Age of Conquest: A Kings and Generals Podcast
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Age of Conquest: A Kings and Generals Podcast

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episode 3.108 Fall and Rise of China: Anti-Fengtian War #1: The Zhejiang-Fengtian War artwork
3.108 Fall and Rise of China: Anti-Fengtian War #1: The Zhejiang-Fengtian War
Last time we spoke about the rise of Chiang Kai-Shek. Chiang Kai-Shek had gradually become a rising star in the KMT. Dr Sun Yat-Sen saw some promise in the young man and took him under his wing soon making him something akin to his number 2. Aligning with Sun Yat-Sen, Chiang Kai-Shek helped consolidate KMT power in Guangzhou and played a crucial role in military campaigns, including the suppression of the Canton Merchants Association militia in 1924. Following Sun Yat-Sen’s death in 1925, Chiang Kai-Shek navigated the KMT power vacuum that unfolded. When the Guangzhou Coup occurred, Chiang Kai-Shek managed to keep his head and began systematically eliminating or neutralizing his rivals. In the end he solidified his authority and led to the temporary stabilization of KMT-CCP relations, setting the stage for the Northern Expedition aimed at unifying China under KMT leadership.   #108 The Anti-Fengtian War Part 1: The Zhejiang-Fengtian War Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on history of asia and much more  so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War. In this episode we are going to be talking about a new warlord, well new-ish. When I had been introducing the individual warlords and their factions, I had to set a few aside, because they come later on in the warlord Era, one of them being Sun Chuanfang. Sun Chuanfang was born April 17th, 1885 in Fanzhen, of Tai’an county in Shandong province. He lost his father at a early age, and because he grew up in old troublesome Shandong, he was destined to face hardship. One of those hardships was the Boxer Rebellion, which provided much unrest, poverty and famine. His family was forced to flee famine many times before they settled in Jinan. Sun Chuanfang had a little sister who went on to marry Wang Yingkai, a rising officer in the Beiyang Army and a protege under Yuan Shikai. By being the brother in law, Sun Chuanfang received some financial aid and was given a proper education. Sun Chuanfang was quickly deemed talented and strong, so it was recommended he join the Beiyang Army training camp in 1902. Sun Chuanfang graduated in 1904 and was sent to Japan to train at the Tokyo Shimbu Gakko military preparatory school. Reminiscent of Chiang Kai-Shek’s experience, Sun Chuanfang joined the Tongmenghui while studying in Japan.He would graduate 6th in his class and served in the IJA before returning to China in 1908. In 1909 he took the Army Civil Service Examination and ha exellent results, obtaining the status of an infantry juren. After this Sun Chuanfang was assigned to the 2nd army regiment of Ma Longbiao. Eventually he was recruited by Wang Zhanyuan who would become something of a mentor to him. During the Wuchang uprising, Sun Chuanfang was assigned to forces who went south to supress the revolutionaries. After the founding of the new republic, Sun Chuanfang took a station in Hubei. Sun Chuanfang rose through the ranks and by 1917 he was appointed commander of the 21st mixed brigade. After this he received a promotion to commander of the 1st Division. During the Anhui-Zhili War Sun Chuanfang was fighting under Wang Zhanyuan as they captured Wu Guangxin. After this Sun Chuanfang was awarded commander in chief over the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. In 1921, the governor of Hunan, Zhao Hengti, attempted to expand his rule to Hubai launching a small war known loosely as the Hunan-Hubei War. Zhao Hengti failed to expand his rule, but forced something of a political struggle upon Wang Zhanyuan who ended up resigning from his post. Wu Peifu then recommended Sun Chuanfang to became the commander of the 2nd division, working under him. During the 1st Zhili-Fengtian War of 1922. Sun Chuanfang officially became a member of the Zhili Clique and began publicly demanding the resignation of Xu Shichang, the current Anhui clique president. In June that year, Xu Shichang resigned and Li Yuanhong took his place. In 1923, Sun Chuanfang was appointed the Military Inspector of Fujian. He led his troops to Fujian and quickly seized control over the province. There he established the Fujian Army. In September of 1924, the Jiangsu-Zhejiang War broke out, a precursor to the 2nd Zhili-Fengtian War. Sun Chuanfang initially held back, but stated he was supporting Qi Xieyuan the governor of Jiangsu against Lu Yongxiang the governor of Zhejiang. When the opportunity opened up Sun Chuanfang invaded Zhejiang to defeat Lu Yongxiang, however during the greater war, the Zhili clique was defeated by the Fengtian forces. Wu Peifu went into exile, many of the remaining Zhili Warlords were tossed into a uneasy situation. For Sun Chuanfang it was a pretty awkward situation as he had just won a smaller war and established a powerbase in southeast China. With Wu Peifu gone, Sun Chuanfang was now one of the biggest Zhili warlords. The new chief executive, Duan Qirui appointed Sun Chuanfang as governor over Zhejiang, casting Qi Xieyuan to the wind. Duan Qirui was struggling to keep the peace across the board, thus he was trying to appease the more troublesome warlords with decent appointments, hoping they would be complacent and not stir up anymore trouble. But this is China’s warlord Era, and trouble will be stirred.  Now Two episodes back I mentioned how Feng Yuxiang established his Guominjun, but he lacked funds and arms. Thus he got into bed with the KMT, and by proxy was introduced to Mr. Borodin representing the Soviets. The Soviets agreed to arm and fund his Guominjun as long as he provided the same reciprocity as the KMT, ie; allowing communists to join his ranks. Feng Yuxiang held a sphere of influence in the northwest of China. The new triumvirate between him, Duan Qirui and Zhang Zuolin was honestly a charade. Zhang Zuolin controlled the wealthy provinces of northeast China while Feng Yuxiang controlled the much poorer northwest. Zhang Zuolin was backed by the Japanese, he was essentially more of a conservative. Feng Yuxiang was seen as a radical politically, perhaps even a revolutionary and his backer was the Soviet Union. Duan Qirui was not even in the same league as either, having no real army anymore. Thus Zhang Zuolin was essentially the one calling the shots, it was an arrangement destined to fail.   After winning the second Zhili-Fengtian War, Zhang Zuolin began moving pieces across the chess board to consolidate his power. He first ordered the commander of his 5th army, Kan Chaoxi to lead two Fengtian Mixed Brigades, with some local troops, over to Rehe province to set up shop as its military-governor. The commander of the 2nd Fengtian army, Li Jinglin who was a Zhili native was ordered to serve as a sort of Zhili military affairs director. The Dogmeat General, Zhang Zongchang was given his first big break, Zhang Zuolin made him the commander in chief of suppressing bandits in Jiangsu, Shandong and Anhui. Duan Qirui then ordered the removal of Qi Xieyuan of the Zhili clique from his post as the inspector general of Jiangsu, Anhui and Jiangxi. He was to be replaced by our old friend Lu Yongxiang who would be an envoy to Jiangsu and Anhui. Thus Zhang Zongchang and Lu Yongxiang together marched south along the Shanghai-Nanjing line.    To face the incoming threat Qi Xieyuan banded together with Sun Chuanfang and they likewise marched to Suzhou by January 14th. On the 17th both armies began fighting between Danyang and Wuxi. Yet by the 25th Qi Xieyuan was decisively defeated. Qi Xieyuan fled to Shanghai before getting on a boat to go into exile in Japan. His so-called partner in crime Sun Chuanfang had not ponied up the same amount of troops as he did, choosing to hold back a bit. When Qi Xieyuan fled for Japan, all of his troops were snatched up by Sun Chuanfang. On February 3rd, Sun Chuanfang approached Zhang Zongchang to negotiate, and they signed the second Jiangsu-Zhejiang peace treaty. Under the terms the Zhili army agreed to retreat to Songjiang, the Fengtian army would retreat to Kunshan, while Shanghai would not station troops.    After what was known as the second Jiangsu-Zhejiang war, the Fengtian forces began to dramatically expand their control into the Yangtze River Valley. Zhang Zuolin dispatched 11 divisions to occupy Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu, the Beijing-Fengtian Railway and the Jinpu Railway. Zhang Zuolin strong armed the Beiyang government to make his generals Li Jinglin, Zhang Zongchang, Jiang Dengxuan and Yang Yuting military inspectors over Hubei, Shandong, Anhui and Jiangsu respectively. This basically made the Yangtze River Valley under Fentgian control and connected them via rail to Zhang Zuolin’s northeast power base. The agreement made with Sun Chuanfang to not deploy any troops in Shanghai seemed under threat. When prompted, the Fengtian leaders would claim they would never deploy troops in Shanghai, but to all it seemed like classic trickery.    In fact the Fengtian commanders had become quite arrogant and careless. Some of the generals were running opium operations in Nanshi and Zhabei. A regular inspection at Shanghai-Nanjing station showcased one of their drug runs and led to Fengtian soldiers performing a shoot out. Because of the incident, Duan Qirui ordered Lu Yongxiang and Zheng Qian to go over and investigate the situation. At the same time, Zhang Zongchang had deployed some troops in Shanghai to make sure the opium drug running went more smoothly. Zhang Zongchang ordered Cheng Guorui to figure out a solution to the issues and he was accompanied by Li Kuiyuan the director of the Fengtian Army’s HQ in shanghai and Yuan Zhihe the Fengtian supply department director. Cheng Guorui and Li Kuiyuan quickly got into an argument and began drawing their guns upon each other in a shoot out. As reported by an eye witness "Yuan was seriously injured, Li fell to his death, Cheng jumped out of the window and injured his waist. At that time, the guards of each person were outside, and they opened fire on each other when they heard the sound, and the order was very chaotic." Thus Zhang Zongchang’s efforts to smooth over the drug trafficking had done the very opposite, it made it much much more visible to the public. However Zhang Zuolin was really arrogant himself by this point and believed their Fengtian empire could get away with just about anything at this point, so he simply dispatched a division of troops to Songhu to make sure things ran smoother. Unfortunately he sent these forces to occupy garrisons that belongs to Sun Chuanfang. At the same time Fengtian forces led by Ding Xichun entered Nanjing.   It really seemed Zhang Zuolin got far too over confident. Apparently he began proclaiming "If I don't beat anyone in the next three to five years, no one will dare to beat me." Likewise his subordinate Yang Yuting mirrored his bosses sentiment, mouthing off to local warlords in Jiangsu. Jiang Dengxuan in Anhui began boasting "that he only brought one battalion with him" and Yang Yuting declared publicly "I went to Jiangsu this time with only more than ten entourages and a company of guards."    Meanwhile Li Jinglin and Zhangzong began to crack down on labour movements in Hubei and Shandong. There was a lot of unrest with workers, especially in Qingdao. Zhang Zongchang brutally suppressed any who would try to demonstrate or strike. A strict anti-labor and anti-communist movement was seen across the board in areas Fengtian controlled. Zhang Zongchang also cracked down on the remaining Zhili clique influence in the Yangtze River Valley. When the Fengtian replaced Qi Xieyuan with Lu Yongxiang as governor over Jiangsu, that lasted about a minute until they replaced Lu Yongxiang, who remember was an Anhui clique guy, with one of their own, Yang Yuting. His appointment was specifically to expand into neighbouring Zhejiang and Fujian provinces. These areas of course were being controlled by the last significant Zhili warlord, Sun Chuanfang. Sun Chuanfang had this to say about the situation "Zhang now dominates the Central Plains, controls the government, and covers the northeast and southeast. He is also planning to succeed Yuan Shikai and establish his own empire. He seduces powerful enemies outside and destroys public opinion inside. He is extremely cruel and does everything he can."   On October 11th of 1925, the governor of Zhejiang, Sun Chuanfang took matters into his own hands. He sent a telegram to the entire nation, opposing suppression efforts against Shanghai workers. He was taking a page out of Wu Peifu’s playbook, to play upon the image of patriotism, making it seem you loved the people and were fighting for them. In reality this was a ploy to gather support and sympathy for what he was about to unleash. In early October, Sun Chuanfang began to hold secret meetings in Hangzhou with representatives of the Zhili clique of nearby provinces. The conversation was how to thwart the Fengtian from seizing all of their respective territories. They all came into an agreement, Sun Chuanfang would become their leader and he would lead his armies to attack Shanghai. This would be followed up by the Governor of Fujian, Zhou Yinren to lead his troops into Zhejiang to support Sun Chuanfang; the governor of Jiangxi Fang Benren would send his subordinate Deng Zhuoru also to help out in Zhejiang. Wang Pu the governor over southern Anhui, Chen Tiaoyuan the commander of the 4th Zhili division of Jiangsu and the retired warlods, Qi Xieyuan and Ma Lianjia would lend their forces as well. All together its said their forces were 200,000 strong.   After these meetings, Sun Chuanfang gathered the troops at Songjiang and Changxing calling for a “national day” on October the 10th and they performed a military parade. When Duan Qirui heard about this he sent Lu Zongyu to Hangzhou to try and mediate what was clearly turning into a dire situation. The mediation completely failed. Meanwhile Zhang Zuolin took notice and urgently summoned his 4 new governors, Li Jingling, Zhang Zongchang, Yang Yuting and Jiang Dengxuan. He was pulling them back to discuss how they should deal with this new emerging threat. However Zhang Zuolin was too late, for when the governors were enroute to meet with him, Sun Chuanfang made his move.   On October the 15th, Sun Chuanfang suddenly proclaimed himself the commander in chief of a 5 province coalition. The armies of Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangsu, Jiangxi and Anhui were now in alliance. Sun Chuanfang created 5 routes armies; the 1st route army was led by Chen Yi consisting of the 1st division of the Zhejiang army; the 2nd route was led by Xiu Hongxun, consisting of the 4th division. The 1st and 2nd route armies were responsible for attacking Shanghai from the Shanghai-Hangzhou line. The 4th Route army led by Lu Xiangting, consisting of the 2nd division of the Anhui army and 5th Route army led by Zhou Fengqi, consisting of the 2nd Division of the Zhejiang armywere responsible for attacking Suzhou from Changxing. Sun Chuanfang took command of the 3rd route army, leading down the middle. On the 11th of October Sun Chuanfang sent a telegram calling on all foreign nations with interests in Shanghai to send personnel to investigate what he claimed was Fengtian Army members abusing workers and peasants. This of course was a guise to launch his attack.   The Fengtian warlords were taken completely offguard by Sun Chuanfangs rapid offensive, they had all unfortunately been enroute north for a meeting with Zhang Zuolin and thus were on a passive footing. Basically the Fengtian army was in a type of snake like formation extending from Yuguan to Tianjing, Pukou, Nanjing and Shanghai. They were quite dispersed. Thus began what is known as the Zhejiang-Fengtian War. Yet to complicate things, this was actually a theater of a larger war known as the Anti-Fengtian War or Third Zhili-Fengtian War. There were other theaters such as the Guominjun-Fengtian War, involving Feng Yuxiang. The Anti-Fengtian War is pretty incoherent, thus I will try to compartmenalize it.    What should be known in regards to the Zhejiang-Fengtian war, is that the Fengtian forces had the threat of Feng Yuxiang to their rear. If the Fengtian diverted forces to thwart the Guominjun, this would disallow them to quell the southern threat of Sun Chuanfang. Because of this, on October 14th, Yang Yuting ordered his subordinate Xing Shillian to withdraw from the Shanghai area quickly explaining to him in a telegram "due to the Shanghai case, in order to maintain order, we had to adjust the army and declare martial law. Now that the Shanghai case has been resolved, the title of martial law commander should be cancelled, the troops should be withdrawn, and the Jiangsu Police Department should be moved to Shanghai to deter the enemy."   The next day, Yang Yuting invited Jiang Denxuan to Nanjing to figure out how they would withdraw their troops along the Shanghai-Nanjing and Tianjian-Pukou rail lines. He also told Jiang Dengxuan, that Sun Chuanfang would "Su would not invade Zhejiang, consider the elegance of our classmates and resolutely stop the war." So it seemed Yang Yuting, who was a classmate of Sun Chuanfang was under the belief their friendship would prevent an escalation. However Sun Chuanfang on that very same day sent out a telegram to the 5 provinces to attack the Fengtian clique. On the 16th, the 2nd route Army of Xiu Hongxun began occupying Shanghai as the 4th Route army of Lu Xiangting occupied Yixing. Both then began advancing towards Suzhou and Wuxi. Roughly an hour before Sun Chuanfangs forces seized Shanghai, there was a mass withdrawal of the Fengtian forces there.   