Zhongkai was murdered. At the suggestion of Comintern man Borodin, Chiang became a member of the group of three to investigate the murder. As a result of the work of this group, Xu Chongzhi, who was already known to be corrupt, was sent to Shanghai, while the anti-communist Hu Hanmin had to go to Moscow as a representative of the Kuomintang at the Comintern. Thereafter, the Kuomintang was led by Chiang (military) and Wang (government). Both were then part of the left wing of the Kuomintang: The Shaji massacre in June 1924, in which around 52 protesting Chinese, including 20 graduates from the Whampoa Military Academy , were killed by foreign police officers , had reinforced Chiang's anti-imperialist and anti-colonial attitudes. Chiang believed in brotherhood and in common interests with the Soviet Union in the fight against imperialism. Among other things, he sent his 15-year-old son Chiang Ching-kuo to Moscow, where he studied at the Communist University of the Working People of the East . Chiang also appreciated the work of the communists, especially Zhou Enlai , in mobilizing. In January 1926, Chiang was elected to the Kuomintang Executive Council.

As a result, there were first disputes within the Kuomintang over communist influence. Chiang was dissatisfied with the behavior and tactics of the numerous Soviet advisors. It was important for Chiang to start the northern campaign as soon as possible while Stalin was playing for time. The latter wanted to give the Communist Party time to grow in its early stages of development and feared a possible Japanese reaction to Soviet interference in China. On March 18, 1926, rumors arose of a communist rebellion against Chiang. As a result, Chiang arrested numerous communists on March 20, including Zhou Einlai, but soon released them all. Shortly thereafter, Chiang took over the chairmanship of the military council from Wang Jingwei , who shortly afterwards set off for France. On June 5, Chiang was appointed commander in chief of the National Revolutionary Army and the Northern Campaign. From this point on, he was also referred to as generalissimo abroad. From then on, Chen Guofu , the head of the Kuomintang's organizational department, began to remove members of the Communist Party from leadership positions and to infiltrate political groups such as trade unions, farmers' associations and army units.

When the northern campaign began, Chiang had three corps and the troops of Tang Shengzhi , who had defected from the Hunan warlords to the National Revolutionary Army, available. His plan was to conquer the Hunan Province and the city triplet of Wuhan within a short period of time , from where he wanted to march towards Beijing with the army of Feng Yuxiang . The province of Hunan was easily taken because the troops of the 23 warlords who had divided the province between themselves withdrew or merged with the National Revolutionary Army. Chiang's troops invaded Changsha on July 11 and captured Wuhan in late October. A second arm of the National Revolutionary Army under He Yingqin took the Fujian and Zhejiang provinces in parallel . During this phase of the campaign, Chiang had to deal with numerous bottlenecks and was forced to make numerous decisions at the lowest level.

At the same time, a faction was formed in the Kuomintang that Chiang saw on his way to becoming a military dictator. In October this faction, together with the communists, passed resolutions criticizing the concentration of power in Chiang. In November, she moved the Kuomintang headquarters to Wuhan. In January, Chiang tried to get Wang Jingwei back as party chairman in order to unite the non-communist groups within the Kuomintang. Borodin's attempts to replace Chiang as commander in chief failed, however, because replacement candidate Li Zongren refused to succeed Chiang. In spite of all this, Chiang was able to prevail at the Lushan conference with his proposal to first take Nanjing and Shanghai and then advance north to the troops of Feng Yuxiang. On March 1, 1927, the Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang decided to set up a military council in Chiang and to transfer his party offices to the absent Wang Jingwei. A secret warrant for Chiang's arrest was issued, which was largely ignored and of which Chiang was likely informed. On March 22nd, the National Revolutionary Army under Bai Chongxi marched into Shanghai, which had been prepared by the Kuomintang and the communists with a general strike. Wang Jingwei arrived in Shanghai on April 6th but refused to accept the positions he was offered. Wang and Communist Chen Duxiu issued a statement stating that the Communist Party would not seek any infiltration of the National Revolutionary Army, left Chiang in Shanghai and drove to Wuhan. On April 6, the Kuomintang Oversight Committee , including people like Chang Jieru , Dai Jitao , Chen Guofu and Chen Lifu , decided to remove the communists from the party before they could join the Green Gang of Du Yuesheng and Huang Jinrong . However, Chiang's decision to do this may have been made much earlier. The Shanghai massacre took place on April 12th and 13th , in which thousands of communists and bystanders were killed.

