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Persons in Chinese History - Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi 蔣介石)

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Chiang Kai-shek 蔣介石 (1887-1975; Jiang Jieshi, in the West pronounced in Cantonese dialect) was one of the military leaders of the National People's Party Kuomintang (KMT) 國民黨 and became the prevalent person after the Northern Expedition against the Beiyang warlords. Chiang Kai-shek is known as the conservative antagonist of the Communist party and its social revolution.
Chiang, like the father of the revolution, Sun Yat-sen 孫中山 of humble origin, studied at military academies in China and Japan where he entered Sun Yat-sens revolutionary alliance, the Tongmenghui 同盟會 in 1908. After the outbreak of the revolution in 1911 and again during the early phase of the GMD military government in Guangzhou (Canton)/Guangdong he sided with Sun Yat-sen and his party. A tighter relation with the father of the revolution was only generated when Chiang accompanied Sun Yatsen during his flight to Shanghai in 1922. After several months that Chiang passed as head of a study commission in Moscow he was installed as director of the Huangpu Military Academy (in the West known as Whampoa; Huangpu junxiao 黃埔軍校) where military and political caders of the GMD and the allied Communist Party were trained. His first military laurels were won during the campaign against the Guangdong warlord Chen Jiongming 陳炯明. Although he has not been one of the veterans of the GMD, Chiang Kai-shek had a good position for the succession struggle after the dead of Sun Yat-sen in 1925. In the same year Liao Zhongkai 廖仲愷, also a leader of the Whampoa Academy, was murdered, and the only serious competitor among the party ranks was Wang Jingwei 汪精衛 who founded a GMT government in Wuhan 武漢 after the first phase of the Northern Expedition (Beifa 北伐) in 1926. Chiang dissolved the united front with the Communist Party and expelled the Comintern advisors with the argument that they had tried to undermine the GMD. The success during the Northern Expedition demonstrated the military superiority of the GMD armies and contributed to Chiang's rise into the central executive commitee of the Nationalist Party. After a short interlude when Chiang drew back from the political theatre, he finished the Northern Expedition by conquering Beijing in 1928. Chiang Kai-shek proclaimed the national government of united China with the capital at Nanjing. The next ten years are known as the Nanjing decade.
In 1927 after Chiang had resumed his posts upon the political pressure of Wang Jingwei he had married with Song Meiling 宋美齡, as sister of Song Qingling 宋慶齡, Mme. Sun Yat-sen. His relationship to the Song clan, one of the mightiest and wealthiest families of the eastern metropole Shanghai, ensured him political influence upon and support by the bourgeoisie and the great merchants, especially through his brother-in-law Song Ziwen 宋子文 (T.V. Soong) who became financial minister in the Nanjing government. In 1930 Chiang was baptized.
At the begin of the 1930es, two dangers challenged China and Chiang Kai-shek's government. The first was the internal danger by the Communist soviets that were founded in rural areas in the provinces of Jiangxi, Shaanxi and Yunnan. The second challenge came from outside: Japan had occupied Manchuria in 1932 and proclaimed a puppet state named Manzhouguo 滿州國. Chiang Kai-shek's political directive was first to settle the internal disruptions before solving the Manchurian problem. In five annihilation campaigns between 1930 and 1934 he tried to conquer the soviet areas and to exterminate the Communists. In 1934 finally he conquered the Jiangxi soviet and caused the flight of the Communists to the west that was later known as the Long March. Since 1935 Chiang Kai-shek was the single leader of the GMD.
A second united from the with Communists came only in existence with the incident at Xi'an/Shaanxi in 1936 when the Young Marshal Zhang Xueliang 張學良 kidnapped Chiang Kai-shek and forced him to unite with the communists against the Japanese aggression. Nonetheless, the strongly anti-communist Chiang attacked the 4th Communist Army during the war instead of fighting the Japanese. The political institutions necessary to maintain the government during the war played all political and military power into the hands of Chiang Kai-shek. From 1941 on he obtain financial support by the United States and was accepted as leader of a super-power: 1943 Chiang attended the Conference at Kairo, together with Roosevelt and Churchill, and in 1945 China became member of the Security Council of the United Nations.
The major problem for the GMD in the following civil war against the Communists was the bad moral or Chiang
Chiang Kai-shek's main fault was that he overestimated the danger by the communists during the early 1930es and bound political, military and financial sources for the extinction of the Communists. He spent too much sources for these internal question, and the Japanese forces intruding China form 1937 on did not face any substantial resistance. And although Chiang announced a so-called tutelage period as transgression to a democracy he did not undertake the social reforms that had been planned by Sun Yat-sen and that would have been substantially to ensure popular support for the GMD. This role was overtaken by the Communists that should become the political force that was much more popular than the corrupt officials and the barbarious soldiers of the GMD.

Zhongguo zhi mingyun 中國之命運 "The Fate of China"

The book Zhongguo zhi mingyun 中國之命運 "The Fate of China" was published in 1943 under the name of Jiang Kai-shek 蔣介石 although it was really written by Tao Xisheng 陶希聖. In the book Jiang Kai-shek’s interpretation of modern Chinese history is explained, as well as an outline of his political plans. His interpretation of history was the China’s fate ever depended on foreign trade, whereas the modern challenge would be to restructure the inner system. Repelling outer enemies, in the concrete case, the Japanese invaders, could only be done effectively when the inner enemy, i. e. the Communist Party, was suppressed. The highest, and never changing principle of the revolution in China, he said, was unitarism (yigezhuyi 一個主義), and a one-party system. The country would only be saved if the minds of the whole people would concentrate on this principle. Unity in thought was the prerogative for a united country. The one-party state and political unity was his interpretation of Sun Yatsen’s Three Principles (sanminzhuyi 三民主義). The Kuomintang was the only revolutionary party changing the country. Besides the Communist Party his main targets were liberal parties which would not be able to save the country because they were unable to unite the population and exert the necessary revolutionary measures. The Communist Party, on the other side, was too aggressive in his eyes and would destroy all cultural values making out China’s strength.

Source: Yan Ruping 嚴如平, Zuo Buqing 左步青 (1992), "Zhongguo zhi mingyun 中國之命運", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 3, pp. 1567-1568.

March 8, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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