Because the Fengtian forces had adopted a passive, even non-resistant stance towards Sun Chuanfangs offensive, they all retreated quickly upon seeing any troops. Sun Chuanfang’s armies made quick and bloodless progress, however upon reaching Lingkou near Danyang on October the 18th, Xing Shilians men did not retreat. Sun Chuanfang’s vanguard found themselves facing what seemed to be determined resistance, but in reality it was a rearguard as the Fengtian forces were trying to evacuate Zhejiang province. On that evening, Yang Yuting convened a meeting in Nanjing with the other commanders, whereupon news came to them of the major defeats their forces had incurred. General Chen Tiaoyuan leading the 4th and 10th Zhili divisions stormed Nanjing and ordered Yang Yuting to be arrested. However Yang Yuting managed to escape from the city under the pretext he was. . . taking a bath. Yes a single source I’ve been relying upon for this event stated that without any context… so in my head I am imagining the classic hollywood, running a bath of water and jumping out of a window scenario. Regardless Yang Yuting abandoned the Fengtian garrison at Nanjing, fording a river and jumping into a car. On the 19th most of the Fengtians 8th Division, including their commander General Ding Chunxi stationed at Nanjing who had not already fled were surrounded and disarmed by Zhili forces. The next day Sun Chuanfang arrived to Nanjing whereupon he ordered Xie Hongxun’s division to ford the river to pursue the Fengtian forces fleeing towards Bengdu. On the 21st Ni Chaorong’s leading a Anhui Brigade stationed around Sixian, took a car over to Huaiguan where he telegraphed Jiang Dengxuan to resign. Jiang Dengxuan looked on in misery at the doomed Fengtian forces, knowing full well he had not enough time, men or means to halt the enemies advance, so he fled Bengdu on the 23rd, effectively resigning. Most of the Fengtian forces at Bengdu fled for Xuzhou.   Despite the rather embarrasing retreat of the Nanjing to Bengdu lines, the Fengtian forces were not even close to being really defeated. On the 21st, the Dogmeat General led reinforcements to the battlefield who were now ready for an actual battle. Sun Chuanfangs men at this point occupied Bengbu and had stopped their advance. Unbeknownst to the Fengtian commanders, Sun Chuanfang had secret being negotiations with Wu Peifu. Wu Peifu had come out of his forced retirement in Hubei, and to the north Feng Yuxiang was also coordinating with the three. Sun Chuanfang thought he had secured both men in the mission of attacking Xuzhou, but both of them had failed to perform. Thus Sun Chuanfang found himself in a bit of a pickle at Bengbu.   Meanwhile on the 26th, Zhang Zongchang ordered troops from Xin’an to attack Haizhou. Zhili forces led by General Bai Baoshan were defeated there soundly. The Fengtian army then contuined south to attack Qingjiangpu. Zhili troops led by Ma Yuren tried to defend the city, but soon became encircled and forced to surrender. Sun Chuanfang ordered Zheng Junyan and Chen Diaoyuan to reinforce the eastern sector to try and halt the Fengtian advance. On the 1st of November, Zhang Zongchang launched a new attack upon the Jingdu road, using armored cars and white russian forces. This force was led by Zhang Zongchangs subordinate Shi Chongbin, who had ordered to recapture Suxian and Guzhen.   The frontline Anhui troops became terrified of what looked to them to be a foreign force and fled the battlefield from Rengqiao all the way east of Guzhen. At this point Lu Xiangting, deputy commander in chief under Sun Chuanfang, began demolishing the railway to hinder the Fengtian advance. He dispatched Chen Yi and Xie Hongxun’s 2nd division to hook around the rear of the Fengtian army to try and cut their retreat. The White Russian army alongside Chinese of the Fengtian forces were advancing alone in a vangard whence they were attacked from two sides. They had no hope of breaking through, nor fleeing backwards and were forced to surrender. Over 300 White Russian troops were killed in the carnage. Shi Chongbin was captured at Xinqiao station and his 47th brigade of the Shandong Army was completely surrounded.   Zhang Zongchang then dispatched Chu Yupu to reinforce and support the 47th Brigade in an counterattack to try and break out, but it failed. On Novemer 3rd, the 47th Brigade were disarmed and surrendered. Seeing no hope of rescue, Chu Yupu took his troops to man a defensive line between Suxian and Jiagou. Sun Chuanfang now took advantage of the crumbling Fengtian situation and ordered the Zhili forces to surround Xuzhou. Zhang Zongchang mobilized everything the Fengtian had for a decisive battle, but disaster was striking elsewhere. It will be discussed more indepth next episode, but Feng Yuxiang entered the fray, attacking the Fengtian rear in Hubei and western Shandong. Zhang Zuolin realized the dreaded two front war had finally come and elected to pull back his strength. Zhang Zuolin ordered Zhang Zongchang to pull the men back into Shandong on the 6th. On the 7th Xing Shilian, Xu Kun, Bi Shucheng and other Fengtian commanders were retreating from Haizhou and Suqian to Tancheng and Taierzhuang. Chu Yupu and other troops retreated from Suxian and Xuzhou to Hanzhuang and Lincheng. On November 8, Sun Chuanfangs army finally occupied Xuzhou. On the 20th, Sun Chuanfang sent a public telegram to return to Hangzhou from Xuzhou. From then on, the five provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Jiangxi and Fujian were divided by Sun Chuanfang. The Zhejiang-Fengtian War was also declared over   It was a very embarrassing defeat for the Fengtian Clique. Across the Shanghai-Nanjing defensive line, the Fengtian army suffered heavy losses, their entire the 8th division was captured, most of the 20th division was annhilated. It was said only Liu Yifei, the commander of the 44th Brigade of the 20th Division had led his troops to resist the Zhejiang Army for several hours on the way back from Shanghai. Because he was isolated and helpless, Liu Yifei was apparently forced to disguise himself as a monk to escape. When he fled back to Fengtiann,  Zhang Zuolin, said to Liu Yifei "You are back, great! I heard that you disguised yourself as a monk. Damn it! In Jiangnan, you were the only one who fought with Sun Chuanfang for eight hours. Others surrendered without firing a shot because their parents didn't give them the courage! Now I will organize another Type A brigade for you, which is a three-regiment system. Soldiers are being recruited and stationed in the Dongshanzui barracks. Train hard!"   Upon winning the Zhejiang-Fengtian War, Sun Chuanfang immediately called for a ceasefire, literally as he was entering Xuzhou. His top priority was to consolidate his gains, for he understood he had only served the Fengtian a bloody nose, as they were preoccupied with war in the north. Then Chen Tiaoyuan of Jiangsu sent a telegram publicly announcing his support nominating Sun Chuanfang to form a government in Nanjing leading the 5 provinces he had led during their war. To try and remedy the situation, the Beiyang government offered Sun Chuandfang the position of military inspector of Jiangsu, combining his military inspector titles over Zhejiang and Fujian. Thus Sun Chuanfang would legitimately rule 3 provinces. The warlords running Jiangxi and Anhui were no match at all for Sun Chuanfang, thus they would have to submit to him regardless. So unofficially Sun Chuanfang established a new sort of government in Nanjing ruling the 5 provinces. This would be the very peak of his career, but nothing is ever built to last.   I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals [http://www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals]. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. The Zhejiang-Fengtian War was honestly the result of Fengtian arrogance. Zhang Zuolin let his guard down, turned to his old banditry ways and unleashed his boys southeast, thinking no one would challenge them. Sun Chuanfang proved himself a very capable warlord and now he was a significant player in China’s game of thrones.
15. jul. 2024 - 30 min
episode 3.107 Fall and Rise of China: Rise of Chiang Kai-Shek artwork
3.107 Fall and Rise of China: Rise of Chiang Kai-Shek
Last time we spoke about the first United Front and formation of the Guominjun. The second Zhili-Fengtian War had just ended, as Feng Yuxiang betrayed Wu Peifu turning the tides. Feng Yuxiang’s Beijing coup saw him become a major player and he soon reorganized his forces into the Guominjun, promoting Chinese nationalism, social reforms, military modernization, and ethical governance. Despite his efforts, Feng's treachery left a lasting negative reputation. The new regime, with Duan Qirui as chief executive, struggled with internal and external pressures. Feng's isolation led him to seek Soviet support, receiving significant military supplies. Meanwhile, the First United Front formed between the Kuomintang  and the Chinese Communist Party , facilitated by Soviet influence. Despite internal tensions, this alliance aimed to unify China. Sun Yat-Sen’s cautious cooperation with the Soviets was driven by pragmatic needs, even as ideological differences persisted, setting the stage for future conflicts.   #107 the rise of chiang kai shek Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on history of asia and much more  so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War. Chiang Kai-Shek was born on Halloween, October 31st of 1887 in Xikou, a small town in Fenghua of Zhejiang Province. Chiang was born into a Wuyue family, a subgroup of Han Chinese who speak Wu. His father was Chiang Chaotsung and his mother Wang Tsai-yu. Both were members of a relatively well off family of salt merchants. From an early age, Chiang was interested in the military. Like many youths at the turn of the century in China, Chiang cut off his queue rebelling against the Qing Dynasty. Chiang began his military career at the Baoding Military academy in 1906. After this he traveled to Japan to the Tokyo Shinbu Gakko preparatory school for the IJA. There he gained revolutionary fever, seeking to overthrow the Manchu back home. In 1908 he befriended Chen Qimei who introduced him to the Tongmenghui. He graduated from the Tokyo Shinbu Gakko and served in the IJA for 3 years.  Upon hearing about the Wuchang Uprising, Chiang rushed back to China where he served the revolutionary forces in Shanghai under Chen Qimei. Chiang Kai-Shek then became a founding member of the Kuomintang. Chen Qimei was assassinated by agents of Yuan Shikai, leading Chiang to succeed him as leader of the KMT in Shanghai. In 1918 Chiang moved his base of operations to Guangzhou to joined up with Sun Yat-Sen. I have already told most of the story, Chiang Kai-Shek was there for all of the up’s and downs. During the conflict between Sun Yat-Sen and Chen Jiongming, Chiang Kai-Shek stook with Sun, even when he went into exile. Chiang Kai-Shek protected Sun Yat-Sen, and because of this Sun Yat-Sen began to trust him greatly.  Sun Yat-Sen regained control over Guangzhou in 1923 with help of Yunnanese and CCP forces. Then as we discussed in the last episode, Sun Yat-Sen made the fateful decision to form the First United Front with the CCP to obtain Soviet support. Borodin established the Whampoa Military Academy and Chiang Kai-Shek was given the job of managing it. Soviet advisors swarmed into Guangzhou, alongside military equipment and regular pay for the soldiers.  Whampoa was created to produce officers quickly and its military education was a quite diluted form of the Japanese curricula used at the Baoding Military academies. Of course Chiang Kai-Shek himself was a graduate of these and went to Japanese to extend his military education. Thus he brought a sort of Bushido to Whampoa, he taught the boys about obeying orders without question, defending untenable positions to the last man and attacking regardless of losses. The young officers very much became his own. Chiang Kai-Shek also favored the idea of collective punishment for failures. Zhou Enlai, then already a prominent communist became the chief political commissar of Whampoa, backed strongly by Borodin. Now Sun Yat-Sen’s authority was confined to Guangzhou and central parts of Guangdong province. He had been strongly contested with this by Chen Jiongming. This resulted in his northern expedition failing a few times. In the summer and autumn of 1924 he contended then with the Canton Merchants Association, who had formed an armed· militia and began staging  protests and strikes in August when Sun Yat-Sen tried to cut off their arms supplies. In October the Merchants Association attempted to seize Guangzhou in collusion with Chen Jiongming, and it was Chiang Kai-shek who personally led the Whampoa cadets to defeat and dissolve their militia. This was another moment for the rising star to show his worth. Then Dr Sun Yat-Sen was extended an invitation to Beijing from Feng Yuxiang, Duan Qirui and Zhang Zuolin, the new triumvirate. All sought the reunification of China, they wondered if this could be done peacefully. Sun Yat-Sen had declined numerous times to come to Beijing and rejoin the Beiyang government, in the past he refused mostly because of Wu Peifu and Li Yuanhong. This time he had less objections, and with Soviet backing he finally had a better poker hand. Borodin thought it was a good idea and now Chiang Kai-Shek had a firm hand over the NRA forces. For once Sun Yat-Sen was not looking over his back to see if Chen Jiongming was going to seize Guangzhou. With Chiang Kai-Shek watching over his military and his old friend Hu Hanmin as deputy over civilian affairs, accompanied by those like Wang Jingwei, the Generalissimo went to Beijing in 1925.  In 1924 Sun Yat-Sen had traveled to Tianjin where he delivered a speech, suggesting a national conference for the people of China. He called for an end to warlordism and the abolition of the unequal treaties. He also received word from General Ma Fuxiang of the Ma Clique, who notified him he was willing to join forces. Meanwhile Sun Yat-Sen had a real problem, his health. While at Tianjin he underwent an exploratory laparotomy, this is a surgical exploration of the abdominal organs. This was done at the Peking Union Medical College Hospital. He had been suffering for a long time from something relating to his liver. Dr. Adrian Taylor opened him up and stated "the surgery revealed extensive involvement of the liver by carcinoma". Taylor gave Sun Yat-Sen only ten days to live. Sun Yat-Sen was hospitalized and received radium treatment. On February 18th, against the advice of his doctors, he was transferred to the KMT HQ and received traditional chinese medicine. By March 12th, Sun Yat-Sen died at the age of 58. The cause of death was stated to be liver cancer.  Sun Yat-Sen left a rather famous will, written by Wang Jingwei. It is generally believed now that Wang Jingwei had written the will on his behalf.  “For forty years I have devoted myself to the national revolution, with the goal of seeking freedom and equality for China. With forty years of experience, I know that in order to achieve this goal, I must arouse the people and unite with the nations in the world that treat me equally to fight together. Now that the revolution has not yet succeeded, all my comrades must continue to work hard in accordance with my " National Construction Strategy ", " National Construction Outline ", " Three Democratic Principles " and " Declaration of the First National Congress " to implement them. Recently, I have advocated the convening of a national assembly and the abolition of unequal treaties, and we must promote their realization in the shortest possible time. This is what I have said!” All of China watched eagerly to see who would succeed Sun Yat-Sen. Wang Jingwei was at his deathbed and entrusted to write his will out, thus most believed he was the prime candidate. Yet there were many choice and now the Soviets looked to who would be the man they would be dealing with.  A major situation then broke out in May of 1925. The triumvirate was not very popular amongst the Chinese people. Southerners particularly were not keen about it. In the wake of Dr Sun Yat-Sen’s death, the CCP thought they had a major opportunity. A new bill was being passed in Shanghai that would see the end of children under the age of 12 working in mills and factories. Now many working class families depended on such work. Alongside this another bill advocating for censorship of publications was about to be introduced and this really pissed off the intellectual types. Strikes emerged, some aimed at Japanese owned businesses, such as cotton mills. A group of Japanese managers were attacked leaving work, one was killed. In response Japanese foremen began carrying pistols on duty. By May 15th a Japanese foremen  shot dead by a protestor named Ku Cheng-Hung. The Shanghai population demanded a public funeral for Ku Cheng-Hung and began protesting. Many were arrested and a trial was set for May 30th. In response to this, students planned a demonstration. On the morning of the 30th, just as the trial was beginning, the Shanghai Municipal Police arrested some 15 student ringleaders at the Nanking Road in the international settlement. The student protestors were taken to Laozha police station, but by 2:45pm a huge crowd gathered outside it. Demonstrators were demanding their release and many entered the police station. The police state the demonstrators tried to forcibly release the arrested and the crowd could have been up to 2000 people strong. There were only 12 cops, some Sikh’s, Chinese and white officers. Allegedly chants were made for “kill the foreigners” and violence erupted. The police commissioner at the scene K.J. McEuen shouted in Wu Chinese "Stop! If you do not stop I will shoot!" At 3:37pm shots were fired into the crowd, at least 4 demonstrators were killed, another 5 died later of wounds and 14 were hospitalized. The next day saw more students going around placing posters and demanding shops stop selling or buying foreign goods. Then their leaders came to the Chinese chamber of Commerce with a list of demands. They sought punishment of those who shot the demonstrators and an end to the extraterritoriality rights of foreign powers in Shanghai as well as a closure of the international settlement. The president of the chamber of commerce was away at the time, but his deputy agreed to the press for the demands to be carried out. Obviously this was not going to happen and the deputy would send a message to the municipal council stating he said what he said under duress.  