Chiang Kai-shek was a Chinese revolutionary who led the Republic of China between 1928 and 1975, first in mainland China until 1949 and later on in Taiwan until his death. He is credited with successfully leading the Northern Expedition against the Beiyang government, achieving Chinese unification. He was involved in a civil war with Communist Party of China, which he lost in 1949 and retreated to Taiwan.
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 .
President of the People's Republic of China (PRC) from 2003 to 2013, Hu Jintao is believed to have given shape to the belligerent China that Xi Jinping unleashed on the world. He was conservative with political reforms and reintroduced state control in several sectors. Known for his reserved and modest leadership style, his tenure marked consensus based rule and collective leadership.
Chinese politician, Jiang Zemin, served as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party from 1989 to 2002. Qualified as an engineer, he joined the Chinese Communist Party when he was in college. Rising through the ranks, he eventually became a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Minister of Electronic Industries.
Zhuge Liang, or Kong Ming, was a Chinese strategist of the Three Kingdoms Period. Legend has it that he had supernatural powers and had invented a number of things, such as a crossbow that shot multiple arrows. His habit of living in seclusion earned him the nickname The Hidden Dragon.
Yuan Shikai was a Chinese government and military official who reigned as the emperor of the Empire of China from 1915 to 1916. He is credited with introducing several modernization projects to the dynasty. He is also credited with organizing and training one of the first modern armies of China.
10 Zhao Ziyang
Zhao Ziyang was a Chinese politician who served as general secretary of China's Communist Party from 1987 to 1989. From 1980 to 1987, Zhao served as the third premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China. Under his rule, China witnessed several political and economic reforms. He died from a stroke in 2005 in Beijing.
11 Jiang Qing
13 Liu Shaoqi
Liu Shaoqi was a Chinese politician, revolutionary, and theorist. He served as the vice-chairman of the Chinese Communist Party from 1956 to 1966. From 1959 to 1968, he served as the Chairman of the People's Republic of China, implementing several policies of economic reconstruction in the country. For 15 long years, Liu was the third most influential man in China.
14 Gaozu of Han
Emperor Gaozu of Han reigned as the first emperor of the famous Han dynasty from 202 to 195 BC. Although he was born into a peasant family, Gaozu of Han went on to found the Han dynasty after emerging victorious in the Battle of Gaixia. He is credited with unifying most of China and popularizing Confucianism.
16 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.
17 Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai served as the People's Republic of China's first premier. He played a major role in the Communist Party's rise to power, serving under the founder of the People's Republic of China, Mao Zedong. Since his death, Zhou has been widely considered a skilled negotiator and a devoted revolutionary.
Son of former president Chiang Kai-shek, Chiang Ching-kuo had been the premier and the president of the Republic of China. He had also studied in Russia as Nikolai Vladimirovich Elizarov. Following the rise of communists in China, he moved to Taiwan and continued to manage the government in exile.
19 Wen Jiabao
Wen Jiabao is a retired Chinese politician who served as the country's head of government from 2003 to 2013. As Premier, Wen Jiabao played a major role in directing Beijing's economic policy. Nicknamed the people's premier, Wen worked towards bettering the lives of migrant workers and farmers rather than focusing on GDP growth in rich coastal areas and large cities.
20 Xi Zhongxun
Xi Zhongxun was a Chinese revolutionary and political leader. From establishing Communist guerrilla bases in the 1930s to launching economic liberalization in the 1980s, Xi Zhongxun made immense contributions to the development of China. He is also known as the father of the present paramount leader of China, Xi Jinping.
Daoguang Emperor reigned as the emperor of the Qing dynasty from 1820 to 1850. His reign not only witnessed the First Opium War but also the commencement of the Taiping Rebellion. Over the years, he has been portrayed by several actors in TV series, such as The Rise and Fall of Qing Dynasty, Sigh of His Highness, and Succession War.
22 Wang Jingwei
23 Hu Yaobang
Hu Yaobang served as the Chinese Communist Party's general secretary from 1982 to 1987. Prior to his position as the general secretary, Hu served as the party's chairman from 1981 to 1982. Under Deng Xiaoping's leadership, Hu Yaobang rose to prominence and played a crucial role in the Boluan Fanzheng program, which was initiated by Deng.
