Wang's revolutionary credentials and his role in rebuilding the Nationalist Party—the Guomindang, or GMD (Kuomintang, or KMT)—made him the logical candidate to succeed Sun after the latter's death in 1925, but he was pushed aside by Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-shek), who controlled the army. Wang attempted to form his own government, but he failed and eventually mended fences with Jiang in a show of unity following the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931.
Appointed titular head of the Nationalist government in 1932, Wang was forced to bear the onus of appeasing the Japanese while Jiang led the army in a campaign to exterminate the Communists. Disillusioned, he resigned and left China in 1935 to recover from an assassination attempt. He returned following the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937, but he quickly grew pessimistic about China's military prospects. After failing to persuade Jiang to make peace with Japan (which led Nationalist agents to make another attempt on his life), Wang fled to Japanese-occupied China. In March 1940, the Japanese army installed him as head of the puppet Reorganized Nationalist Government in Nanjing (Nanking), Jiangsu (Kiangsu) Province.
Wang's hopes of presenting himself as a credible alternative to Jiang were ultimately doomed by the harsh reality of Japanese military domination. He died in Nagoya, Japan, on 10 November 1944 while undergoing medical treatment.
John M. Jennings
Boyle, John Hunter. China and Japan at War, 1937–1945: The Politics of Collaboration. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1972.; Bunker, Gerald E. The Peace Conspiracy: Wang Ching-wei and the China War, 1937–1941. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1972.