On June 1st martial law was declared, the Shanghai Volunteer corps, a type of militia was called up alongside foreign military assistance. Over the next month, together they raided demonstrators houses and protected businesses. Countless strikes broke out, alongside demonstrations and violence. Shops were looted, those who refused boycotts were beaten up. Perhaps up to 200 people died during the mayhem. Had what became known as the May thirtieth incident broken out years prior it would have amounted to nothing. Yet because of the other events going on, it became a rallying cry for a sort of crusade. The incident galvanized other strikes, demonstrations and boycotts across China. The main target of the public outrage moved from the Japanese to the British. Hong Kong and Guangzhou were deeply affected. Prominent Chinese citizens in Guangdong called for an anti-British strike. The KMT leaders and Soviet advisors considered the optics of the situation, some arguing they should attack the Anglo-French settlement in Shameen. The demonstrators began handing out anti-British leaflets in Hong Kong, and then a rumor emerged that the colonial government was planning to poison the colony’s water supplies. Guangdong began offering free train passage to Hong Kong, greatly escalating the situation. Over 50,000 Chinese fled Hong Kong as a result of the chaos. Food prices skyrocketed and the colony became a ghost town by July. By the end of July nearly 250,000 had left Guangdong. To try and prevent the colonies economic collapse, the British loaned 3 million pounds. The two highest officials, Governor Sir Reginald Stubbs and Colonial secretary Claud Severn were quickly replaced, blamed for much of the crisis. For months anti-british boycotts went on, Hong Kong’s economy was paralyzed. Her trade fell by half, her shipping by 40% and land renting by 60%. Similar situations arose in Guangzhou and Mukden. Feng Yuxiang seeking to earn public favor, began anti-west campaigns, calling for a public apology from Britain. Zhang Zuolin hammered the Shanghai situation by funding the police to arrest protestors alongside communists.  Meanwhile the situation in Beijing was tense, all were looking to see who would grab Sun Yat-Sen’s title. Hu Hanmin had succeeded Sun Yat-Sen nominally in Guangzhou, but he was immediately challenged by the existence of Chen Jiongming over at Huizhou and the Warlord Tang Chiyao in Yunnan, who had just assumed the title of deputy grand marshal. This was a title Tang Chiyao had continuously refused to accept while Sun Yat-Sen was alive. Chen Jiongming had strengthened his position in eastern Guangdong immediately after Sun Yat-Sens departure for Beijing. He colluded with Tang Chiyao, and the Guangxi warlords Xumin and Liu Chenhuan. They were planning yet again to attack Guangzhou. However the Cantonese and Hunanese continents of the NRA remained loyal. Chiang Kai-Shek had the firm loyalty of the Whampoa graduates, whose first two classes had just graduated. Combined the KMT forces proceeded to conquer eastern Guangdong. A siege was erected against Huizhou, forcing Chen Jiongming to flee. The success of all of this, bolstered Chiang Kai-Sheks reputation and solidified his leadership over the Whampoa graduates. Meanwhile the New Guangxi Clique warlords rallied around Li Zongren, Bai Chungxu and Huang Shaoxiang seized control over Guangxi. Together they opposed the attempted comeback of the Old Guangxi clique warlord Lu Jungting. The Guangxi leader dumped Shen and fought Tang Chiyao’s attempt to install Liu Chenhuan as governor over Guangxi. By Mid-July Huang Shaoxing became governor over Guangxi as Li Zongren and Bai Chungxu brokered an alliance with the KMT. On July 1st of 1925, the KMT proclaimed a national government in Guangzhou. A 16 memer political committee, chaired by Wang Jingwei. Liao Chungkai became the minister of Finance, who also led the left wing of the party. Xu Chungchih became minister of war, Hu Hanmin minister of Communications who led the right wing of the party. Despite the effort to balance the party, to the westerners and conservative chinese the party seemed far too radical. Borodin was nicknamed the “Emperor of Guangzhou” by the press and Zhou Enlai’s position as commissar of Whampoa was obscuring Chiang Kai-Shek’s efforts to turn the academy into his own personal instrument. A military reorganization accompanied the proclamation of the new government. The Whampoa graduates dominated the 1st Army, while Tan Yenkai’s 15,000 Hunanese became the 2nd army and Chu Beite’s Yunnanese became the 3rd. The 4th was a Cantonese force led by Li Chishen, the 5th was a Fujianese force within Guangdong under Li Fulin. A 6th army of Hunanese forces under Cheng Chen was formed in 1926 and later on a 7th army would be formed, 30,000 men strong led by the new Guangxi clique.All of these new units demonstrated loyalty to the KMT ideology, though their training varied greatly and their autonomy from local warlords also varied.  Liao Chungkai became the principal spokesman for Sun Yat-Sen’s policies, and for cooperation with the Soviets and CCP. On August 20th, 1925 Liao Chungkai was on his way to a Kuomintang Executive Committee meeting in Guangzhou when suddenly 5 gunmen wielding Mauser C96’s gunned him down as he exited his limousine. Everyone suspected Hu Hanmin or possibly Xu Chungchih of ordering the hit.  In Liao Chungkai, Chiang Kai-Shek lost an old friend. Grief came upon him and it hastened him to make decisions. He felt that the moment for dealing with plots and counterplots had arrived. The Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang met with the state and military councils and they decided emergency measures were in order. Wang Chingwei, Xu Chungchih, who was Chiang Kai-Sheks Command in Chief, and Chiang Kai-Shek were given unlimited powers. Four days after the assassination, Chiang Kai-Shek unleashed a detachment of his Whampoa cadets in a search party. They broke into the houses and offices of all government officials and seized documents. Roughly 100 men were arrested. Hu Hanmin was taken under guard to Whampoa and then was sent on a diplomatic mission to Russia. There was no diplomatic mission, it was exile.  Now Wang Jingwei, Xu Chungchih and Chiang Kai-SHek remained to lead the government. Xu had always been on good terms with Chiang Kai-Shek, but now they quarreled. Both men began arguing over the ongoingscuffle with Chen Jiongming. Xu insisted they should simply leave him alone, but it seemed old Chen was back at it again. Chiang Kai-Shek strongly disagreed and began accusing him of conspiring with Chen, or at minimum some of his officers were. By the end of September Xu simply departed for Shanghai, not wanting to take part it what was clearly becoming a power steal. With his prestige having suppressed the last Chen Jiongming attack in October, Chiang Kai-Shek began associating himself more and more with Sun Yat-Sen’s legacy. He did so by repeatedly calling for a northern expedition. Meanwhile his contacts in Shanghai, mediated some negotiations with Sun Chuanfang. Sun Chuanfang by this point was consolidating his rule over 5 provinces: Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangxi and Anhui. In November of 1925 the right wing members of the KMT met in the presence of Sun Yat-Sen’s coffin near Beijing, where they passed some resolutions calling for the end of the KMT-CCP alliance. After the assassination of Liao Chungkai, Wang Jingwei was pretty much unchallenged to became leader of the KMT’s left wing. He declared the proposed resolutions null and void, calling for a counter meeting in Guangzhou in January of 1926. In the background of this, Chiang Kai-Shek continued to call for a Northern Expedition, the KMT left, CCP and Russian advisors advocated for social revolution and to support efforts by strikers in Guangzhou. Chiang Kai-Shek was now the Guangzhou garrison commander and the inspector General of the National Revolutionary Army, aka the NRA, so he personally began preparations for a northern expedition. Yet his authority was being threatened by the growing CCP presence within the KMT army and navy. In February of 1926 Chiang Kai-Shek approached Wang Jingwei on several occasions demanding he remove Russian advisers whom he accused of inciting mutiny amongst his subordinates.  In March a coalition of left wing and Russian advisors led to the communist, Li Zhilong to become the commander of the Guangzhou navy. Li Zhilong began cracking down on the navy’s smuggling operations and replaced many ship captains with communists. On the 18th the fleet’s flagship, gunboat Zhongshan departed without Chiang Kai-Sheks knowledge nor approval from Guangzhou or Whampoa. It would turn out, Li Zhilong was moving the ship to support uprisings in the area and this of course alarmed the KMT. The Zhongshan relocated from Guangzhou to the anchorage off Changzhou, but sailed back the next day. When prompted to what he was doing, Li Zhilong stated he moved the ship under orders from Chiang Kai-Shek. Chiang Kai-Shek upon hearing this became gravely alarmed, because he never gave such orders. Then Chiang Kai-Shek began receiving some bizarre phone calls. Chen Jieru, the second wife to Chiang Kai-Shek, reported Wang Jingwei’s wife, Chen Bijun had called her over 5 times on the 18th, checking Chiang Kai-Shek’s schedule. Likewise the Whampoa political director, Deng Yanda began calling, asking when would be the next time Chiang Kai-Shek would sail for Changzhou. Chiang Kai-Shek simply told Deng Yanda, not any time soon. Then Li Zhilong called Chiang Kai-Shek, reporting that Deng Yanda ordered him to depart. Later in his unofficial memoirs, Chiang Kai-Shek would assert, Wang Jingwei was the one calling everyone.  Chiang Kai-Shek responded to the situation by purchasing a ticket aboard a Japanese steamer and headed to Shantou. He believed something was afoot, perhaps a putsch or some kind of assassination attempt. Later on Chiang Kai-Shek stated it was all a ploy to kidnap him and exile him to Vladivostok. While his explanations were not very credible, his fear was genuine. It was an extremely volatile time in Guangzhou and plots by the left or the right were expected. Andrei Bubnov, head of the Soviet advisors mission to Guangzhou would later note in reports, the supposed incident was due to an aborted putsch, enacted by CCP members. On March 20th, Chiang Kai-Shek ordered the Zhongshan to come back to Guangzhou, and she did, mooring in front of the officer’s club with her crew apparently at general quarters. At 4am on the 21st, Chiang Kai-Shek declared martial law and began arresting all known communists holding positions of authority. Li Zhilong was arrested from his bedroom, his warship was secured as Jiang Dingwen assumed his place at the Navy Bureau. Then Wu Tiecheng and Hui Dongsheng surrounded the residence of Wang Jingwei and the Soviet Advisors, placing them under house arrest. Deng Yanda was arrested, the Hong Kong Strike Committee saw a crackdown and Liu Zhi arrested many communists of the 2nd division and those at Whampoa in the 1st Corps, such as Zhou Enlai. Chiang Kai-Shek’s loyal men disarmed the Communists paramilitary workers guard, two entire garrisons were dissolved. Borodin and Vasily Blyukher were also both arrested. All those arrested were removed from their positions and departed Guangzhou. Chiang Kai-Shek carefully explained to the public that his actions were taken specifically against uncooperative individuals and that he was not simply targeting communists. But yeah he was just targeting communists.  When Chiang Kai-Shek and Wang Jingwei were left the last two with unlimited power they began to go at each other. Wang Jingwei certainly did not approve of the mass arrest of communists. Apparently Wang Jingwei told Chiang Kai-Shek to leave Guangzhou at some point. Wang Jingwei apparently was trying to scare him off, by suggesting he leave, but Chiang Kai-Shek did not do so. Suddenly Wang Jingwei became quite sick, apparently he had a high fever. He was visited by Chen Gongbo, Tan Yankai, Li Jishen, Zhu Peide and T.V Soong the current minister of finance. Apparently Wang Jingwei was pretty pissed off complaining to them all that Chiang Kai-Shek had gone over the top. A Nationalist executive Committee was convened on the 22nd, and a compromise was established. Wang Jingwei would take a vacation to France.  In reality of course, Wang Jingwei had simply lost a quasi game of thrones. Wang Jingwei had more than likely tried some crooked attempts to kill or get rid of Chiang Kai-Shek, he failed and Chiang Kai-Shek responded firmly. Wang Jingwei had felt it prudent he simply retire in the end, he departed 5 days after the chaos had ensued. Once he had reached a safe location, he wrote to Chiang Kai-Shek that henceforth he was eschewing all political activity, basically “please don’t kill me”. Thus Chiang Kai-Shek emerged the sole survivors of the original three successors to Dr Sun Yat-Sen. All of this became known as the Guangzhou Coup or Canton Coup, and what exactly happened is sort of still a mystery. It’s a lot of he said, she said kind of stuff. The end of the coup effectively stopped the CCP and Soviets from trying to undermine the KMT for the time being. Despite the quasi war between the two sides, an awkward balance emerged. Chiang Kai-Shek needed Moscow's help for the Northern Expedition. The CCP and Soviets needed the KMT to help them grow. Chiang Kai-Shek took a delicate touch henceforth, making conciliatory moves. Chiang Kai-Shek met with Borodin and they had what was described by Chiang Kai-Shek as a calm and friendly conversation. Almost immediately after the incident Chiang Kai-Shek began criticizing the extremely anti-communist members of the party. He became a kind of chief of police between the communists and anti-communists, but it was all a charade. In a political sense, Chiang Kai-Shek emerged extremely right. He believed something had to be done to curb the communist influence in the KMT. Thus in a rather fiery speech he began demanding the communists stop attacking Sun Yat-Sen’s three principles. No communist could admit to doing such a thing, it was rather blasphemous, though they were doing it. So it was a safe way to try and keep the communists in check. Chiang Kai-Shek followed it up by stating no communists should hold high office in the Kuomintang and the communists begrudgingly abided by it. Chiang Kai-Shek then during a Central Executive Committee meeting, suggested that all the communists should be expelled from the Kuomintang, but the Committee voted that one down. However there was an agreement that relations between the two groups needed to be revised and more importantly, the communists were to hand over a list of their members to the Kuomintang. To all of these things said, Borodin listened and never said a word in disagreement. It seemed Chiang Kai-Shek and Borodin had made a promise to each other to get alone at least until the Northern Expedition was successfully carried through. Chiang Kai-Shek had reached an agreement with Moscow. The Soviets would maintain their financial and arming of the KMT, if some advisors were kept on. They also agreed to get the CCP to hand over a list of all their memes in the KMT and that no communists would hold top cabinet positions. On April 3rd, Chiang Kai-Shek cabled an official public telegram stating the entire incident “was a limited and individual matter of a small number of members of our Party who had carried out an anti-revolutionary plot". Chiang Kai-Shek removed some right wingers from leadership such as Wu Tiechang, forbade right-wing demonstrations and no one was to ever publicly question the First United Front. It seemed this was done to appease the soviets. While Joseph Stalin backed the alliance, Trotsky opposed it. Chiang Kai-Shek was formally handed leadership of the party and army, ending civilian oversight over the NRA. Soon some emergency decrees would be levied to expand Chiang Kai-Shek’s power. Chiang Kai-Shek had become the new generalissimo. I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals [http://www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals]. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. The First United Front nearly collapsed as a result of a real game of thrones being played out after the death of Dr Sun Yat-Sen, the father of the nation. In the face of many rivals, it was the dark horse, Chiang Kai-Shek who came out on top. He would consolidate the strength of the south and soon march north to take Beijing.