Shunzhi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty was the first Qing ruler of China proper. Shunzhi relied on Buddhist priests and eunuch officials. While some believe he had died of smallpox, others state he had retired to a monastery to cope with the death of his favorite consort.
25 Sun Quan
Sun Quan was the founder of Wu during the tripartite division of China. He went on to reign as the emperor of Eastern Wu from 229 to 252 AD. Today, he is known as a playable character in popular video games, such as the Warriors Orochi video game series. He has also been portrayed in TV series like Three Kingdoms.
Nurhaci was a Jurchen chieftain who reigned as the Khan of Later Jin for 10 years. He is credited with uniting and reorganizing several Jurchen tribes. His attack and conquest of Ming dynasty laid the foundation for the formation of the Qing dynasty, which was founded by his descendants in 1636. His life inspired the 2005 TV series, Taizu Mishi.
27 Hong Taiji
Hong Taiji reigned as the khan of the Later Jin from 1626 to 1636. He is credited with establishing the Qing dynasty and reigned as its emperor from 1636 to 1643. He also played a major role in consolidating the empire founded by his father Nurhaci. Over the years, Hong Taiji has been portrayed in many TV series and films.
28 Hua Guofeng
Hua Guofeng was a Chinese politician and one of the most important leaders in the history of China. He served as the premier of the People's Republic of China before he was forced out of power by a group of party leaders. He is the only leader to have held the offices of premier, party leader, and CMC chairman simultaneously.
29 Lin Biao
Lin Biao was a Chinese military officer who played a crucial role in the Chinese Civil War. He is credited with commanding the decisive Pingjin and Liaoshen campaigns during the Civil War. An ardent supporter of Mao Zedong, Lin Biao also played an important role in propagating Mao Zedong's cult of personality.
30 Bao Zheng
Bao Zheng was a Chinese politician who played an important role in China's Song Dynasty under Emperor Renzong. Remembered for his extreme honesty, Bao was bestowed with the honorific title, Justice Bao. Today, he is revered in Chinese society as the cultural symbol of justice. Thanks to his popularity, Bao Zheng has been portrayed in many films and TV series.
Legends state that Shennong, or the Divine Farmer, who was a Chinese mythological figure, was born with the body of a man and the head of a bull, and had learned to speak by 3 days of his birth. He revolutionized agricultural methods and made a catalogue of medicinal plants.
Kaidu, the great-grandson of Genghis Khan, emerged as the main opposition to his cousin Kublai Khan’s reign over the Mongol empire. Kaidu’s war against Kublai’s empire didn’t end with Kublai’s death, and continued for almost 30 years. He has found mention in literary works such as The Journeyer.
Soong Ching-ling was a Chinese political figure. Referred to as Madame Sun Yat-sen, Soong is best known as the wife of Sun Yat-sen, who played a major role in the establishment of the Republic of China. Soong played a key role in China's politics before and after the formation of the People's Republic of China.
34 Li Xiannian
Li Xiannian was a Chinese Communist political and military leader. From 1983 to 1988, he served as the president of the People's Republic of China under Paramount Leader Deng Xiaoping. He played an important role during the Chinese Civil War and the Second Sino-Japanese War, serving as a successful and influential military commander.
35 Li Peng
Li Peng was a Chinese politician and hydroelectric engineer. From 1987 to 1998, he served as the premier of the People's Republic of China. As Premier, Li was responsible for the Tiananmen Square Massacre as he chose to use force to quell the protests of 1989. He is credited with overseeing the Three Gorges Dam project, which is the largest dam in the world.
Yang Shangkun was a Chinese Communist political and military leader. From 1988 to 1993, he served as the fourth president of the People's Republic of China. Counted among the Eight Elders of the Communist Party, Yang Shangkun oversaw major political and military affairs. He also played a major role in quelling the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
37 Jia Sidao
Jia Sidao was a Chinese statesman who served as the grand chancellor of the Song Dynasty from 1260 to 1275. He also played a major role in the Battle of Xiangyang. Jia Sidao was played by actor Chin Han in the 2014 TV series Marco Polo.
