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Who Was Chiang Kai-shek? Sun Yat-sen's Successor!

Updated on November 24, 2012

Was Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek a Hero or a Coward in Chinese History?

Chiang Kai-shek was leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) for fifty years, after Dr Sun Yat-sen died in 1925.

Chiang was a Chinese military and political leader, and head of China's Nationalist government, between 1928 and 1949, until defeated by Mao Zedong's communists. Chiang then fled to Formosa (Taiwan) and established government there, continuing his claim for sovereignty over all of mainland China until his death in 1975.

Image: Public Domain | Lens Updated: Nov 24th, 2012 @ 4:40 pm Beijing time.

Chiang Kai-shek

Generalissimo & Nationalist Politician

1887 - 1975 CE

Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek

Chiang Kai-shek on Wikipedia

See what the online reference has to say...

Chiang Kai-shek (October 31, 1887 to April 5, 1975 CE) was a political and military leader of 20th century China.

He was an influential member of the nationalist party Kuomintang (KMT) and Sun Yat-sen's close ally. He became the commandant of Kuomintang's Whampoa Military Academy and took Sun's place in the party when the latter died in 1925. In 1928, Chiang led the Northern Expedition to unify the country, becoming China's overall leader. He served as chairman of the National Military Council of the Nationalist Govt. of the Republic of China (ROC) from 1928 to 1948...

read the rest of the Wikipedia article

Chiang Kai-shek colour
Chiang Kai-shek colour

Slaughter in Shanghai - After the capture of Shanghai from the warlords, he launched a massacre of the communists, previously allies in this war.


WWII equipment misuse - Weapons and equipment from the USA meant for use against the Japanese were held back for the civil war to come.


The execution of prisoners - He ordered the death of communists held captive in prisons at Baigongguan and Zhazidong before fleeing to Taiwan with gold and other state treasures from the Chinese mainland.

Chiang Kai-shek: | Wikimedia

Chinese Nationalism and the Civil War

Visiting the Baigongguan and Zhazidong prisons in Chongqing is an eye-opener to the real character of Chiang Kai-shek and his quest for control of China.

Baigongguan and Zhazidong KMT Prison Camps

Shoes of executed child in Zhazidong Prison Camp at Chongqing
Shoes of executed child in Zhazidong Prison Camp at Chongqing

Image: drs2biz.

On August 10th, 2006, I was about to depart from Chongqing for a trip down the Yangtze River to the 3 Gorges Dam at Yichang. Before leaving Chongqing, however, I was persuaded to go for a day tour of two museum/prisons at Baigongguan and Zhazidong. I'm glad I took this tour as it was a real eye-opener. The items on display were all neatly labelled, but I could not understand most of them because they were written in Chinese. Several of my friends helped me by translating the signs for me when I returned to Haikou, however, and they are truly poignant.

The communist revolutionaries were a mixed bunch, but included poets, housewives, children and soldiers. When I captured an image of a child's pair of shoes, I guessed the worst and I was correct. The child was executed with its mother on the day of the mass slaughter of these inmates. This was a turning point for me in my education about Chinese history of the 20th century. The "penny dropped" and I realised that all of the mantras I had been taught about Chinese history in my schooling was lacking in depth, to be polite, (some may say it was politicised). Chiang Kai-shek was not entirely the hero I had been led to believe!

There are images and biographies of the martyrs, at these museums, that would be of exceptional interest if they were translated into English. Maybe an idea for a new lens?

Baigongguan and Zhazidong Prisons in Chongqing - Chiang Kai-shek had prisoners executed before fleeing to Taiwan...

Escape Route for Lucky 15
Escape Route for Lucky 15

The 27th November, 1949 will be remembered as a day of infamy by the people of China. It was just three days before Chongqing was reclaimed by the communists from the Kuomintang soldiers of Chiang Kai-shek. Mao Zedong had declared the People's Republic of China in Beijing the previous month, and the civil war was finally over. Before the KMT Nationalist government fled from their capital city of Chongqing, however, Chiang Kai-shek ordered the execution of all the revolutionaries in Zhazidong and Baigongguan prisons. His men gathered all the prisoners in the ground level cells under the pretext of "transferring" them. They locked the cells and fired sub-machine guns through the windows. Then they entered the cells to shoot prisoners who still lived, and lit a fire to destroy the buildings.

So now what do you think of Chiang Kai-shek? - What is his position in Chinese history do you think?

A young Chiang Kai-shek in uniform
A young Chiang Kai-shek in uniform

Is Chiang Kai-shek a worthy candidate for a hero of Chinese history?

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Was Chiang Kai-shek a Hero or Villian? - Have your say about this controversial figure...

Was Chiang a brutal mass murderer or a champion of democracy?

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What's Your Opinion About Chiang Kai-shek? - Have a say about whether he was a hero or a villain...

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      David Schroeter 4 years ago from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

      @anonymous: Thanks, TP1, for your additional information. I remember from my High School history lessons that he was a hero for taking on the dreaded communists. As a result, my slant on him was positive. When I actually visited the prisons (see above) and saw the dead child's slippers, however, my opinion was challenged. History doesn't always portray an accurate image of the individual... particularly when politics comes into play.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @delia-delia: Please try to understand clearly who this Generalissimo clearly stood up for and what he did to the Chinese nation. Chiang Kai-shek suffered a fatal heart attack and a bout of pneumonia, because the eventual cause of death was renal failure aggravated by advanced heart disease. At the Xi'an Incident, Chiang Kai-Shek gets kidnapped at Sian on December 12, 1936, by the Manchurian warlord Zhang Xueliang, so Chiang was forced to accept his demands that he should join the Communists in a united front against Japan. After having lengthy negotiations, Chiang was released by returning to Nanking as a national hero and the Second United Front between KMT and Communist leaders was formed soon afterward. So eventually, the peaceful agreement between those two parties were uneasy and their actual cooperation within having a united military front was rare. The two parties really didn't get along with each other in diplomatic and military relationships,.....then..dun.dun..dun the Second-Sino Japanese War began in 1937.

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      David Schroeter 7 years ago from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

      @delia-delia: Thanks for visiting, d-artist. I think he was a little unbalanced myself, but he is still a hero to millions of people.

    • drs2biz lm profile image
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      David Schroeter 7 years ago from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

      @anonymous: Thanks, Paul. Hey... you should login to Squidoo before you comment. That way we can all see your avatar!

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 7 years ago

      Hello from a Squidoo Greeter! Interesting lens... Chiang Kai-shek was nuts just like Hitler

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Another brilliant lens from DRS2BIZ