08. jul. 2024 - 31 min
episode 3.106 Fall and Rise of China: First United Front artwork
3.106 Fall and Rise of China: First United Front
Last time we spoke about the second Zhili-Fengtian War.  After the first Zhili-Fengtian War of 1922, the Zhili warlords took control of Beijing. Cao Kun bribed his way into the presidency as Zhang Zuolin retreated to Manchuria to rebuild his army. Zhang appointed key officials and boosted military production, significantly enhancing his army, navy, and air force. The catalyst for the second Zhili-Fengtian War in 1924 was the First Jiangsu-Zhejiang War. Zhang Zuolin declared war on the Zhili clique, accusing them of corruption and oppression. The war saw battles at Rehe, Shanhaiguan, and other locations, with both sides suffering heavy casualties. However, the Zhili forces were plagued by internal betrayal and logistical challenges. Feng Yuxiang's unexpected coup in Beijing further weakened the Zhili's position. Ultimately, the Fengtian army's superior strategy and coordination led to their victory, capturing key cities and forcing Zhili leaders to flee.   #106 the First United Front Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on history of asia and much more  so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War. The second Zhili-Fengtian war was by far the most intense war to date for China’s Warlord Era. Perhaps up to 450,000 troops participated in battles stretching along the Great Wall Line from Shanhaiguan to Beijing. The casualties were reported to be around 30,000, but estimates for China’s Warlord Era are notoriously flimsy. Ultimately it was won by Feng Yuxiang’s betrayal against Wu Peifu. Feng Yuxiang’s Beijing coup certainly turned the tide, and now he had emerged a major player on the scene. Feng Yuxiang went to work, expelling the former Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, Puyi from the Forbidden city and placed Cao Kun under house arrest. Now immediately after Feng Yuxiang had taken Beijing, he began reorganizing his forces into the 1st National Army or better known as the Guominjun. Feng Yuxiang acted as its commander in chief with his co-conspirators Hu Qingyi and Sun Yueh as commanders of the 2nd and 3rd Armies. Now the Guominjun wer certainly an odd motley crew. The Guominjun’s ideology was a blend of Chinese nationalism, progressive social reforms, military modernization, and ethical governance influenced by Christianity. Feng Yuxiang’s leadership and vision shaped the faction into quite a unique force, striving to create a unified, modern, and moral China. Feng took care of his men’s well being, he educated them, promoted their sense of nationalism. Within his territory Feng promoted education, built schools, and established social welfare programs. He believed that improving the living standards of the common people was essential for national strength and stability. He implemented a series of social reforms in the areas he controlled. These included land reforms aimed at reducing the power of landlords and distributing land more equitably among peasants. His Guominjun would become known for its efforts to combat corruption and inefficiency within its ranks and in the administration of its territories. Feng Yuxiang sought to create a more ethical and efficient government. Feng supported the modernization of China’s infrastructure and industry. This included building railways, improving communications, and promoting technological advancements. The Guominjun was driven by a strong sense of Chinese nationalism, emphasizing the need to unify China and end the fragmentation caused by warlordism. They aimed to establish a central government that could restore national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Guominjun placed a high emphasis on military discipline and modern training methods. Feng Yuxiang’s background in the Beiyang Army influenced his approach to building a modern, professional military force. The Guominjun’s ideological alignment with nationalism and reform brought them into close cooperation with the Kuomintang. The alliance with the KMT was based on shared goals of unification and modernization, though it was sometimes strained by ideological and strategic differences. Because of the geographical distance between their spheres of influence they would be more or less isolated from each other and thus it made it difficult to coordinate actions. Feng Yuxiang had hoped by imprisoning Cao Kun and exiling Puyi he would gain popular support amongst the Republican and anti-Manchu in the Beiyang government. Feng Yuxiang also proclaimed the Guominjun troops to be the first in the history of the Republic to serve as a national military establishment rather than a personal army. However no one forget his acts of treachery, the coup d’etat certainly gave him a bad rep. One of the few successes he would have was persuading Dr Sun Yat-Sen to come over to Beijing to take part in the new government. With the collapse of the Zhili clique, a more tenuous balance of power emerged in Beijing. Feng Yuxiang’s position in Beijing was weakened each day, because of the maneuvers of Zhang Zuolin. He had moved the Fengtian forces south of Manchuria, proceeding south of the Tientsin-Pukou railway. This effectively gave Zhang Zuolin control over East China from Manchuria down to the Yangtze Valley. Alongside this Zhang Zuolin reached an agreement with Duan Qirui to bring him into the new fold. A 5 day conference took place at Tientsin from November 11th to 16th, including the new triumvirate of Zhang Zuolin, Feng Yuxiang and Duan Qirui. They discussed the future of the Beiyang government. Feng Yuxiang quickly discovered he had little negotiating power beyond his dominance in Beijing and even that was tenuous as Zhang Zuolin pretty much surrounded them all. Feng Yuxiang found out his trump card, the promise from Dr Sun Yat-Sen that he would come participate in the new Beiyang government was useless as both Zhang Zuolin and Duan Qirui had likewise received the same promise from him. During the conference the new triumvirate agreed Duan Qirui would become a figurehead of the new government with a position called the chief executive. Despite Duan Qirui’s status as the leader of the practically non-existant Anhui Clique, he was more palatable to the surviving Zhili clique warlords than Zhang Zuolin or Feng Yuxiang. They made sure not to make Duan Qirui a president or premier, his role was specifically meant to be temporary, this was done to lure Dr Sun Yat-Sen over to Beijing. Meanwhile Feng Yuxiang and Zhang Zuolin retained their territories and became the military leaders of the new regime.  On November 24th, Duan Qirui arrived to Beijing and assumed his new office. On December 9th the foreign powers recognized Duan Qirui’s new government on the basis he did not alter their pre-existing unequal treaties. This was inevitable as Japan was the leading imperial power in asia and backed both Zhang Zuoli and Duan Qirui. He formed a cabinet without any Guominjun members. It would seem no one had forgotten Feng Yuxiangs treachery, but then again, his Guominjun had no officers with sufficient prestige to be nominated to any posts. Feng Yuxiang had little hope of exerting any control in the new government.  Feng Yuxiang responded the dire situation by resigning his post as inspector general and retired, stating he would spending his future in study and travel. Yet his Guominjun forces still controlled Beijing. Zhang Zuolin took a cue from his move by also resigning his titles, heading over to Tientsin. Thus Duan Qirui with no military power, personally under threat of Feng Yuxiang’s forces in Beijing was facing a daunting situation. He had to try and maintain the peace between the two warlords while forming a government acceptable to the foreign powers. His government then decided to make Feng Yuxiang and Zhang Zuolin defense commissioners of the northwest and northeast respectively. Feng Yuxiang now would control Suiyuan and Chahar, setting up new headquarters in Kalgan. Feng Yuxiang’s new position did not prove lucrative and it was not an adequate power base. His only real ally was the KMT, but he was far to isolated from them, thus he turned to the Soviet Union.Feng Yuxiangs socialist actions had attracted the attention of communists and indeed within his entourage were many communists. The Soviets were enemies with the Empire of Japan. The Empire of Japan backed Zhang Zuolin, so the enemy of my enemy is my friend. The Soviets basically saw Feng Yuxiang as a possible balance against the Japanese who were continuing to expand their influence in Manchuria. Dr Sun Yat-Sen came to the north alongside the Soviet Michael Borodin. Dr Sun Yat-Sen had pleaded with western nations for a long time to support his government with finance and arms, but none offered anything tangible.  Dr Sun Yat-Sen ‘s problem was his hard stance against the unequal treaties. All of the western powers knew, it was Dr Sun Yat-Sen’s priority to get rid of the unequal treaties, thus they all refused to support his efforts. However there was a new nation that did not support the unequal treaties, in fact they even publicly stated so, the Soviet Union. Back in Autumn of 1920, Sun Yat-Sen met with representatives of the Commuturn in Shanghai. Sun Yat-Sen told them he believed Lenin wanted him to be the founder of the CCP, because Chen Duxiu did not have much influence with the people of China, unlike him, he was after all kind of a rockstar. After numerous attempts to gain support from Japan or the West, Sun Yat-Sen began to seriously consider cooperating with the CCP who were being supported by the Soviet Union.  In December of 1921, Sun Yat-Sen met with Hendriks Josephs Franciscus Marie Sneevliet, known as Marin, because why is his name that long haha, in Guilin. Marin was a official representative of the Commiturn, Sun Yat-Sen came to him expressing his admiration for the Russian Revolution and for Lenin. He stated that he wanted to learn more about the Soviet achievement, especially their new economic policies. In August of 1922, the soviet diplomat to China, Adolf Joffe was trying to settle issues regarding Outer Mongolia and the Chinese Far Eastern Railway, to which he had little to no success, but during the process he also met with Dr Sun Yat-Sen. Sun Yat-Sen brought up the idea of cooperating with the CCP, it sounded promising. For a few months the Soviets brainstormed and by the 4th congress of the Communist international decided to get the CCP to agree to such a thing. In July of 1922 the CCP accepted Marin’s proposal to join the Kuomintang in an alliance. This became known as the Sun-Joffe Manifesto and what it resulted in was the First United Front.  In July the Soviets instructed the CCP to join the alliance, but there was a ton of push back. In Hanzhou, Marin met with Chen Duxiu, Li Dazhao, Cai Hesen , Zhang Guotao, Gao Junyu , Maring , and Zhang Tailei. Marin pointed out to them that the Kuomintang was a party of all classes who were trying to promote democratic revolution. The CCP joining the KMT would be in line with Lenin’s outline on the international communist revolution. Many of the CCP leadership pointed out issues, like anti-communist elements in the KMT, but ultimately they all decided it was a good idea as the reality was, the CCP was only 300 members, they needed help to grow. Thus it was decided, some of the CCP leading figures would join the KMT, with the secret intention of persuading KMT members to join the CCP.  According to testimony from Zhou Fohai, a CCP member at the time who would later join Wang Jingwei’s collaborationist government "At that time, the Soviets wanted to collude with Wu Peifu, so it first gave Wu Peifu the honorific title of 'enlightened warlord'. At that time, Sun Hongyi was close to Wu Peifu, while Li Dazhao was close to Sun Hongyi. They took advantage of this relationship and had a secret relationship with Wu Peifu. Li Dazhao went to Luoyang several times, and it seems that there were records in the newspapers at that time. His methods were really clever. Wu Peifu ordered Gao Enhong to appoint Communists as the chief inspectors of the four lines of Beijing-Hankou, Beijing-Fengtian, Jinpu and Longhai. The inspector of Beijing-Hankou was Bao Huicai, and the inspector of Jinpu seemed to be Li Minzhi... Before the Soviets was abandoned by Wu Peifu, it once had an affair with Chen Jiongming. Chen Jiongming... specially summoned Chen Duxiu to Guangdong as its education committee member Chairman of the National People's Congress. At that time, Chen Jiongming's rebellious deeds were already well known, and Guangdong was clearly divided into two factions, Sun and Chen. The Soviets naturally used its strength to shift the situation. So the Soviets colluded with him. Chen Jiongming paid 500 yuan a month to Chen Gongbo to publish the "Qun Bao", which was a result of their collusion. Later, when Chen Jiongming was hiding in Huizhou, Ma Lin and Tan Pingshan went to Huizhou twice to discuss the terms of cooperation. Who would have thought that Chen Jiongming would dare to bombard Guanyin Mountain and endanger Premier Sun. After this rebellious act, Chen Jiongming was despised by the Chinese people. The Soviets was afraid of the attack of public opinion, so it did not dare to openly ally with him. Abandoned by Wu Peifu in the north and isolated from Chen Jiongming in the south, the Soviets, in 1923, followed the orders of the Third International and tried to infiltrate the Kuomintang and carried out its conspiracy to destroy the Kuomintang. " On January 12th of 1923, the Soviets passed a resolution recognizing the First United Front. Sun Yat-Sen accepted the alliance, but with two reservations; number 1, China would not become a communist nation; number 2 that the Soviets would give up the unequal treaties the Russian Empire previously held over China. On January 26th Sun Yat-Sen and Joffe issued a joint statement, declaring the cooperation between the KMT, CCP and Soviet Union. Now its important to note, Sun Yat-Sen did not believe the Soviet system could or would be functional for China. He believed China’s largest problem was reunification under national independence. The Soviets abolished the unequal treaties that the Russian Empire had made with China and declared Outer Mongolia was part of China resolving that debacle. The Soviets even stated they promised not to carry out a communist revolution within China. Sun Yat-Sen stated publicly he was willing to accept CCP members into the KMT. Now this was clearly only done in order to receive Soviet finances and arms, but secondly, he truly believed their membership would help strengthen the nationalist movement.  