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History Lessons by Jonathan Gifford

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CHIANG KAI SHEK

(1887–1975)

Chiang Kai Shek is often described as “the man who lost China.” It is also true to say that, without Chiang, there would not have been a China to lose. After the collapse of China’s last Imperial Dynasty, a brief period of republican government was hijacked by its new President—a previous commander of the Imperial army. He declared himself to be the new Emperor. Chinese provinces rebelled once more, but with the collapse of any form of central government, the country fragmented into a collection of territories governed by various strongmen who had sufficient troops and resources to control a territory. The age of the warlords had arrived; China, the birthplace of civilization, had been knocked back into a kind of feudalism. ...

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