38 Du Fu
Du Fu was a Chinese politician and poet. Widely regarded as one of the greatest Chinese poets of all time, Du Fu's works have influenced both Japanese and Chinese literary culture. While it is said that almost all Chinese poets have been influenced by him, the Japanese literature from the Muromachi period was greatly impacted by Du Fu's poetry.
39 Su Shi
Su Shi was a Chinese writer, calligrapher, poet, painter, gastronome, pharmacologist, and politician who lived during the Song dynasty. He played a major role in the political affairs of the Song dynasty. He is credited with producing some of the best-known poems, prose, and essays and is considered one of the most decorated personalities in classical Chinese literature.
40 Lü Buwei
Lü Buwei was a Chinese politician and businessman of the Qin state. He played a major role in helping Zhuangxiang become the heir apparent to the throne. Subsequently, Lü Buwei was appointed as the chancellor when Zhuangxiang ascended the throne. Over the years, he has been portrayed in many films, such as The Emperor and the Assassin.
41 Li Hongzhang
Li Hongzhang was a Chinese politician, diplomat, and general of the popular Qing dynasty. He is credited with quelling many major rebellions and took up several important positions in the imperial court. Although he was praised for his diplomatic skills, Li has remained a controversial figure due to his military and political defeats.
42 Fu Hsi
Fu Hsi is a Chinese culture hero, according to Chinese mythology and legend. He is credited with creating humanity and inventing domestication, fishing, hunting, and cooking. According to mythology, Fu Hsi also invented Chinese characters, which are being used today. Over the years, Fu Hsi has been the subject of several paintings and other artworks.
43 Chen Yun
Chen Yun was a Chinese political leader who played a major role during the Chinese economic reform. He was regarded as one of the most influential political leaders of China during the '80s and '90s. He also played an important role during the Chinese Civil War and was later counted among the Eight Great Eminent Officials of China.
44 Cai Lun
Cai Lun was a Chinese inventor who served as an eunuch court official of the Han dynasty. Cai Lun played an important role at the imperial court of Emperor He, overseeing the production of weapons and instruments for imperial use. He is credited with inventing paper as we know it today and is hence considered the inventor of modern paper.
45 Donald Tsang
Donald Tsang is a former civil servant. From 2005 to 2012, he served as the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. After joining the colonial civil service in 1967, Donald Tsang occupied several positions in local finance, administration, and trade. In 1995, he became the first ethnic Chinese to be appointed Financial Secretary of Hong Kong under British administration.
46 Gu Kailai
Gu Kailai is best known as the second wife of CCP Politburo member Bo Xilai. Daughter of Gu Jingsheng, a CCP bureaucrat, Gu served as a lawyer and wrote two bestsellers, before being convicted of killing a British businessman named Neil Heywood. Her death sentence was later commuted to life.
47 Han Fei
Chinese philosopher Han Fei is remembered for his iconic work Han Feizi, which is an ancient text containing Fei’s essays that reflect the Legalist tradition. It is believed he suffered from a speech defect, which encouraged him to write. King Zheng of Qin later adopted most of Fei’s philosophies.
Son of shipping magnate and Orient Overseas founder C.Y. Tung, Tung Chee-hwa was educated in Hong Kong, Britain, and the U.S. before taking over the leadership of his family business. He later became the chief executive of Hong Kong and is still known as the “kingmaker” of Hong Kong’s politics.
49 Wang Yi
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi had initially been part of the Northeast Construction Army Corps. Yi boasts of a university degree in Japanese language and has been an ambassador to Japan. He is quite popular on the Chinese micro-blogging site Sina Weibo. He has also taken care of Taiwan affairs.
50 Zhao Gao
Zhao Gao was a eunuch who served the emperors of the Qin dynasty. He conspired to overthrow Qin Shi Huang and hid his death from the emperor’s eldest son, sending him a false letter that stated the emperor wanted the prince to commit suicide. Zhao was eventually assassinated.