On April 18, Chiang proclaimed an opposing government under Hu Hanmin , which was supposed to be based in Nanjing. Hu ordered the arrest of Borodin and numerous communist leaders, while the Wuhan government removed Chiang from office and offered a high premium for his arrest or murder. In this situation, Chiang had the advantage of controlling the trading and financial centers of Shanghai, Nanjing and Ningbo . With the help of Du Yuesheng he was able to extort large sums of money from the entrepreneurs, and taxes on the opium trade also brought high income. So he was able to continue the northern campaign, with his three corps he took northern Jiangsu . The Wuhan government, however, lost support due to the communists' actions in the countryside in Hunan and Jiangxi .

On June 19, Chiang joined forces with Feng Yuxiang in Xuzhou , whom he was able to support with 2 million yuan a month thanks to his financial resources. Feng immediately removed all communists - including Deng Xiaoping - from his troops. Shortly afterwards, Yan Xishan Chiang joined in and hunted communists in the territories he controlled. However, the National Revolutionary Army was severely defeated by the warlord Sun Chuanfang a little later near Xuzhou .

Chiang marries Song Meiling

In this situation, Chiang proposed reconciliation to his adversary Wang Jingwei, which Wang refused. This prompted Chiang to announce his resignation on August 12, 1927. He withdrew to his hometown of Xikou and called on the Kuomintang to unite and continue the northern campaign. On December 1, he married Sun Yat-sen's sister-in-law Song Meiling in Shanghai , after he had been rejected in 1921. During his absence he welcomed German help in the form of 46 officers under Max Bauer . Extensive plans to modernize the Chinese military have been drawn up. The Kuomintang, on the other hand, soon ran out of funds without access to Chiang's financial resources. Wang had to ask Chiang to return to his old offices; Wang himself, however, withdrew to France. Chiang installed his brother-in-law TV Soong as finance minister, so that the money for the army was soon flowing more abundantly than before.

In April 1928 the National Revolutionary Army stood in front of the city of Jinan , where many Japanese civilians were staying. Tokyo had sent 5,000 soldiers under the command of Fukuda Hikosuku as protection to Jinan. Chiang hesitated to attack the city because he feared a violent reaction from the militarily much stronger Japan, and sought a conversation. The Japanese, on the other hand, massacred the representatives of the Kuomintang government in Jinan and later between 2,000 and 11,000 Chinese civilians and soldiers. There was a wave of indignation, so that a year later Japan withdrew from all of Shandong Province and partially assumed responsibility.

In May 1928, Japan surprised Chiang by declaring that it would accept the capture of Beijing and all of China, with the exception of Manchuria, by the National Revolutionary Army. Beijing was occupied by the National Revolutionary Army in the summer of 1928. On July 6, Chiang met with warlords Feng Yuxiang, Yan Xishan , Bai Chongxi and Li Zongren in the West Mountains near Beijing, where they pledged allegiance to the late President Sun Yat-sen . Chiang soon reached an agreement with the warlord of the northeast, Zhang Xueliang . China was formally united, although government power only reached a relatively small part of the country. As of October 10, Chiang was chairman of the State Council, the Kuomintang and high commander of the military. A demobilization conference was held in January 1929. Chiang announced that he wanted to develop China on the Japanese and German models. However, the previous warlords did not think of giving up their spheres of influence in favor of the central government. There were protracted military and secret service disputes, intrigues and the purchase of supporters. During this phase, Chen Lifu founded a secret service for Chiang with the investigative department of the organization department, Dai Li founded the bureau for investigations and statistics in the military council, a second secret service. These two organizations carried out numerous covert operations, they were responsible for corruption, the disappearance of unpopular people, threats and infiltration.

