Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí. Chiang was an influential member of the Nationalist Party, the Kuomintang (KMT), and was a close ally of former president 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. A major split between the Nationalists and Communists occurred in 1927; under Chiang's leadership, the Nationalists fought a nation-wide civil war against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
After American-sponsored attempts to negotiate a coalition government failed in 1946, the Chinese Civil War resumed. The CCP defeated the Nationalists in 1949, forcing Chiang's government to retreat to Taiwan, where Chiang imposed martial law and persecuted people critical of his rule 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 the island as the self-appointed President of the Republic of China and Director-General of the Kuomintang until his death in 1975.