Many in the KMT were concerned with this venture. On February 9th of 1924, at Tsinghua University, Sun Yat-Sen was answering questions about the issue where he stated “Russia is Russia, and China is China. Russia has its own ideology, and China has its own ideology. In my previous speech, I mentioned Russia everywhere. I was talking about the organization of its revolutionary party, not its revolutionary ideology.” Now here comes Mr. Borodin. In September of 1923, Borodin was sent to serve as Dr Sun Yat-Sens political advisor, specifically responsible for facilitating the First United Front. Borodin spoke no Chinese, thus he conversed in English. He had a heavy midwestern American accent, which masked his Russian origin, helping him communicate with the largely anglophone and American educated leadership within the KMT. He was accompanied by Ho Chi Minh, yes the future leader of communist Vietnam.  Borodin showed up in early October to Guangzhou where he held some private talks with the CCP. The CCP had been complaining about how the KMT were quite anti-communist in general, how the alliance made no sense if it was agreed there would be no Communist Revolution pushed by the Soviet Union within China. Borodin told them the real purpose of the alliance was actually a reorganization effort and to infiltrate the KMT. "In the newspapers, I talked about the Kuomintang, but for us, what I said was actually the increase in the influence of the CCP... We must never forget that what we are actually doing is to stabilize the CCP. This goal should be remembered forever."  Now despite the new alliance with the Soviets, Sun Yat-Sen did not stop reaching out to the US and Japan causing Borodin headaches. In his report to Stalin, Borodin mentioned that on January 23, 1924, he talked with Sun Yat-Sen "I asked Sun Yat-sen again and again: How long will he hold on to the fantasy that the Chinese people may get some help from the United States, Britain or Japan? Hasn't he been waiting for such help for too long? Isn't it time to sum up the past full of illusions and failures and turn to a new path?" Then in late January of 1924, during the First Congress of the Kuomintang, Sun Yat-Sen expanded upon the Three Principles of the Peoples and this deeply concerned Borodin who reported to Stalin "Sun agreed to the revolutionary program formulated for the Kuomintang, which catered to us; but he disagreed to publicly say that he would establish a united front with us. For this reason, he did not fully trust us." Borodin also came to Sun Yat-Sen about his program stating “You are facing a choice. Do you want to move forward with the 1.5 billion people in the imperialist camp? Or do you want to move forward with the 1.25 billion people who are oppressed by imperialism? You should make a decision”. Although Sun Yat-Sen would accept many of Borodin’s suggestions, ultimately it was Sun Yat-Sen calling the shots, and he butted heads often with Borodin. Borodin stated at one point to those around him "the American spirit was deeply rooted in his mind. Generally speaking, it was difficult to make Sun Yat-sen change his mind." By the end of 1923, Chiang Kai-Shek led Dr Sun Yat-Sen’s delegation to the Soviet Union. Chiang Kai-Shek reported back to Sun Yat-Sen “The strategy and purpose of the Soviet Union’s so-called ‘world revolution’ is more dangerous to the independence movement of Eastern nations than Western colonialism.” Sun Yat-Sen replied that he believed Chiang Kai-Shek was over-worrying and that he “deeply believed that only by allowing the Chinese Communist Party members to be under the leadership of our party and under the unified command of our party can we prevent them from creating class struggles and hindering the progress of our national revolution. If our Northern Expedition is victorious, the Three Principles of the People can be implemented as scheduled. By then, even if the Soviet wants to sabotage our national revolution, it will be impossible. Moreover, the Soviet Union only recognizes our party as the only party leading the revolution in China, and strongly urges its CCP members to join our party and obey its leadership, but does not deny that China has no possibility of implementing its communism. Therefore, it still insists on its decision to ally with Russia and tolerate the CCP” Trouble soon brewed in June of 1924, many leading KMT figures wrote to Sun Yat-Sen accusing the CCP of raising the banner of anti-imperialism and anti-militarism causing the KMT to suffer scorn from western powers and Chinese nationalist scorn. Sun Yat-Sen knew of the problem, it was largely CCP students led by Chen Duxiu making a scene. He explained  "The Chinese young students headed by Chen Duxiu are self-righteous. They initially wanted to monopolize Russian relations and prevent Russia from interacting with our party. Peter used Russia's help to establish his own faction and compete with our party. If I suspect Chen Duxiu and implicate Russia, it will be exactly what Chen Duxiu is planning and help him succeed. If (Chen Duxiu and others) do not obey our party, I will abandon them." Sun Yat-Sen also tried his best to restrict the CCP to be in his own direct orbit. Chen Duxiu had been repeatedly criticizing Sun Yat-Sen's policies in his newspapers, so Sun Yat-Sen went to Borodin to correct the issue. “Since the CCP have joined the KMT, they should obey party discipline and should not publicly criticize the KMT. If the CCP do not obey the KMT, I will expel them; if the Soviet Union protects the Chinese Communist Party, I will oppose the Soviet Union.” Sun Yat-Sen honestly failed to see the threat that the CCP really posed. He truly believed the CCP joined the KMT was not a cooperation between two equal parties. He believed the KMT was China’s only revolutionary party while the CCP were just a group of scholars who supported Leninism. He never really took them seriously, but he also made sure never to give them arms when they continuously demanded them.  As for the CCP, they regarded the KMT as quite backwards, many leaders in the CCP thought Dr Sun Yat-Sen was no different than the warlords. When Marin proposed to the CCP that they join the KMT, Chen Duxiu raised opposition arguing "the purpose and foundation of the revolution of the CCP and the KMT are different. The KMT's policies of alliance with the United States, Zhang Zuolin and Duan Qirui are too incompatible with communism. Outside Guangdong Province, it is still regarded as a political party fighting for power and profit. The Sun Yat-sen faction of the KMT has always been absolutely intolerant of the opinions of new members and cannot give them power". A lot of the CCP resented what they saw as Sun Yat-Sen appeasing the right while disenfranchising them. Once the First United Front was established, the Soviets took over management of the Chinese Eastern Railway and began occupying Outer Mongolia. Then money and arms began pouring in, military advisors came to help create Sun Yat-Sens Northern expedition. Sun Yat-Sen dispatched Chiang Kai-Shek to Moscow to investigate their politics and military, while Borodin was made the KMT’s organization trainer.  In May of 1924 Borodin helped found the Whampoa Military Academy. There officers of the National Revolutionary Army were trained, the backbone of the KMT. They would all under the leadership of Dr Sun Yat-Sen’s number two, Chiang Kai-Shek. The quality of the education was guaranteed by regular visits from Soviet Officers. Many future big names would graduate from the academy, such as Lin Biao and Zhou Enlai. Borodin also established the Peasant Training institute, where a young Mao Zedong would serve. Things were not at all rainbows and sunshine. On May 1st of 1924, a large celebration was held in Guangzhou for the Peasant department. Sun Yat-Sen gave a speech calling on everyone to fight for national liberation and to put the theme of class struggle in a secondary position. This certainly did not sit well with the CCP, whose members began calling for breaking the alliance and arguing the KMT would lose the support of the Soviet Union. Borodin happened to be away at the time, and when prompted, Sun Yat-Sen kept saying they would resolve the matter when he returned. Frantic telegrams were sent and by June 20th Borodin returned. On June 25th a meeting was held with the leaders of the KMT and CCP. Borodin agreed with the point that the CCP was a party within the party of the KMT, but also stated the KMT had to give some ground to the CCP if they wanted to keep favor with the Soviet Union. Suddenly a wave of anti communist statements were lobbed from prominent KMT members, such as Wang Jingwei. They further launched a petition to expel certain communists. On July 15th in retaliation, Chinese workers in Shamian went on strike. Despite these setbacks the First United Front remained firm. Mao Zedong would see an appointment as Minister of Propaganda of the KMT. His job entailed hunting down newspapers and anyone who distributed leaflets, demanding they come to the Propaganda Department for review prior. In the next episode, if not a future one, Mao Zedong’s propaganda department would have a lot of work ahead of them. Now all the way back to when I mentioned Sun Yat-Sen and Borodin visited Feng Yuxiang. Borodin came bearing a similar deal to what the KMT/CCP had with the Soviet Union and at first Feng Yuxiang was uncooperative. Yet cooped up in his Kalgan HQ, Feng Yuxiang had no backers, he was very low on funds. Most importantly he lacked arsenal facilities. Feng Yuxiang had struggled to cope, hunting everyone for backers, but the Northwest was not easily accessible. When he made orders with private traders bound for coastal ports, they were simply seized by local warlords who controlled coastal areas. Without domestic capabilities or access to the sea, Feng Yuxiang was pretty much screwed. Thus he caved into the Soviets  An agreement was bought for Soviet financial aid and munitions by February of 1925, brokered by Borodin. From April to August, war materials began to pour into Feng Yuxiangs camp. The cargo was divided into two shipments, traveling over the trans siberian railway from Moscow to Verkhne Udinsk, then south over caravan trade routes to Maimaicheng. In 1925 it took 500 mongol carts to move the small arms, ammunition, rifles and field guns from Maimaicheng to Ulaan Baater, then over motor vehicles to Pingdichuan, to a station on the Beijing-Suiyuan railway all the way over to Fengzheng. It was a heavy haul to be sure: 5,000 cases of petroleum, 1,000 boxes of ammunition, 15,000 rifles, 15 million rounds of rifle ammunition, 27 colt machine guns, 630,000 machine gun ammunition, 1,000 entrenching tools, 30.000 hand grenades, and 100 poods of explosives. Another haul in 1925 included 64,000 rifles, 15.000 carbines, 72 million rounds of rifle and carbine ammunition, 189 machine guns, 6.45 million rounds of machine gun ammunition, 66 field guns, 18,000 revolvers, 5 million rounds of revolver ammunition, 50 field kitchens, 150 twowheel carts, and 16,000 swords. With a new supply line, Feng Yuxiang would distance himself from Zhang Zuolin. The triumvirate was becoming undone and a new war was looming. I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals [http://www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals]. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. While it seemed a decent compromise had been established with the triumvirate of Zhang Zuolin, Duan Qirui and Feng Yuxiang, dark clouds were emerging. The Guominjun and Kuomintang were both getting in bed with the Reds and soon everyone would be mobilizing for another grand war.