In April 1929, Zhang Xueliang had the Soviet consulate in Harbin ransacked. In the summer he took over the East China Railway , which had been under joint Russian-Chinese administration since 1896. In response, Soviet troops marched into Manchuria on October 12, 1929, under Chiang's former mentor, General Blücher . They defeated Zhang's strongest troops in a very short time. Contrary to earlier promises, Chiang refused any help and in December 1929 the Khabarovsk Protocol was signed, which gave the Soviet Union more control over the Eastern Railway.

In 1929, the global economic crisis had also hit China, and the communists were on the upswing. Chiang warned of the communist danger, but wanted to defeat the warlords first and then fight the communists. This gave the communist guerrillas enough time to set up their bases and were able to organize themselves into substantial forces. The simultaneous wars with and between the warlords tired the people, numerous bandits, deserters and lost soldiers roamed the country. They were taken in by the guerrillas of the communist party. In June 1930, warlords Li Zongren, Bai Chongi, Yan Xishan and Zhang Fakui allied with Wang Jingwei in the movement to save China from Chiang's dictatorship. In the summer and autumn, a civil war between Chiang and this alliance devastated the provinces of Henan, Hunan and Shandong, killing around 240,000 people, and ultimately the Chiang Central Army triumphed with the help of Zhang Xueliang. In the fall of 1930 the first campaign against the Jiangxi Soviet, commanded by Lu Diping , failed. In April 1931 there was a second campaign of 200,000 soldiers from Feng Yuxiang's army under He Yingqin , which resulted in another failure. On July 1, 1931, a third campaign, personally commanded by Chiang, began with 130,000 soldiers, which developed very promisingly for the Kuomintang. Due to the simultaneous outbreak of fighting between Chinese and Japanese troops in Manchuria, Chiang had to rush back to Nanjing. Chiang decided to appease the Japanese again while Zhang Xueliang withdrew his troops to avoid war. Protests against Chiang's policy on Japan broke out across the country, and Wang Jingwei again founded an anti-government, this time in Guangzhou . While Wang urged Chiang to resign, Chiang called on students and protesters to join the army and fight against Japan. However, the violent protests continued. In this situation, Chiang faced the choice of resigning or becoming a military dictator; However, he saw a war against Japan as a serious threat to China and rejected it. On December 15, 1931, Chiang resigned and retired again to Xikou.

At the request of his wife and after "carefully examining the complex of questions," Chiang had become a Methodist . Later he himself edited a Chinese translation of the Bible and wrote a foreword to a psalm transcription .

After the elimination of the communists and regaining control of northern China, Chiang was recognized abroad as China's new strong man. The number of foreign concessions decreased. The Kuomintang government regained control of taxes and duties that were ceded to foreign powers under the Qing Dynasty. Chiang based his power on the east coast bourgeoisie , whose business interests were safeguarded. The harsh living conditions of the farmers, however, did not improve.

Civil war and war against Japan

Chiang Kai-shek in general uniform, 1943
Chiang Kai-shek with his wife Song Meiling and General Joseph Stilwell , April 1942
Chiang Kai-shek with Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill at the Cairo Conference on November 25, 1943

Japan's invasion of Manchuria began with the Mukden incident in 1931 . It belonged to the Japanese sphere of influence from 1895 to 1905, but the Chinese national government tried to expand its influence there. To protect his position of power, Chiang ordered the withdrawal. In 1932 Japan established its satellite state Manchukuo in Manchuria .

In order to counter Japan's dominance and win the internal Chinese conflict with the communists, it was necessary to press ahead with the modernization of the economy and the military . Chiang received support from Nazi Germany , which relied on Chinese raw materials in the course of its armament . As part of the Sino-German cooperation , Hans von Seeckt worked for Chiang from 1933 to 1935 and then Alexander von Falkenhausen from 1935 to 1938 as military advisers for Chiang.

Since 1930 he tried with his national-Chinese party Kuomintang to extinguish any communist movement. He was thus relatively successful in several campaigns and with extensive sieges, with the exception of the areas controlled by Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung), which was spared by Chiang due to the succession of various coincidences, such as the attack on Japan.

