Chiang's allies were “a kidnapper, a hooligan and a bully” but which was which?

Chiang's allies were “a kidnapper, a hooligan and a bully” but which was which?

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Chiang Kai-shek complained bitterly about his allies Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union (the latter admittedly not at war with Japan till the very end).

But when he stated that China's relationship with the other three was like "a weak man meeting a kidnapper, a hooligan and a bully" did he have a specific ally in mind for each role (Britain, for example, perhaps viewed by the Chinese as the "kidnapper" who had stolen Hong Kong) or did he just mean they were all three dangerous and overbearing?

Short Answer

The Kidnapper is the United States/Roosevelt. The Hooligan is Britain/Churchill. The Bully was the Soviet Union/Stalin.

For reference, this is the original passage from Chiang's diary:


Of the four members of the United Nations, we are the weakest; it is dangerous for the weak to be with a kidnapper, a hooligan and a bully. If a person does not strengthen themselves, no one else can help. And if a country does not strengthen itself, then friend or foe both see you as meat on a cutting board.

The Kidnapper

As @TomAu noted, this is a poor translation. The original Chinese phrase Chiang used,拐子, actually has multiple meanings. There are two relevant definitions, neither of which is really captured by "kidnapper".

  • a person with crippled legs
  • a trickster who steal people or property through fraud.

It is apparent then, that here Chiang Kai-Shek meant Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President of the United States.

Note also that by 1943, Chiang had grown wary of the Western Allies. He was deeply dissatisfied with the Allies over their perceived European focus. Around February (a week before this entry), Chiang wrote of his suspicion that Roosevelt intended to use China to soak up the brunt of Japan's military might.

Such trickery would have made the United States a拐子in Chiang's eyes, at least at that particular juncture, in the sense of being a fraudulent scammer. Chiang later recycled this insult in a similar sense on Churchill exactly 13 months later. Outraged by what he perceived to be Churchill going back on the Atlantic Charter's promises, Chiang predicted in his 28 March 1944 diary that:


With such a two-faced act, England's deceitful tricks are completely exposed. I predict this kidnapper's end day cannot be far off.

The Hooligan

Hooligan is a pretty good translation. The Chinese word流氓is actually somewhat ill-defined, but indicates something along the lines of "a troublemaker without respect for laws or social order".

As the previous section shows, Chiang Kai-Shek harboured an intense dislike of Sir Winston Churchill and Britain because, from his perspective, the British Empire trampled over weaker nations without regard for right or wrong.

Chiang once vehemently wrote that "Today I learnt why Germany and Japan hated and must remove England and America.(乃知日德之所以必欲排除與痛恨英美之道矣)" And more specifically, when Britain backed out of a promise to fight in Burma and spoke of Tibet as an independent nation, a furious Chiang wrote that:


This exposes the true face of imperialism; not only do hooligans look down upon such acts, even the Axis and Japan will think this beneath them.

Hence, it appears that Chiang meant Great Britain and Churchill here.

The Bully

This is also an inadequate translation. The Chinese phrase of土霸is actually closer to a local ruffian. This locality distinction separates it from the流氓of the previous section.

While Chiang also thought of Churchill and the British Empire as scoundrels and bullies, he nonetheless recognised Britain as a global power with far flung territories. In contrast, although Russia is legitimately massive, it is concentrated in the frozen wastes of northern Eurasia. Moreover, the Soviet Union simply had much smaller of a global presence at the time.

In conclusion, Chiang is likely referring to Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union here.

America was the kidnapper, Britain was the hooligan, and Russia was the bully.

Chiang was most afraid of America, because its affluence made it easy to seduce or corrupt Chinese people, particularly "young" people. "Kidnapper" was arguably a bad translation; seducer, "Pied Piper" or even "hijacker" would have been better.

Late in the 19th century, the "British" (Irish, actually) word "hooligan" came in use to describe a "bar brawler." More to the point, early in the 20th century, there was a group of "Young Turk" British Parliamentarians, including Winston Churchill that were referred to as "Hooligans."

By process of elimination, that leaves Russia as the bully. That country had "bullied" China out of land in the current Russian Far East in 1860, after the Arrow War, but unlike Britain, had not started the war (a "bar brawl"), but merely picked up the pieces afterward.

Watch the video: was Barbie the baddest female in The Bully game?


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