01. jul. 2024 - 30 min
episode 3.105 Fall and Rise of China: 2nd Zhili-Fengtian War artwork
3.105 Fall and Rise of China: 2nd Zhili-Fengtian War
Last time we spoke about the first Jiangsu-Zhejiang War. Wu Peifu and Zhang Zuolin became swift rivals after the first Zhili-Fengtian War. The Zhili clique remained in control of Beijing and began bullying everyone into submission, trying to unify China under their thumb. Zhang Zuolin went to work reorganizing and retraining his army, for another war was looming over the horizon. Then in the southeast of China, conflict emerged between Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. The Zhili backed Qi Xieyuan wanted to control Shanghai, which was under the control of Lu Yungxiang of the Anhui clique. The Anhui clique were on the death bed, Zhejiang was the last province under their control, thus he elected to fight for it. Lu Yungxiang sought help from anyone who possibly could help him, such as Zhang Zuolin and Dr Sun Yat-Sen, but little did he know but he was contributing to a much larger war.    #105 the Second Zhili-Fengtian War Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on history of asia and much more  so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War. Hello again, so after the first Zhili-Fengtian war of 1922, the Zhili warlords seized control over Beijing. Cao Kun bribed his way into the presidency as Zhang Zuolin licked his wounds and went back to Manchuria where he rebuilt his entire army. Zhang Zuolin appointed Yang Yuting as inspector general of the Mukden arsenal and Wang Yintai as director of the department of materials. He began purchasing more Renault FT tanks, increased his military production, now seeing 150 artillery pieces, 1000 machine guns, 60,000 rifles, 100,000 artillery shells and 600,000 rifle rounds pumping out of factories annually. He increased his navy and airforce, naming his son Zhang Xueliang as director of the aviation office. He purchased German and Italian aircraft, nearing 300 planes within 4 groups. Air bases and fields were built alongside naval headquarters and training schools in places like Harbin. To improve communications, additional water and coal supply stations were built in Suizhong, Xingcheng and Dayaogou so he could rapidly deploy troops via rail. Roads were further developed to increase transportation in areas without rail, each army was given wire communications such as telegraph or telephone lines, linking them to their general HQ’s. Radio communication units were also developed, radio stations were built in Shenyang, Harbin and Jin county. The Fengtian military was reformed. Commanders like Bao Deshan and Xu Changyou who were blamed for losing the first zhili-fengtian war were court-martialed and executed in the spring of 1923. The rising star, Dogmeat General Zhang Zongchang aided Zhang Zuolin by massively recruiting White Russians who brought over all sorts of expertise and skills. The White Russians were commanded by Konstantin Petrovich Nechaev, alongside them Zhang also hired Japanese units. The Fengtian army expanded to 27 brigades from its original 25, organized into 3 armies of 3 divisions. Each division had three brigades. The cavalry was expanded from three to four divisions, with three brigades forming a division and the rest attached to infantry divisions as cavalry companies. The artillery regiments expanded from 4 to 10. Each division consisted of three brigades with either an infantry brigade or a combined brigade, and every division had an engineering battalion and a transportation battalion attached. Combined brigades were bolstered with an engineering company and a transportation company. All said an done the strength of the Fengtian army totaled more than 250,000 troops, and its performance was significantly improved. The best troops were found in the 2nd Brigade, commanded by Zhang Xueliang, and the 6th Brigade, commanded by Guo Songling, and they were viewed as the model units of the Fengtian army. The catalyst for what would be known as the second Zhili-Fengtian War, occurred on September 3rd of 1924, the first Jiangsu-Zhejiang War. When Lu Yungxiang of Zhejiang refused to cede administration of Shanghai to Qi Xieyuan, both Zhang Zuolin and Dr. Sun Yat-sen pledged to defend the neutrality of Zhejiang and end pulling everyone into a larger war. On September 4th, Dr Sun Yat-Sen held a meeting at his mansion in Guangzhou. There he announced he would assist Zhejiang to preserve Guangdong, thus he was enacting the Northern Expedition. His plan for the northern expedition was to first attack Jiangxi, after it was conquered next was Anhui. From there his KMT forces would link up with the Zhejiang forces, near the Jinpu road where they could march north to take Beijing. On September the 5th Dr Sun Yat-Sen publicly denounced Cao Kun and Wu Peifu and asked the people of Guangdong to work harder than they ever have so they could eliminate the warlords and China could be ruled by her people again. On September the 4th, in response to the war in the southeast, Zhang Zuolin declared war on the Zhili clique on the grounds of being in an alliance with Zhejiang and Dr Sun Yat-Sen. He also denounced Cao Kun, bringing up his bribery scheme. Zhang Zuolin’s statement, and forgive me its poorly translated went something like this. "Curse Cao Kun with Power who bribed congressmen, raising teeth and claws, and stole power. Cao Kun harms the people. Now I Zhang Zuolin in charge of Manchuria and her people, and who is loyal to the people, and  is duty-bound will lead the three armies to wipe out the thieves." On September the 9th, Duan Qirui added his voice in a telegram against Cao Kun accusing him "of not knowing who the country and the people are, what ethics, justice and integrity are and unleashing four provinces to attack Zhejiang, excluding dissidents, hurting innocent people, and greedy for his own dignity. You have committed a heinous sin, and you have gone too far. How can you survive? The virtuous and powerful people in the world, who have great responsibilities for a while, will definitely be able to do their duty and act bravely when they see justice." On the 15th of September, Zhang Zuolin issued another telegram to Cao Kun, in the form of an ultimatum "This year natural disasters are prevalent and hungry people are everywhere. I have tried to say that attacking Zhejiang is wrong, and I have the strength to respond in favor of peace. However, the ink has not yet dried. Yet at the same time, the Zhili marched into Fengtian, detained Shanhaiguan trains, and blocked traffic. What was the purpose of this? In recent years, Cao Kun has been a puppet of Wu Peifu, which has caused public resentment. The impossibility of a military expedition is evident from the successive defeats of the Zhili army. We planned to send another envoy, but the train traffic has been cut off and we cannot enter Beijing. Therefore, we wait for the final answer." Indeed on September the 13th suddenly all the trains running along the Beijing-Fengtian railway stopped on Zhili orders. The war in Zhejiang had provided Wu Peifu with the occasion to force a showdown with Zhang Zuolin. Wu Peifu felt confident he would win. Wu Peifu had mobilized over a quarter of a million troops, divided into 3 armies. Wu Peifu trusted his military abilities and felt his subordinates were loyal to him, he was highly mistaken in that last part.  It would turn out, the christian general, Feng Yuxiang had major grievances. If you remember from the last episode, when ordered to attack Lu Yungxiang, Feng Yuxiang had refused. Instead Feng Yuxiang weaved a web, he pulled Wang Huaiqing to his side, the Beijing garrison commander Sun Yueh and Hu Qingyi. He complained to them about his army being slighted in the distribution of munition and supplies and he would move his troops very slowly out of Beijing when the war began. As it turned out, secret negotiations had been made. Zhang Zuolin’s son Zhang Xueliang in the spring of 1923 had sent a letter to Feng Yuxiang and then his most trusted lt, Fu Xingpei to Beijing to secretly meet with him. Fu Xingpei met with Feng Yuxiang and his chief of staff Liu Ji at a secluded location in Nanyuan. The first meeting was brief, but fruitful as follow up meetings were made, now mediated through Duan Qiriu. Duan Qiriu brought the parties over to his residence in the Japanese quarter of Tientsin. There Feng Yuxiang was given a bribe between 1-2.5 million Japanese Yen. This bribe came from Zhang Zuolin’s Japanese supplied war chest. Zhang Zuolin afterwards had every reason to believe Feng Yuxiang was in his pocket so he concentrated most of his forces around Shanhaiguan. The Zhili Cliques forces would come from the provinces of Henan, Shandong, Rehe (knowns as Jehol today), Chahar and Suiyuan. Meanwhile the Fengtian would have troops from Jilin, Heilongjiang and Fengtian. The 2nd war certainly exceed the first by a large margin and it would also involve battles over land, sea and air. The Zhili held an edge in numbers, but alienated generals would ultimately lose them the war. There was also an enormous technological gap between the Zhili and Fengtian armies. As I had mentioned the Fengtian had purchased a lot of western and Japanese weaponry and equipment. The Zhili clique also purchased western materials, but they were far behind the Fengtian army. Furthermore the Zhili clique had just experienced a series of small wars in Sichuan, Hunan, Fujian, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guangdong. Their troops were exhausted, lacked pay, and thus morale was not high. Zhang Zuolin’s Fengtian army faced 4 major objectives to see the Zhili clique defeated. Ultimately they needed to capture Beijing and Tianjin. Yet to do so they first had to retake Shanhaiguan so their forces could enter Xujialing. Thus Zhang Zuolin would need to gather his forces near Shanhaiguan to capture it. This task fell to his 1st and 2nd army led by Jiang Dengxuan and Zhang Xueliang. If Shanhaiguan could not be taken, at least two brigades would be needed in the Qiansuo region, where a railroad station was roughly 20 kms east of Shanhaiguan. Once that region was secured, the main force could redeploy around Suizhong county for a second attempt against Shanhaiguan. Next the 2nd army would advance into Rehe, Yi County and Dayaogou. They would then take Chaoyang, Jianping, Chengde and Lingyuan. Most of this responsibility fell onto Zhang Zongchang’s 3rd Combined Brigade and Li Jinglin’s 1st Division. After they completed this they would enter the Lengkou pass and take Luanzhou. A Fengtian cavalry group would attack Rehe with the objective of taking Chifeng. The cavalry group would also cover the flank of other Fengtian forces and mop up the enemy left behind. If the situation arose, the Cavalry group could also attack along the Great Wall via the Xifengkou or Gubeikou pass. The Fengtian reserve forces would be deployed between Xingcheng and Suizhong to guard Jinzhou. The Fengtian air forces headquartered at Shenyang would mobilize 3 groups for the war effort under the direct command of the 1st and 2nd Armies known as the Combined Corps. Other air units would be deployed to Yi county under the command of Zhang Xueliang. Wu Peifu took the title of commander in chief and set up his headquarters in Sizhaotang. Wu Peifu made special arrangements for the battle; his 1st army led by Peng Shouxin would take an eastern route advancing along the Beijing-Fengcheng line to attack Liaoshen from Shanhaiguan; the 2nd army of Wang Huaiqing would advance along the middle route from Xikou to attack Rechao; and the third army of Feng Yuxiang would take the western route from Gubeikou to attack Kailu. Wu Peifu also had set up a commander in chief of maritime defense Zheng Shiqi stationed at Shandong and a naval commander in chief Du Xiui. His air force was organized into 4 groups stationed in Beidaihe, Luanxian, Chaoyang and the Zhili aviation department, over 70 aircraft in total.  On September the 14th, Zhang Zuolin as commander in chief of the Fengtian army led them down the border area. Likewise Wu Peifu did the same from Luoyang. On the 15th the 23rd Brigade of Li Shuangkai, part of Li Jinglin’s 2nd army engaged the Zhili 4th battalion of Yijun Zhenbiao around Yizhou, Jiuguan and Taimen. This effectively kicked off the war. From there the war front would run from Chaoyang to Jidong, with major battles taking place in Rehe, Shanhaiguan, Chaoyang, Chifeng, Jiumenmen and Shimenzhai.  The Fengtian forces planned to unleash their offensive against Shanhaiguan once the initiative was won in Rehe. Therefore Zhang Zuolin personally led the battle in Rehe. The 1st Fengtian army divided into a north and south group. The southern group attacked from Beizhen, passing through Chaoyang and Lingyuang to enter Xifengkou with Wu Junsheng’s cavalry as the main force. The north group ran from Tongliao to Kailu, then headed south to Chengde via Chifeng, then would launch an attack at the western part of Xifengkou.  The southern attack went pretty smooth as the Zhili army did not put up serious resistance. On the 16th the Fengtian forces seized Yizhou and Fuxin. After this they concentrated their attacks against Chaoyang. Liu Fufu defended Chaoyang with the Zhili 26th brigade of the 12th division, but he only put up a symbolic defense, quickly abandoning the city. On the 23rd Chaoyang was occupied by Fengtian forces who scoured the county. Meanwhile the northern group attacked Jianping, Lingyuan and Chifeng. During the battle for Lingyuan, the Fengtian encountered determined resistance from Zhili forces led by Wang Huaiqing and Dong Zhengguo. Both sides suffered heavy casualties, but the Fengtian managed to take the city. Simultaneously the 2nd Fengtian army forces led by Xu Lanzhou and Wu Guangxin attacked Chifeng. The battle for the city raged for a few days seeing Fengtian air forces bomb the city until October 8th when it was captured. The fall of Chifeng marked a decisive moment in the battle for Rehe, the Fengtian had taken the initiative. Now the leading Fengtian troops began a rapid advance towards Lengkou at the foot of the Great Wall. Both sides knew the entire battle depended on Shanhaiguan. The Zhili had heavily fortified it and following the loss of Rehe they continued to strengthen it. Wu Peifu dispatched Peng Shouxin to setup the defenses of Shanhaiguan. Zhang Zuolin had Jiang Dengxuan and Zhang Xueliang form a new headquarters near Shanhaiguan as Guo Songling led the 2nd and 6th Brigades to frontally attack it. As Guo Songling did so, Jiang Dengxuan  and his deputy commander Han Linchun led the 4th and 16th brigades to face the Zhili forces north of Jiumenmen. Small scale battles broke out on the 17th that gradually escalated. On the 29th and 30th, the Fengtian began unleashing artillery and aerial bombardment upon the Zhili positions between Shanhaiguan and Changli. During that process the Fengtian forces seized Wanjiatun, Longwang Temple, Yaojiazhuang and other towns. By October 4th the Fentgian army approached the position of the Zhili 15th division. On the 7th Zhang Zuolin issued a general attack order, sending Fengtian forces across the board. The first line of Zhili troops relied on the solid fortifications and fired back upon the advancing enemy. The Fengtian gradually turned their attention to the Jiumenmen Gate located at the northwest part of the Shanhaiguan pass. On the 8th Jiang Dengxuan personally led the 19th Brigade to attack the Haungtu Ridge on the northside of Jiumenmen. His forces quickly encircled Jiumenmen before the 2nd and 6th brigades stormed and occupied it. The fall of Jiumenmen severed demoralized the Zhili defenders whose lines began to waiver. The Fengtian began breaching lines, capturing Liyu, Waiyu, Xiangmayu and now outflanked Shanhaiguan. At this point a brigade was sent to attack Shimenzhai along the north side of Jiumentou. Shimenzhai is roughly 25 kms away from Shanhaiguan, if captured the Fengtian could use it as a springboard to attack Qinhuangdao, cutting off the Zhili armies line of retreat. In order to protect the line of retreat, Peng Shouxin organized a force to reinforce Shimenzhai. On the 11th, Wu Peifu came over to Shanhaiguan, while also inspecting Shimenzhai, Zhaojiayu, Shahezhai and other significant Zhili positions. Seeing Jiumenmen had fallen, Wu Peifu ordered forces to recapture it on the 14th. The Fengtian defenders there were put into a desperate battle to hold onto it. On the 15th, a Fengtian regiment led by Sun Xuchang broke through the Zhili defensive line. On the 16th the Fengtian forces surged through the breach and stormed Shimenzhai. The Zhili forces routed in the area allowing the Fengtian forces to quickly seize Liujiang. On the 17th Zheng Xizhen led the Zhili 6th brigade to reinforce the battlefield emerging north of Qinhuangdao. Now we need to take a step away from the battle, because a lot of things were happening all over the place, that would have a deep impact on the war. While all of this was going on in the far north, in the south, Dr Sun Yat-Sen personally led the KMT forces north to try and prevent Zhili commander Sun Chuanfang from reinforcing his Zhili comrades in the north. Yet like again, in a fashion that just kept recurring, an issue came about. The Guangzhou merchants corps and forces led loyal to Chen Jiongming began an uprising in Guangzhou. Sun Yat Sen was forced to turn his army back to quell the rebellion. As Sun Yat-Sen pulled back, Sun Chuanfang had brought his forces into Zhejiang and Shanghai.  Meanwhile another ploy on the part of Zhang Zuolin paid off big time. The christian general Feng Yuxiang who was commanding the Zhili 3rd army began making some trouble. When the Zhili 2nd army suffered its initial defeat, Wang Huaiqing sent word asking for help from Feng Yuxiang. Instead he ordered his 3rd army to stay put at the Gubeikou pass.  