One of the most significant and controversial leaders of the 20th century, Mao Zedong was a communist revolutionary and the founding father of the People's Republic of China which he governed as the chairman of Chinese Communist Party. He is appreciated for numerous development work but is criticised for his authoritarian regime and policies which resulted in millions of deaths .
Qin Shi Huang is credited with founding the Qin dynasty, the first dynasty of Imperial China. He reigned as the first emperor of a unified China from 221 BC to 210 BC. Under his rule, the Chinese state expanded greatly and he also enacted major political and economic reforms. His life and work inspired several films like The Emperor's Shadow.
3 Sun Tzu
5 Cao Cao
Cao Cao was a Chinese warlord, poet, and statesman. He played an important role in laying the foundations for the state of Cao Wei, which was formed shortly after his death. Although he was posthumously honoured with the title Emperor Wu of Wei, Cao Cao never ruled as an emperor, but kept Emperor Xian under his control.
6 Lu Bu
7 Guan Yu
Guan Yu was nicknamed Beautiful Beard for his long, flowing beard. Featured in literary works such as Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Guan was a Chinese military general who served Liu Bei of the Eastern Han dynasty. Lord Guan is now revered as a deity in Chinese folk culture.
9 Liu Bei
Liu Bei was a warlord in the Eastern Han dynasty. He is credited with founding the state of Shu Han. Liu Bei went on to reign as the emperor of Shu Han from 221 until his death in 223. Liu Bei is best remembered for his remarkable skills as a leader and politician. His life has inspired several TV series.
10 Sima Yi
Sima Yi was a Chinese politician and military general. He served as the regent of Cao Wei during the tripartite division of China in the third century AD. Sima Yi is best remembered for defending Cao Wei from several invasions led by Cao Wei's arch-rival Shu. He then went on to serve as Wei's de facto primary authority.
11 Dong Zhuo
12 Zhang Fei
13 Wang Jian
14 Wang Jingwei
15 Zuo Zongtang
16 Li Zongren
17 An Lushan
18 Wu Sangui
19 Fu Hao
Fu Hao, or Lady Hao, the legendary figure of the Shang dynasty, was a high priestess and the only female military general of her time. Known for her successful battle against the Tu-Fang tribe, she was buried with valuables and 16 people who would be her servants in the afterlife.
20 Zhang Zuolin
Chinese bandit and warlord Zhang Zuolin initially ruled over Manchuria and then became the military dictator of the Republic of China. Later, the Nationalist Party’s march into China forced him to move his troops out of Beijing. He died when his train became the target of a bomb blast.
22 Meng Tian
Qin dynasty military general Meng Tian was also an inventor. Serving emperor Shihuangdi, Meng was assigned with the task of building a wall to fend off the attacks of the Central Asian tribesmen, resulting in the Great Wall of China. He is also credited with inventing a form of harpsichord.
23 Zeng Guofan
Chinese military general and Confucian scholar Zeng Guofan is best remembered for his efforts in crushing the Taiping Rebellion. Apart from being a court scholar of the Qing rulers, he also served on various prominent boards. His writings have been preserved as a collection of 156 books.
24 Duan Qirui
Duan Qirui was a Chinese politician and warlord who served as the premier of the Republic of China. From 1916 to 1920, he was one of the most powerful men in China. He played an important role in the Battle of Yangxia, where he led the Second Army Corps and succeeded in re-capturing Hankou and Hanyang.
25 Huang Xing
Huang Xing was a Chinese politician and revolutionary leader who served as the first supreme commander of the Republic of China. He is credited with founding the Kuomintang (KMT), one of the most popular political parties in Taiwan. In a 2011 historical drama film titled 1911, Huang Xing was played by actor and martial artist Jackie Chan.
27 Wu Peifu
Wu Peifu was a Chinese warlord who played important roles in several battles, such as the Zhili-Anhui War, First Zhili-Fengtian War, Second Zhili-Fengtian War, and Northern Expedition. Over the course of his career, he received many honors, including the Order of Rank and Merit, Order of the Precious Brilliant Golden Grain, and Order of the Rising Sun.
28 Bo Yibo
Bo Yibo was a Chinese military and political leader. After joining the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) at the age of 17, he went on to become one of the most respected Chinese political figures in the 1980s and 1990s. During his career, he held important posts, such as chairman of State Economic Commission and Communist China's first Minister of Finance.
30 Zhu Wen
31 Xu Caihou
Chinese pirate and Ming dynasty leader Zheng Zhilong was baptized by the Europeans who had employed him as a boy. He was assigned the duty of safeguarding the borders from the Dutch, and later joined the Qing dynasty. He was assassinated for his son’s refusal to submit to the Qings.
Ronglu was a Manchu military and political leader who lived during the late Qing dynasty. A close associate of Empress Dowager Cixi, Ronglu served in many prominent military and civil positions, such as the Grand Council, Viceroy of Zhili, Grand Secretary, Zongli Yamen, Secretary of Defence, Wuwei Corps Commander, Nine Gates Infantry Commander, and Beiyang Trade Minister.
34 Ban Chao
35 Wang Zhen
Wang Zhen was a Chinese political figure who served as the fourth Vice President of China. Counted among the Eight Elders of the Communist Party of China, Wang Zhen played an important role in the development of the party, which is currently the sole governing political party of China.
36 Chen Yi
Chen Yi was a Chinese communist politician and military commander. One of the most influential politicians of his generation, Chen Yi served as Mayor of Shanghai between 1949 and 1958. In 1955, he became a Marshal of the People's Liberation Army. From 1958 to 1972, he served as the Foreign Minister of China.
37 Ye Ting
38 Li Lisan
Born in Hunan and educated in Paris, Li Lisan went back to China to join the Communist Party, becoming one of its top leaders later. He is remembered for his strategy known as the Li Lisan line. He committed suicide when he was attacked during the Cultural Revolution.
39 Guo Ziyi
40 Xin Qiji
41 Xu Da
42 Li Xiucheng
43 Li Keyong
45 Feng Yunshan
Feng Yunshan had a major role to play in the Taiping Rebellion against the Qing regime. He led Hong Xiuquan’s God Worshipping Society and later became the South King of the Taiping Rebellion. He was fatally wounded by a Qing gunner, following which the Taiping invaded and ravaged Quanzhou.
46 Yang Dezhi
Chinese military general Yang Dezhi was a Korean War veteran and has also led the Sino–Vietnamese War. Born to a blacksmith, he initially worked as a miner and joined revolutionary activities at 16. During the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, Yang opposed military action in Beijing.
47 Zhang Aiping
48 Xiao Ke
People’s Liberation Army general Xiao Ke was born to a poor Chinese rural family and witnessed blatant persecution of his family members, which made him join the Communist Party. Before he died at 101, he was the last-surviving Red Army commander who had been part of the Long March.