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Chiang Kai-shek was born into a salt-merchant family in Fenghua, Zhejiang Province. After his father died, Chiang went to Ningpo to study in 1905 and decided to pursue a military career. Chiang attended a military academy in Tokyo, Japan from 1907 to 1910 and served in the Imperial Japanese Army from 1909 to 1911. During this period, Chiang joined the anti-Qing revolutionary movement, Tongmenghui. After completing military training with the Japanese Army, he returned to China in 1911, took part in the Xinhai Revolution and became a founding member of the Kuomintang.
Chiang was appointed by Sun Yat-sen as Commandant of the Whampoa Military Academy in 1924. At Whampoa, Chiang organized his personal military clique, the Whampoa Clique, which provided a source of support during his leadership of the Kuomintang. In 1925, upon Sun’s death, Chiang involved in a power struggle with Wang Jingwei, competing for the leadership of the Kuomintang. In 1926 Chiang launched the Northern Expedition in order to defeat the warlords controlling northern China and to unify the country under the Kuomintang.
Following the Nationalists’ defeat in Xuzhou, Chiang resigned from his position and was replaced by Li Zongren as commander of the National Revolutionary Army in 1927. Chiang was briefly reinstated to his former position in 1929 before totally deposed from the government by the coalition of regional warlords led by Yan Xishan and Feng Yuxiang in the Central Plains War on 1930.
Following the defeat of China and the loss of Manchuria in the Second Sino-Japanese War, Chiang's prominence and influences on the Nationalist government was restored with the backing by the militarist Whampoa clique, the traditionalist Central Club clique, the technocratic Political Study Clique, and the Green Gang criminal organization and he took the position as the Chairman of Executive Yuan in 1932. Chiang then started to accelerate the industrialization and modernize the military of China with the help of Nazi Germany.
Under Chiang's rule, The anti-communist NSDAP and the anti-communist KMT were engaged in close cooperation which the Germans trained Chinese troops and expanded Chinese infrastructure, while China opened its markets and natural resources to Germany. China entered World War II in 1941 on the side of Axis Powers, declared war on the United Kingdom, France, and Japan, and invaded British Hong Kong, Manchuria, Korea, French Indochina, and British Burma. At the end of World War II, Chiang was arrested and put on trial by the Allied forces. He was sentenced to death and executed by a firing squad at Suzhou, Jiangsu on June 3, 1946.