Now back in the battle Wu Peifu had come to the front lines and was taking charge of operations. Zhili reinforcements arrived from Henan and Shanxi led by Zhang Fulai and began helping a counter attack against Shimenzhai. The Fengtian defenders also reinforced their lines, with Jiang Dengxuan taking command of the front lines personally. Despite the reinforcements, the Fengtian defenses were beginning to crumble, their casualties mounting. At the same time the main Fengtian forces were fighting at Shanhaiguan, failing to make progress. Then the Fengtian army received unconfirmed intelligence from the Japanese, that the Zhili clique had enlisted the Zhengji shipping company to use 13 transports to move 4 divisions directly into the rear of the Fengtian forces via the Taku Forts. The Japanese intelligence did not indicate where the landings would be made however. The Fengtian commanders believed it was possibly Yingkou or Huludao, perhaps both. Many Fengtian commanders called for deploying the general reserve as a rear guard, but the deputy chief of the general staff, Fu Xingpei opposed the idea, claiming the Jiumenkou sector required them. Yang Yuting the chief of the general staff worried the terrain of Jiumenkou was far too narrow and restrictive to deploy such large number of troops. Finally Zhang Zuolin ended the debate by ordering the General Reserve, under the command of Zhang Zuoxiang to rush to Jiumenkou. Despite committing the General reserve, things did not improve. In fact some interpersonal problems emerged. Zhang Xueliang and Guo Songling had secretly redeployed 8 infantry regiments and two artillery brigades from Shanhaiguan to the Jiumenkou sector. These units were to be led by Guo Songling, but the artillery battalion commander, Yan Zongzhou, a classmate of Guo Songling was removed from command by the artillery regiment commander Chen Chen. Upon hearing the news from Yan Zongzhou, enraged Guo Songling removed Chen Chen of command and gave it back to Yan Zongzhou. However Jiang Dengxuan and Han Linchun had given approval to Chen Chen when he asked to remove Yan Zongzhou, so now they were embarrassed. They then complained to Zhang Zuolin about Guo Songling’s actions. Zhang Zuolin ordered both Chen Chen and Yan Zongzhou to go back to their original commands, and this only pissed off Guo Songling more. Like a kindergarten aged child Guo Songling took his 8th infantry regiment out of the battlefield and retreated to the rear. Zhang Xueliang then hunted him down and smooth-talked him to come back and engage the enemy. This entire stupid situation could have very well cost them the battle, fortunately it happened at night and the Zhili army none the wiser did not exploit the situation.  Back over in the Rehe front, Zhang Zongchang stormed the Lengkou pass against 4 Zhili divisions; the 9th led by Dong Zhengguo, the 20th led by Yan Zhitang, the 1st Shaanxi division led by Hu Jingyi and the 23rd led by Wang Chengbin. Unfortunately Wang Chengbin and Hu Jingyi had formed a pact with Feng Yuxiang and literally stepped aside during Zhang Zongchangs attack. To add insult to injury, Yan Zhitang and Dong Zhengguo hated each other and each held back to preserve their own strength. Again in the warlord era, petty warlords would pull this kind of shit all the time. As Zheng Zongchangs forces attacked, basically everyone fled Lengkou. Seizing the opportunity Zhang Zongchang pushed even deeper into the enemy lines. It was around this time, word spread that the First Jiangsu-Zhejiang War had concluded in a Zhili victory, thus it seemed if Shanhaiguan was not taken swiftly, the Zhili would win the war.  Yet the dark horse that was General Feng Yuxiang struck. On October 22nd, Feng Yuxiang betrayed the Zhili Clique. Feng Yuxiang formed a truce with the Fengtian commander Li Jingling on the night of October 20th. He then suddenly withdrew 8000 troops of Wu Peifu’s 3rd and 26th Divisions, leaving only 4000 men at their defensive lines. He took said troops and secretly stormed Beijing where he performed a coup against President Cao Kun. At midnight on October 23rd the commander of the Beijing guards, Sun Yueh admitted Feng Yuxiang and his men into Beijing. Together they seized control over  key government buildings and gates. Feng Yuxiang then forced Cao Kun to dismiss Wu Peifu from his military positions. stripped him of the presidency and placed him under house arrest. Afterwards Feng Yuxiang issued a public statement denouncing the civil war and urged the warlords to settle their differences via negotiations. Feng Yuxiangs subordinates then took control of the railway line between Tientsin and Shanhaiguan and the railway line at Changhsintian south of Beijing. Meanwhile Yan Xishan dispatched a force from Shanxi to seize the railway junction at Shihchiachuang, blocking any movement from Hunan along the Peking-Hankou railway. Thus Qi Xieyuan and Sun Chuanfang could no longer advance north to aid Wu Peifu. Back at the battle, Zhang Zongchang saw the thinning of the defensive lines when Feng Yuxiang pulled men out and stormed it alongside Li Jinglin. Their forces broke through and advanced south along the Luan River towards Luanzhou, then in the direction of Tianjin. They seized the train station at Luanzhou as Sun Xuchang’s 10th Brigade captured Jiumenkou. The Fengtian cavalry then stormed the Xifengkou pass and pushed forward. By this point the Zhili morale had all but disappeared as news of Feng Yuxiang’s coup in Beijing was spreading along the lines. Even cry baby Guo Songling, hearing the news, grabbed his force and performed an all out charge into the Zhili lines breaking through and advanced eastwards. Now cut off between Qinhuangdao and Shanhaiguan, on the 31st of October, many high ranking Zhili officers began fleeing via ships at Qinhuangdao. Countless Zhili forces were surrounded and began mass surrendering. Wu Peifu meanwhile fled first to Tianjin where he began frantically telegraphing Zhili armies in Jiangsu, Henan, Hubei and Zhejiang for help. Things got even worse, more railway lines were cut by Anhui clique members such as Zheng Shiqi in Shandong, Cangzhou and Machang. Likewise Zheng Shishangs cut lines of the Jinpu railway at Hanzhuang and even Yan Xishan came out of his turtle shell to cut the Jinghan railway line at Shijiazhuang. The Fengtian army overran Tangshan and Lutai asFeng Yuxiang’s forces stormed Yangcun and Beicang, forcing Wu Peifu to flee to Junliangcheng. Then Duan Qiriu sent a message to Wu Peifu advising he should depart by sea. Completely surrounded with no allies, Wu Peifu fled with 2000 troops on the transport Huajia on November 3rd. He went to Tanggu where Sun Chuanfang defended him.  It had been the most impressive war of the warlord period to that point. Nearly 450,000 troops had been involved in a month-long war along the Great Wall area from Shanhaiguan to Beijing. The casualties are tough to estimate, perhaps 20-30,000 perished. After taking Beijing, Feng Yuxiang reorganized his forces in the 1st Guominjun army, hiring his co-conspirators such as Sun Yueh and Hu Chingyi who would eventually lead the 2nd and 3rd armies. On November 5th, Zhang Zuolin removed Emperor Puyi from the Forbidden City. Puyi went into exile in Tianjin where the Japanese would keep a close eye upon.  Zhang Zuolin, Feng Yuxiang and Duan Qiriu then met in Tianjin where they agreed to form a provisional government with Duan Qiriu as its figurehead. The choice of Duan Qiriu seemed to be palatable to everyone, including the remaining Zhili warlords in the Yangtze region. On December 9th, Duan Qiriu’s government was recognized. Dr Sun Yat-Sen of course refused to recognize the new Beiyang government and would begin to flirt more with the CCP and their larger backer, the Soviet Union.  For now the Beiyang government, for whatever it was actually worth, remained in the hands of three players. Duan Qiriu who no longer possessed a strong army, Feng Yuxiang who had just shown himself to be quite a treacherous man and did not wield a very strong army and lastly Zhang Zuolin who now wielded the largest army in China, was backed by Japan and controlled vast sums of territory.  I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals [http://www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals]. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. So the First Jiangsu-Zhejiang and Second Zhili-Fengtian Wars were now over. It seems Zhang Zuolin had just become king of the hill, but what did that mean for China? Would Zhang Zuolin pursue a policy of reunifying China? Would he expand south? Or would the chaos continue, what do you think?
24. jun. 2024 - 32 min
episode 3.104 Fall and Rise of China: First Jiangsu-Zhejiang War artwork
3.104 Fall and Rise of China: First Jiangsu-Zhejiang War
Last time we spoke about the first Zhili-Fengtian War. The Anhui-Zhili War of 1920 saw the defeat of the Anhui clique by the Zhili and Fengtian cliques, reshaping territorial control. Despite their victory, stability remained nowhere to be seen in North China. Factionalism persisted, with alliances shifting and power struggles intensifying. Zhang Zuolin of the Fengtian clique emerged a significant player with Japanese backing while Wu Peifu of the Zhili clique earned fame as a military genius. Soon a rivalry emerged between the two leading figures while they also tried to unify China. Meanwhile, in South China, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen's plans for a Northern Expedition faced challenges amidst internal dissent and external pressures. In the end Zhang Zuolin formed a grand coalition to defeat Wu Peifu and it backfired spectacularly. Wu Peifu won the first Zhili-Fengtian War and now it would be him in the driver's seat in Beijing.   #104 the First Jiangsu-Zhejiang War Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on history of asia and much more  so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War. Wu Peifu, who had been born of poor parents in 1874 and had earned the lowest degree in the traditional Qing examination system, decided he would seek out a military career in the Beiyang Army. By 1905 he became a junior officer to Cao Kun’s 3rd Division. Wu Peifu had a traditional confucian upbringing, he remained loyal to Cao Kun because of that special confucian bond between mentor and student. He remained loyal despite Cao Kun’s numerous failings, even when he threw his lot in with Zhang Zuolin to save his own ass at Wu Peifu’s expense. The Zhili victory during the first Zhili-Fengtian war emboldened Cao Kun’s ambitions, he soon unleashed his henchmen all over Zhili province snatching up major positions. Cao Kun began a campaign of bribery and intimidation, something very reminiscent of the late Yuan Shikai. After his victory, Wu Peifu returned to Henan province, sending the newly appointed inspector general of the army, Feng Yuxiang to Beijing. Those in Henan strongly petitioned against Feng Yuxiangs transfers as he had gained an excellent reputation as the civil administrator in Henan. Where Wu Peifu went it seemed banditry and extortion flourished. Yet Wu Peifu needed Feng Yuxiang to be in Beijing so he could re-establish his authority in his home base. As we had seen in the last episode, the Zhili Clique was not sturdy. Unlike the Fengtian and Anhui, the Zhili clique was made up of a lot of riff raff, who only joined forces as a means to an end, notably to get rid of their enemies. Feng Yuxiang concentrated his army at Nanyuan, due south of the capital. He went to work, checking fingernails, training his men in the good word of the lord, his men being a single division and 3 mixed brigades now. Feng Yuxiang had come a long way, now probably the most powerful warlord in Zhili province, and he made sure to establish good relations with Cao Kun and his brother Wang Huaiqing the commander of the Beijing police. In June of 1923 Feng Yuxiang and Wang Huaiqing would jointly present their resignations to President Li Yuanhong, stating unless their men were paid, they could no longer be responsible for maintaining order in the capital. Yes the finances of China were in a terrible state. Chinese diplomats were struggling abroad to find foreign banks to loan money, and even they were not getting paid and were resigning en masse. Wu Peifu likewise was not receiving a cent from the central government. After several days of standoff, Li Yuanhong fled Beijing on June 13th, taking the presidential seals with him, issuing orders countersigned by only a single cabinet minister who backed him, the minister of agriculture, and Yunnan general Li Kenyuan. It seems for Li Kenyuan it was a bad call, for Cao Kun forced him out of office within a few months. Cao Kun then bribed his way into office by October 10th. It was an infamous bribery story. Apparently Cao Kun bribed assembly members with 5000 silver dollars each. This act was so egregious, it basically pissed off everyone. The hate tossed Cao Kun’s way would help bolster Dr Sun Yat-Sen’s continuing efforts in south china, basically saving his career. Cao Kun began his presidency proclaiming a constitution incorporating ideas of a federalist government and then promoted Feng Yuxiang and other notable generals to the rank of Marshal. While Cao Kun began consolidating his control in Zhili, a humiliated Zhang Zuolin would lick his tiger wounds and rebuild in the northeast.  After rallying his troops back together once back in Manchuria, Zhang Zuolin quickly declared his 3 provinces in Manchuria were independent of China. The Beijing government under Cao Kun had immediately gone to work trying to coerce defections amongst the Fengtian generals. Cao Kun tossed extravagant positions, such as governorships to them, but only one notable General, Kao Shihpin took the bribe and rebelled against Zhang Zuolin. Zhang Zuolin’s loyal subordinate, great friend to the show, the dogmeat general Zhang Zongchang, easily defeated the defector. Now that Manchuria was independent, Zhang Zuolin firmly repressed any efforts of his provincial assemblies to create civil governments independent of his military control. Thus governmental positions in Manchuria remained in the hands of loyal Fengtian Clique members. Because Zhang Zuolin was now very hostile to all in the Zhili clique, relations with Dr Sun Yat-Sen improved. Thus Zhang Zuolin began propagating the language of national unification, anti-imperialism etc etc. Economically Zhang Zuolin began developing railway lines and built a new port at Hulutao, both of which were competing with the Japanese owned South Manchurian Railway company and port at Dairen. Zhang Zuolin knew full well most of China regarding him as a Japanese puppet. The Japanese however completely failed him in the first-zhili fengtian war, thus he was trying to sport some backbone against them.  Zhang Zuolin and his top commanders took their loss in 1922 to heart. He began a large-scale reorganization of his military. In 1922 his forces had been organized into 5 Divisions, of which the 16th and 28th disintegrated. The 27th and 29th along with a new reorganized 1st were retained at the divisional level, while the rest of the troops formed into the 1st to 27th Mixed Brigades and 1st to 5th Cavalry Brigades. He standardized the units, 150 men formed a company, 3 companies a battalion, 3 battalions a regiment, 3 regiments a brigade at 4000 men strong. He reshuffled commanders and began promoting officers with professional education and less so the banditry opium smoking types he typically preferred in the past. He really made an effort to purchase new weaponry and expanded the output of the Mukden arsenal.  During the warlord Era, modern weaponry was expensive to come by, those like the banditry that made up the Fengtian clique used what they got their hands on. The Hanyang 88 based off the German Gewehr 1888 had been the standard Qing rifle and was widely available. There was also a smaller quantity of Type 1 rifles, a Chinese knockoff of the Mauser Model 1907. Given Manchuria’s proximity to Russia and Japan, rifles that found their way into Fengtian hands included the Russian Mosin-Nagant 1891, Japanese Murata’s and Arisakas of 1897 and 1905. These were not ideal, pretty outdated, but in general most of the Chinese warlord armies were branding antiquated rifles. In 1922 the Mukden Arsenal was capable of producing just a small amount of ammunition. Zhang Zuolin had always relied on piecemeal packages given to him, at first from Yuan Shikai, then Duan Qirui and the Japanese on and off. Most of the supplies he got were japanese made. He also managed to seize a lot from the Anhui clique during their war in 1920. Something of great value he often seized were cars, by 1926 there were only something like 8000 cars in all of China, it was a very hot commodity. French Renault FT tanks had been deployed to Vladivostok for the allied intervention and siberian campaign, many were sold to him after 1919. Zhang Zuolin would poor 17 million yuan into expanding the Mukden Arsenal after his loss in 1922, he hired numerous foreign advisors to overlook the process. The Mukden Arsenal ballooned to an operating budget of a million yuan, employing nearly 30,00 workers, including foreign specialists. Fengtian would become China’s largest arms importer, purchasing from Germany, Italy, France and of course the majority came from Japan. Type 3 Heavy machine guns from Japan flooded in and 14 Renaults from France. The Fengtian began utilizing mines, barbed wire, armored trains, particularly Zhang Zongchang and tanks when possible. Zhang Zongchang  purchased 4 new gunboats who became the nucleus of a naval force in the Gulf of Chihli and began developing an air force. By 1923 he purchased 40 French Breguet aircraft that would be operated by 20 foreign pilots. He also looked to the future, at his son Zhang Xueliang. By 1923 his army was nearly 200,000 strong, certainly formidable, but ridden with issues. A year of intense training had greatly improved the Fengtian forces, but Zhang Zuolin was behind those like Dr Sun Yat-Sen, Wu Peifu and even Feng Yuxiang in trying to infuse within the training some sort of ideology. Zhang Zongchang rose to further prominence during this time period. He had of course gained a lot of respect from Zhang Zuolin after quelling Kao Shihpin. He began amassing a great fortune through extortion, violence and opium dealing. Zhang Zuolin was still receiving assistance from the Japanese, despite not exactly aligning with their wishes. For Zhang Zuolin, tossing away some autonomy was merely a tactical move for his drive to conquer China. Thus it was a means to an end. For the Japanese, they sought an absolute hegemony over Manchuria. In August of 1923, Zhang Zuolin turned to Major General Honjo Shigeru, his Japanese advisor for Japanese arms in anticipation of another war against the Zhili clique. Honjo responded by denying him the request and criticized the Fengtian army’s level of training and readiness. Then he basically went on to say that Japan would continue to support, as long as he did not invade China proper, “the Empire always demands that you exercise circumspection so that order may be maintained in the Eastern Provinces”. Regardless of the Japanese position on the issue, Zhang Zuolin had taken enormous lengths to reorganize and retrain his army. Simply put, he had grown too strong for the Zhili clique to leave him alone.  