Chiang Kai-Shek

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Chiang Kai-shek (October 31, 1887 – April 5, 1975) was a nationalist and capitalist dictator and military leader of 20th century China and later of Taiwan. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí (蔣介石) or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng (蔣中正) in Mandarin.


The Chinese civil war pitted Mao Tse-Tung's Communists against Chiang Kai-Shek's Nationalists. The United States backed Chiang, but when he couldn't do the job they also supported Japanese troops fighting the Communists, even before WWII had ended. Hated for his wanton cruelty, corruption, and decadence, Chiang did not enjoy the support of the Chinese people; entire divisions of the Nationalist army defected and fled to the island of Formosa (Taiwan). A presidential commission appointed by Harry Truman reported after Chiang's arrival there that his forces "ruthlessly, corruptly, and avariciously imposed their regime on the population. Under Nationalist rule, 85% of the population was disenfranchised, but the onset of the Korean War and the anti-communist hysteria of the McCarthy era led the US to declare that the tiny island represented the real government of China. The US was crucial in keeping mainland China out of the UN until 1971. Chiang gave the World Anti-Communist League (an international organization with links to Nazis, drug smugglers, and the CIA) its first home, permitting WACL members to use a military academy there to train troops for Latin American military coups. President Carter tried to cut US ties to WACL, but Ronald Reagan received campaign funds from the group, and WACL became involved with training and supplying contras in Argentina and Taiwan. Chiang Kai-Shek died in 1975, but many of his policies continue in Taiwan.