Chiang Kai-shek (October 31, 1887 – April 5, 1975), also romanized as Chiang Chieh-shih and known as Chiang Chungcheng, was a Chinese political and military leader who served as the leader of the Republic of China between 1928 and 1975. Chiang was an influential member of the Kuomintang (KMT), the Chinese Nationalist Party, and was a close ally of Sun Yat-sen's. He became the Commandant of the Kuomintang's Whampoa Military Academy and took Sun's place as leader of the KMT, following the Canton Coup in early 1926. Having neutralized the party's left wing, Chiang then led Sun's long-postponed Northern Expedition, conquering or reaching accommodations with China's many warlords.
From 1928 to 1948, he served as chairman of the National Military Council of the Nationalist Government of the Republic of China (ROC). Chiang Kai-shek was socially conservative, promoting traditional Chinese culture in the New Life Movement, and rejecting both western democracy and Sun's nationalist democratic socialism in favour of an authoritarian government. Unable to maintain Sun's good relations with the Communists, he purged them in a massacre at Shanghai and repression of uprisings at Guangzhou and elsewhere.
At the onset of the Second Sino-Japanese War, which later became the Chinese theater of World War II, Zhang Xueliang kidnapped Chiang and obliged him to establish a Second United Front with the Communists. After the defeat of the Japanese, the American-sponsored Marshall Mission, an attempt to negotiate a coalition government, failed in 1946. The Chinese Civil War resumed, with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) led by Mao Zedong defeating the Nationalists and declaring the People's Republic of China in 1949. Chiang's government and army retreated to Taiwan, where Chiang imposed martial law and persecuted critics in a period known as the "White Terror".
After evacuating to Taiwan, Chiang's government continued to declare its intention to retake mainland China. Chiang ruled Taiwan securely as President of the Republic of China and General of the Kuomintang until his death in 1975, just one year short of Mao's death.
Similarly to that of Mao, Chiang is regarded as a controversial figure; supporters credit him with playing a major part in the Allied victory of the Second World War; detractors and critics denounce him as a dictator at the front of an authoritarian autocracy who suppressed and purged opponents and critics and arbitrarily incarcerated those he deemed as opposing to the Kuomintang among others.