On December 12, 1936, in the Xi'an incident , Chiang was kidnapped by General Zhang Xueliang , who was under Chiang's command but also had his own interests as a long-time warlord. In order to win the power struggle, he relied on the support of the Soviet Union and in return wanted to give up the harassment of the Chinese communists. As early as December 14, 1936, however, the Pravda and Izvestia newspapers condemned the kidnapping. On December 16, the national government launched military action against Zhang Xueliang. He finally gave up and allowed himself to be placed under house arrest by Chiang, from which he was not released until 1990. At the same time, the Soviet Union held out the prospect of letting Chiang's son Chiang Ching-kuo leave the Soviet Union, which Chiang Kai-shek was eagerly awaiting. Chiang decided on an alliance with the communists, which formally lasted until the end of the war with Japan.

During the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), part of the Second World War , Chiang was able to hold on to power despite the fighting with the Japanese on the one hand and the conflict with the communists on the other. Japan's military believed they could occupy China in three months, but this failed because of Chinese resistance in Shanghai; The capture of this city alone lasted four months. Contrary to the opinion of his military advisers, Chiang sent most of his best units to the battle of Shanghai . The Japanese were able to conquer the city, but the bitter resistance strengthened the morale of the Chinese. Chiang had to after the fall of the capital Nanjing to Wuhan and 1938 by Chongqing retire, but he managed to inflict the Japanese severe setbacks such as 1938 in the battle of taierzhuang or four battles around Changsha in 1939 , 1941 , 1942 and 1944 .

Chiang's dike breach action in Henan Province on the Yellow River on June 9, 1938 with the idea of ​​stopping the Japanese army by flooding entire provinces resulted in almost a million deaths. The flooding caused the Japanese campaign to be interrupted for months. The survivors were forced to rebuild the dykes at Japanese gunpoint; not until 1947 were all the dikes rebuilt.

Mao Zedong and Chiang had officially forged a (second) united front against the Japanese. But this was only a fragile peace. Chiang and Mao knew that they would need their armies for the foreseeable internal Chinese conflict.

After the start of the war, despite increasing corruption and decreasing popular support, Chiang was supported by the USA initially until 1945 and then until 1949 with two billion US dollars each.

Defeat by Mao 1945–1948 - retreat to Taiwan

National Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei

The entry into the war of the Soviet Union against Japan took place in accordance with the decisions of the Yalta Conference with its invasion of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo (Manchuria) on August 8, 1945 . The rapid success enabled Stalin to influence China again. In addition to the areas conquered in Operation August Storm , the captured weapons were also to be handed over to the Chinese government in accordance with the contract. While Manchuria was handed over to the Republic of China after the Red Army withdrew , captured military equipment after the defeat of Japan also went to the Chinese Communist Party.

This ended the alliance between Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang and Mao Zedong's Communist Party and the conflict flared up again. In the meantime the state organs of the Republic of China have been moved back to Nanjing . After a constitutional commission had finished its work, nationwide elections for the National Assembly and the Legislative Chamber were held in 1947. Surprisingly, mostly independent candidates won, followed by the Kuomintang, the Social Democrats and the Young China Party . Because of the increasing disputes with the People's Liberation Army , the National Assembly decided immediately after its constitution to pass special laws that should give the future president de facto dictatorial powers to defend the constitutional order for the period of the “communist rebellion”. Only then did the National Assembly elect Chiang Kai-shek as president with 2,430 votes. Jurist Ju Zheng lost with 269 votes.

Mao's military victories led to systematic terror in the conquered areas, including in particular the persecution and killing of "capitalists" and "big landowners" as well as clergy from all religious communities, people with foreign connections and supporters of the Kuomintang and other parties. In 1949 the communists were finally victorious. Chiang Kai-shek and his followers withdrew to Taiwan , which had been returned to China by the treaty of surrender.

Chiang Kai-shek and the South Korean Prime Minister Syngman Rhee in
South Korea in August 1949

In December 1949, the new seat of the constitutional organs of the Republic of China with a temporary capital, Taipei , was established in Taiwan . Only Taiwan and the strategically important archipelagos Pescadores , Dachen Islands (Tachen Islands), Nanchi , Jinmen (Quemoy) and Matsu , the latter four directly in front of the Chinese mainland , now belonged to the territory of the Republic of China on Taiwan . In this position, Chiang continued to claim all of China.

