Chiang Kai-shek (October 31, 1887 – April 5, 1975) was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin.
Chiang was an influential member of the Nationalist Party, the Kuomintang (KMT), and was a close ally of Sun Yat-sen. He became the Commandant of the Kuomintang's Whampoa Military Academy, and took Sun's place as leader of the KMT when Sun died in 1925. In 1926, Chiang led the Northern Expedition to unify the country, becoming China's nominal leader. He served as Chairman of the National Military Council of the Nationalist government of the Republic of China (ROC) from 1928 to 1948. Chiang led China in the Second Sino-Japanese War, during which the Nationalist government's power severely weakened, but his prominence grew. Chiang Kai-shek was socially conservative, promoting traditional Chinese culture in the New Life Movement, and economically, he used heavy government control and intervention, at times against private enterprises.
Chiang grew up in a time period in which military defeats and civil wars among warlords had left China destabilized and in debt, and he decided to pursue a military career. He began his military education at the Baoding Military Academy, in 1906. He then left for the Tokyo Shinbu Gakko (東京振武學校), an Imperial Japanese Army Academy Preparatory School for Chinese students, in 1907. There he was influenced by his compatriots to support the revolutionary movement to overthrow the Qing Dynasty and to set up a Chinese republic. He befriended fellow Zhejiang native Chen Qimei, and, in 1908, Chen brought Chiang into the Tongmenghui, a precursor of the Kuomintang (KMT) organiza
In 1917, Sun Yat-sen moved his base of operations to Guangzhou, and Chiang joined him in 1918. At this time Sun remained largely sidelined; and, without arms or money, was soon expelled from Guangzhou and exiled again to Shanghai. He was restored to Guangzhou with mercenary help in 1920. After returning to Guangzhou, a rift developed between Sun, who sought to militarily unify China under the KMT, and Guangdong Governor Chen Jiongming, who wanted to implement a federalist system with Guangdong as a model province. On June 16, 1923 Chen attempted to assassinate Sun and had his residence shelled. During a prolonged skirmish between the troops of these opposing forces, Sun and his wife Soong Ching-ling narrowly evaded heavy machine gun fire and were rescued by gunboats under Chiang's direction. The incident earned Chiang the trust of Sun Yat-sen.