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Young & Kent: International Relations since 1945 2e

Chiang Kai-shek

Chiang Kai-shek (1887-1975) embarked upon military education in 1906 at the Paoting Military Academy but left a year later and continued his education at the Military State Academy in Japan. In 1911 Chiang returned to China and joined Sun Yat-sen’s United Revolutionary League, forerunner of the Kuomintang Nationalist Party (KMT). Chiang took part in the overthrow of the imperial government and was active between 1913 and 1916 in attempts to overthrow Yüan Shih-kai. When the Guangzhou government was established in 1917, he served as Sun Yat-sen’s military aide. In 1923-4 he was sent by Sun to the USSR to study military organisation. In 1926 he led the victorious army into Shanghai and Nanjing. He cooperated with the Chinese Communists until 1927 but then initiated a long civil conflict with them. Chiang led the Kuomintang by the end of 1927, and a year later became head of the Nationalist government at Nanjing. In 1937 the Japanese Army invaded China and in an effort to defeat the Japanese, Chiang agreed to collaborate with Mao Zedong and his forces. When the Japanese were finally expelled in 1945, Chiang failed to reach a settlement with the Communists and fighting between the Kuomintang and the Communists continued. A new Constitution was promulgated in 1947, and Chiang was elected by the National Assembly to be President. However, the Communists refused to recognise the new Constitution or Chiang’s government as legitimate representatives of China. Chiang resigned as President on 21 January 1949 as KMT forces suffered massive losses to the Communists. In December Chiang Kai-shek escaped to Formosa (Taiwan). He resumed his duties of president of ‘nationalist’ China in Taipei, Taiwan, on 1 March 1950. In that position he continued to claim sovereignty over all of China. His international position, however, was weakened considerably in 1971 when the United Nations withdrew recognition of his regime, recognising the Communists as the sole legitimate government of China (PRC) with a permanent seat on the Security Council.