In Taiwan, Chiang Kai-shek established an authoritarian regime within the legal framework of special laws conferred on him by the National Assembly in 1948. Under this dictatorial leadership, the economy and the education system could be promoted, which is why Chiang's rule was referred to as a "development dictatorship". Democratic processes, on the other hand, were limited to the municipalities and districts. The worship of Chiang was often compared to the personality cult of his rival Mao Zedong (Chiang Kai-shek statues) and was only ended in 1987 by his son Chiang Ching-kuo .

Chiang Kai-shek officially pursued a policy of retaking China between 1950 and 1975. Taiwan received financial and material support from the USA. The massacre of the population in 1947 was not dealt with until the end of the 1990s. Chiang's rump parliament  - not all members of the Republican National Assembly had moved to Taiwan - was a permanent provisional arrangement with no actual legislative function. After the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, Taiwan received military support from the USA in order  to set clear boundaries for the People's Republic of China - even after the occupation of Tibet . The United States struggled to keep Chiang's military blockades on the Taiwan Straits and the resistance to artillery fire from the People's Republic in a status quo . In 1955, Taiwan had to cede the Dachen Islands and Nanchi to the People's Republic of China; the residents were previously evacuated with US assistance.

He remained President of the Republic of China until his death in 1975 . He was re-elected four times (1954, 1960, 1966 and 1972) by the National Assembly, which was last elected for all of China in 1947, with no opposing candidates. Chiang saw his own role as authoritarian ruling president only as a necessary evil to defend the Republic of China and the constitutional doctrine of the teachings of Sun Yat-sen (State independence, economic justice and democracy). As a result, Chiang told US General Wedemeyer: “If I die while I am still a dictator, I will surely be forgotten like other dictators. On the other hand, if I succeed in creating the stable foundation for a democratic government, I will live forever in every family in China. "

Diplomatic decline from 1964

An example of the controversy surrounding Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan today. This sculpture, which was installed in Kaohsiung in 1981, was dismantled in 2007, with parts being lost. In the Cihu Sculpture Park in Daxi, it was rebuilt without the missing parts as a "post-modern representation".

After the Sino-Soviet rift and the detonation of China's first own atomic bomb in 1964/65, the Republic of China's position of international power was weakened. The People's Republic of China was recognized by more and more states as a representation. After renouncing compensation for war damage, the People's Republic succeeded in gaining diplomatic recognition from Japan in 1972. In 1973 Taiwan was only regarded as the official representative of China by 39 states (2006: 23 states).

Chiang Kai-shek died on April 5, 1975 in Taiwan's capital Taipei. He was succeeded as President by Vice President Yen Chia-kan , who held the office until 1978. Afterwards, power essentially passed to Chiang's son Chiang Ching-kuo , who as prime minister also took over the presidency a short time later.


In 1937, Chiang Kai-shek and his wife were named “ Man of the Year ” by Time .


In Taipei , the international airport was named after Chiang Kai-shek until September 2006. See also Chiang Kai-shek National Memorial Hall . In addition, statues and portraits in public places and in public buildings in Taiwan have been reminiscent of Chiang for years. Main streets are named after him in almost all cities and towns in Taiwan.

After Taiwan's democratization, efforts to break with the personality cult of bygone times increased. In many places Chiang's portraits have been removed and banknotes with his likeness taken out of circulation. On December 5, 2017, the Legislative Yuan passed a law requiring the removal of any glorifying memory of the dictatorship from public space and the renaming of streets and public facilities in addition to the complete removal of images of Chiang. In Taipei, the National Human Rights Museum, which is located on the site of the former military court, commemorates the time of the "White Terror". A human rights park has been set up on Lü Dao Island , where a former camp and prison can be viewed.


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  • Thomas Weyrauch: China's neglected republic. 100 years in the shadow of world history. Volume 2 (1950-2011). Longtai, 2011, ISBN 978-3-938946-15-2 .

