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Chiang Kaishek's Experience with Britain and his Private Thoughts, 1917-1949

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Ruth Rushworth.

Chen Yung-fa (Modern History Institute of the Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan) will give a series of three public lectures and a concluding symposium on The Meaning of the Chinese Communist Revolution.


Despite the efforts to woo the Chinese Communist Party, Britain was unable to protect and to preserve its economic interests in Communist-occupied China.  Using all the means available to it, the Communist regime squeezed and confiscated British properties and cleaned out the last vestiges of British imperialism in China.  Only after China reopened its door to the capitalist world, while insisting on the restoration of control over the Kowloon area that consisted of more than 90% of the British colony of Hong Kong, did the British government agree to return Hong Kong island, thus fulfilling the dream of a generation of Chinese intellectuals who hoped to wipe clean the remains of British imperialism.  As the foreign policy of Chiang Kaishek’s government is well known to historians, this essay only seeks to examine his experiences with the British during his mainland China years.  Chiang’s diaries, which are now available, show how he reacted to the Shameen tragedy in which many of his cadets were killed by British machineguns, how he reacted to the British defense of Burma and India, and how he reacted to Churchill’s determination to hold the Empire intact and to perpetuate British privileges in Hong Kong and Tibet.

This talk is part of the Humanitas series.

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