Yet the tiger of Manchuria was not the only problem facing the Zhili clique, there was also Dr Sun Yat-Sen’s coalition in the south. Then a minor incident, a train robbery in Shandong occurred in april of 1923. Several foreigners were kidnapped and ransomed. Alongside this the feeling in the air was that a war was about to break out at any moment. The foreigners wanted a stable China, the people of China wanted an end to the wars. Thus the foreign diplomats and Chinese officials began demanding the Zhili and Fengtian cliques sign a peace treaty before another war broke out. A peace agreement was reached in June of 1923, what that piece of paper actually meant, who knows.  In the meantime, the Zhili clique began focusing on the remnants of the Anhui clique over in Fujian and Zhejiang province. In march of 1923, Zhili clique member Sun Chuanfang was appointed military governor of Fujian. Sun Chuanfang was the former protege of the previous military governor of Hubei, Wang Chanyuan and he much like Feng Yuxiang was becoming a rising stay. Sun Chuanfang was being bolstered heavily by Cao Kun. Sun Chuanfang drove the Anhui clique’s military governor Wang Yungchuan out of Fuzhou and by early 1924, Fujian province was more or less firmly Zhili dominated. Wu Peifu intended to use Fujian as a springboard to conquer Guangdong. Meanwhile the remaining Anhui warlord, Lu Yungxiang of Zhejiang was obviously panicking. Lu Yungxiang held control over Zhejiang and thus also Shanghai, including her arsenal and extensive revenues from foreign trade, the opium trade and had access to foreign markets. Fearing the Zhili would crush him at any moment, he jumped into bed with Zhang Zuolin and Dr Sun Yat-Sen directly after the Anhui cliques defeat back in 1920. Basically to garner their support and that of foreigners, Lu Yungxiang publicly opposed Cao Kun when he bribed his way into the presidency.  On November 10th of 1923, the police chief of Shanghai, Zhili clique member Xu Guoliang was assassinated. It has been alleged Xu Guoliang was killed by henchmen of Lu Yungxiang. A battle emerged between Lu Yungxiang and the military governor of Jiangsu, Qi Xieyuan over appointing a new successor. You might be asking, “why would two people be fighting over this issue, isn't Shanghai under the jurisdiction of Jiangsu?” Yeah funny thing about that, the city was at the time being administered by Lu Yungxiang as part of Zhejiang. While historically Shanghai had typically been part of Jiangsu province, after the first Zhili-Fengtian War, Lu Yungxiang seized control over the city and it basically became his economic lifeline. Both men fought and nearly began a war, but to preserve the peace they began negotiating and signing minor treaties. Both men agreed not to take allies to fight another and not to allow other warlords armies to pass through each other's provinces, nor augment their current armies. Despite everything it was clear to Lu Yungxiang that Zhejiang was next on the chopping block for the Zhili clique, thus in order to protect himself he hired the Anhui clique Generals Zang Zhiping, the commander of the Fujian 2nd Division and Yang Huazhao the commander of the Fujian 3rd Division, together they were roughly 6000 men strong. Obviously their recruitment violated the peace treaty, and alongside this, Lu Yungxiang gave refuge to many Anhui troops fleeing Fujian. This handed the Zhili clique justification to provoke a war. Meanwhile Qi Xieyuan had expanded his military strength in preparation for seizing Shanghai. He began recruiting troops in Yanzhou and Jining. Initially within Jiangsu Qi Xieyuan had 5 Divisions and 6 Brigades, roughly 43,000 men. Qi Xieyuan also had the support of Naval commander Du Xigui who led 20 warships with some marines. Qi Xieyuan also had a minor airforce sporting some Vime bombers purchased from the UK.  As for Zhejiang, Lu Yungxiang reorganized the two Fujian divisions he recruited into a supplementary Brigade and the 24th Mixed Brigade. These added to his divisions and Brigades brought his manpower to nearly 70,000. Lu Yungxiang also had the support of a Shanghai based fleet led by Anhui clique commander Lin Jianzhang and a small airforce sporting French BR14 fighter bombers. Now Qi Xieyuan knew he had no chance in hell of capturing Zhejiang and Shanghai with his forces alone, so he cried to Wu Peifu. Wu Peifu was of course looking down the barrel of a much larger war with Zhang Zuolin, and he had plans to garner Anhui clique support to his side in the future war. In the meantime he asked Qi Xieyuan to lay low and not do anything rash. So Qi Xieyuan did the very opposite. Qi Xieyuan held a secret military meeting in Nanjing, announcing to other warlords from Henan, Anhui and Hubei that he was going to invade Zhejiang. They all wanted a piece of the pie so the game was on.Qi Xieyuan appointed himself commander in chief and created 3 route armies to attack Zhejiang and Shanghai. The first route army was commanded by Gong Bangduo who would mainly be attacking Shanghai, the second route army was led by Chen Tiaoyuan who would mainly defend Yixing and the third route army was led by Wang Pu who would mainly attack Guangde of Zhejiang. In addition to all of this, Sun Chuanfang with support from Cai Chengxun the governor of Jiangxi organized a Fujian-Jiangxi alliance at Jianou. He too would attack Zhejiang, but his ambitions were much larger than just helping Qi Xieyuan.  The Anhui clique warlords knew that if Zhejiang and Shanghai fell to the Zhili the Anhui clique was all but done for. Thus many of them such as Xu Shuzheng, Wu Guangxin, Ma Liang and Qu Tongfeng began recruiting to fight for Zhejiang. Lu Yungxiang welcomed their help and asked them to send word to the Fengtian clique for additional aid. Dr Sun Yat-Sen also said if war broke out between Jiangsu and Zhejiang he would try to send forces of his Northern Expedition army.   By August of 1924, Sun Chuanfang had moved his troops directly over to the Fujian-Zhejiang border. At 10am on September 3rd of 1924 the first shot of the Jiangsu-Zhejiang war rang around Yixing of Jiangsu province. The Jiangsu forces originally sought to capture Changxing in Zhejiang in one lighting attack, but they found extremely strong resistance. Zhejiang artillery in the mountains surrounded Changxing, roughly 30 miles from Yixing kept them at bay, causing an immediate stalemate. By 11am the fighting made its way along the Shanghai-Nanjing railway. By 10am the next day the Jiangsu forces at Huangdu began firing at Zhejiang fortifications, but the Zhejiang defenders did not fire back. Lured in by the idea the fortifications might be unguarded, Jiangsu forces came over only to be gunned down by machine guns and artillery, killing possibly hundreds. The Zhejiang fighters stormed out of the fortifications to pursue the enemy and by 5pm captured Anting in the process.  Now on the political side of things, because Qi Xieyuan launched the first punch, Lu Yungxiang proclaimed he was only defending his territory. Qi Xieyuan in the meantime proclaimed he was working under Cao Kun, thus Lu Yungxiang began tossing accusations at Cao Kun about his bribery scandal, calling him a treacherous dog, you know normal stuff. Now all this Cao Kun talk, prompted Cao Kun to issue officials orders on September 4th to attack Zhejiang. I wont be getting into here, but this sparked the second Zhili-Fengtian war essentially. So while we focus on this smaller war in a bigger war, don’t forget about the bigger war. Now by September the 5th the Jiangsu-Zhejiang war saw battles going on in 5 directions: Yixing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Jiading, Liuhe and Qingpu. Within the Yixing battles, the Jiangsu forces were initially blocked, facing Zhejiang counterattacks, roughly 10 miles from Yixing. The Jiangsu forces were battered, 3 battalions defected on the 6th. On the 7th, the Zhejiang forces entered Shushan, prompting Qi Xieyuan to mobilize the Anhui 5th Mixed brigade to reinforce the area, finally halting the Zhejiang advance. Another stalemate emerged, now between Shushan and Yixing. Over at the Shanghai-Nanjing railway line area, after two quiet days, on the night of the 6th the two armies clashed around Anting. Both sides were evenly matched forming a quick stalemate. In the Jiading area on the night of the 3rd the Jiangsu stormed the west gate of Jiading, the defenders were barely holding on. Lu Yungxiang deployed Yang Huazhao’s army who made it over on the 5th. Both sides fought fiercely for days. Over in the Liuhe direction, during the afternoon of the 4th the Jiangsu forces advanced, but the Zhejiang artillery kept them at bay. By 5pm however the Zhejiang defenders were overwhelmed allowing the Jiangsu forces to seize Liuhe as the defenders fled to Luodian. At 3am on the 5th the Jiangsu forces continued their advance, only to see the Zhejiang forces circle back and recapture Liuhe. The Jiangsu forces tossed numerous counterattacks, but were repelled and forced to pull back to their start lines. Over in the Qingpu area on the 5th the Jiangsu divided themselves in two groups departing Anting. One group attack Si Port, only 6 miles away from Anting, the other group attacked Baihe due southwest. By 3pm on the 6th both sides were fighting  around Kongzhai, just 10 miles north of Qingpu. The Zhejiang managed to halt the Jiangsu. Thus after a few days, across all the battle areas, pretty much no one was making significant progress. Just as it looked like the stalemate would not break, on the 8th the Sun Chuanfang’s Jiangsu-Fujian attacked. They quickly occupied Xianxia, Jiangshan and Quzhou by the 18th. Lu Yungxiang saw the enemy closing in on Shanghai and panicked. He knew combined these forces could launch two pronged attacks and overwhelm him. Thus Lu Yungxiang sacrifice Zhejiang as a whole and withdrew to Shanghai with his most elite forces. Now leaderless the rest of the Zhejiang army was simply blown away by the Jiangsu-Fujian forces. They quickly seized Jiaxing, Changxing and other cities. The Jiangsu navy began bombarding coastal and riverside towns as the airforce bombed them as well. Facing a three dimensional war, the Zhejiang forces crumbled and by the end of September Zhejiang defense ceased. The Fujian-Jiangsu armies rushed to Shanghai, occupying Jinshanwei, Songjiang, Qingpu and Longhua by October 13th. At that point Lu Yungxiang realized they could not hope to hold Shanghai, so he alongside other warlords fled into the Shanghai international Concession. The rest of the Zhejiang forces fell to Xu Shuzheng who was placed under house arrest. Thus Qi Xieyuan and Sun Chuanfang were victorious. The war between Jiangsu and Zhejiang lasted roughly 40 days. It was a tremendous disaster for the common people who resided in both provinces who were displaced. The Jiangsu provincial peasants association relayed a message after the war to the state council stating "In the war between Jiangsu and Zhejiang, the army passed by, the villages and towns were ruins, the people were migrating, and they were unemployed. The rich were poor, and the poor were dead. No one knows how many people died in the war zones around Jiangnan and Yixing, This is especially true in Kunshan, Jiading, Taicang, Songjiang, Qingpu and other counties.” The Jiading, Qingpu, Songjiang and Taicang associations added this to the state council "The war broke out in Jiangsu and Zhejiang, and the two provinces were severely affected. In Jiangsu, the four counties of Jiading, Qingpu, Songjiang, and Taicang were the most severely affected, entire towns were destroyed, robbed, or displaced, and the situation was inexplicable... In short, the businesses stopped and the farmers fled. In the past sixty years, their vitality has been exhausted." The Liuhe War Disaster Relief association wrote this report to the Ministry of Internal affairs "The Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces used the Liuhe River as the battlefield, and the stalemate lasted for forty days and nights. People's lives and property were destroyed by artillery fire, and they were repeatedly raped and plundered. The navy also fired long-distance artillery fire from time to time. Therefore, many houses were burned and bombed, such as schools, temples, shops, churches, charity halls, hospitals, and long-distance buses, which were all destroyed by the soldiers... A total of 154 houses in the city were destroyed by artillery fire. Of the 1,529 houses, about 3,300 were damaged by shells, and the total damage was estimated to be over 770,000 yuan. The merchants and civilians in the houses were not affected by this war disaster. For this reason, the residents were exiled and their houses were no longer available, and they were unable to resume operations. The situation was so miserable that it was difficult for them to do so."  Both sides' casualty figures ranged in the thousands to tens of thousands. Official reports stated 30,000 total casualties for the war, with hundreds dying each day of it. However the greatest harm fell upon civilians. Young recruits, often having not been paid for long periods of time, resorting to looting and robbing. Civilians panicked and fled their homes. Women were pressed into service as cooks and in brothels, known sometimes as public wives. Civilians were forced to work for the soldiers, performing things like transporting ammunition, digging trenches and such. They were beaten with gun handles if they did not comply, those who ran were whipping, many were shot. Gang rape was an epidemic, there was a tragic story of an 8 year old girl and a 78 year old women were were gang raped to death by 13 soldiers near Fangtai while they were out picking cotton. Waves of refugees roamed the region, Japanese survey’s indicated the Shanghai international concession ballooned with 500,000 refugees. When Lu Yungxiang fled for Shanghai, his Zhejiang army simply looted the province.  Economic losses were insanely high. These losses came from warlords extorting or expropriating to meet military demands. It was estimated that the military expenditure of both sides was 60-70 million yuan. Neither provincial taxes could support such numbers so the warlords forced banks and governments to allocate things like treasury exchange coupons. Sun Chuanfang extorted 800,000 yuan from the Huangzhou banks and would later extort another 1 million yuan from the Shanghai business community. Soldiers burned, killed and looted as was the norm of warlord China. As you can imagine the government bond price plummeted from all of this, banks foreclosed, financial ruin ensued. The entire financial industry of Jiangsu and Zhejiang went on strike because of the war and all of this of course impacted China’s overall economy.  Now as I alluded to, the Jiangsu-Zhejiang war was not only a war fought over two provinces in southeast China, but rather a contest between the entire Zhili clique against an emerging anti-Zhili coalition. It was also another disastrous blow to the already dramatically weakened Anhui clique, who pretty much would never recover. From this point forward the Anhui clique would not wield much presence politically or militarily. Although the war was clearly limited in scope to the southeast corner of China, it had an enormous impact across the nation. At the time the Zhili clique was in firm control over Beijing and was vigorously trying to unify China by force, threatening all the other cliques' warlords. Lu Yungxiang desperately looked for anyone to help him out, even turning to Cao Kun and Wu Peifu, asking them to restrain Qi Xieyuang. Of course neither Zhili leader headed this as they very much wanted Zhejiang to fall into their pocket, but they had no idea what a powder keg Zhejiang would turn out to be.  I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals [http://www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals]. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. The First Jiangsu-Zhejiang War was but a mere cog in a larger war that was unfolding across China. The Warlord Era was simply one battle to the next, as the warlords fought to unify China in their own special image. The common people are always the ones to pay the price.
17. jun. 2024 - 31 min
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