Web links

Commons : Chiang Kai-shek  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Jay Taylor: The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China . 1st edition. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2009, ISBN 978-0-674-03338-2 , pp. 12-14 .
  2. Jay Taylor: The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China . 1st edition. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2009, ISBN 978-0-674-03338-2 , pp. 14-16 .
  3. Jay Taylor: The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China . 1st edition. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2009, ISBN 978-0-674-03338-2 , pp. 17-21 .
  4. Jay Taylor: The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China . 1st edition. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2009, ISBN 978-0-674-03338-2 , pp. 21-26 .
  5. Jay Taylor: The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China . 1st edition. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2009, ISBN 978-0-674-03338-2 , pp. 26-30 .
  6. Jay Taylor: The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China . 1st edition. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2009, ISBN 978-0-674-03338-2 , pp. 30-36 .
  7. a b Jay Taylor: The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China . 1st edition. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2009, ISBN 978-0-674-03338-2 , pp. 36-48 .
  8. Jay Taylor: The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China . 1st edition. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2009, ISBN 978-0-674-03338-2 , pp. 50-51 .
  9. a b Jay Taylor: The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China . 1st edition. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2009, ISBN 978-0-674-03338-2 , pp. 49-57 .
  10. Jay Taylor: The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China . 1st edition. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2009, ISBN 978-0-674-03338-2 , pp. 57-61 .
  11. Jay Taylor: The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China . 1st edition. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2009, ISBN 978-0-674-03338-2 , pp. 61-68 .
  12. Thomas Weyrauch: China's neglected republic. Vol. 1, p. 127 f.
  13. Jay Taylor: The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China . 1st edition. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2009, ISBN 978-0-674-03338-2 , pp. 68-70 .
  14. Jay Taylor: The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China . 1st edition. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2009, ISBN 978-0-674-03338-2 , pp. 70-72 .
  15. Jay Taylor: The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China . 1st edition. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2009, ISBN 978-0-674-03338-2 , pp. 61, 72-78 .
  16. Jay Taylor: The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China . 1st edition. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2009, ISBN 978-0-674-03338-2 , pp. 78-82 .
  17. Jay Taylor: The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China . 1st edition. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2009, ISBN 978-0-674-03338-2 , pp. 82-86 .
  18. Jay Taylor: The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China . 1st edition. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2009, ISBN 978-0-674-03338-2 , pp. 86-87 .
  19. Jay Taylor: The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China . 1st edition. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2009, ISBN 978-0-674-03338-2 , pp. 88-96 .
  20. Every sun sets once . In: Der Spiegel . No. 10 , 1950, p. 18 ( online ).
  21. Jacques Gernet; The Chinese world. Suhrkamp, ​​pp. 532-534.
  22. Jung Chang, Jon Halliday, Mao. A man's life. The fate of a people. 2nd ed., Pantheon, 2008, pp. 240-250.
  23. Jacques Gernet: The Chinese World. Suhrkamp, ​​p. 537.
  24. Thomas Weyrauch: China's neglected republic. Vol. 1, pp. 272 ​​ff., 280 ff.
  25. Thomas Weyrauch: China's neglected republic. Vol. 1, p. 311 ff .; Thomas Weyrauch: China's neglected republic. Vol. 2, p. 17 ff .; Frank Dikötter: The Tragedy of Liberation. P. 85 ff.
  26. Remembering Taiwan's martial law. BBC News, July 13, 2007.
  27. ^ Taiwan Ends 4 Decades of Martial Law. In: New York Times, July 15, 1987.
  28. Thomas Weyrauch: China's neglected republic. Vol. 2, p. 79 ff.
  29. Hinnerk Berlekamp: The Generalissimo as a non-person. In: Berliner Zeitung . January 8, 2008, accessed June 17, 2015 .
  30. ^ Matthias Nass: The silent revolution in small China. In: Die Zeit No. 32/1993. August 6, 1993. Retrieved June 17, 2015 .
  31. Thomas Weyrauch: China's neglected republic. Vol. 2, p. 58.
  32. Assessment of Chiang's politics after 1950: Thomas Weyrauch: Chinas Democratic Traditions. P. 275 ff.
  33. ^ Taiwan acts to purge authoritarian past , The Straits Times, December 7, 2017.
  34. ^ Processing in Chinese. Hubertus Knabe , June 2, 2019, accessed on June 21, 2019 .