graduate

Ch'en Ch'eng (ca. 1897-1965)


Photograph of Ch'en Ch'eng

Wikimedia Commons

Ch'en Ch'eng (Chen Cheng) was born between 1897 and 1900 in Chekiang province, China. He graduated from the Paoting Military Academy and served with several different warlords before joining the Kuomintang. He was a close political associate of Chiang Kai-shek and was an important commander in the latter's anti-warlord and anti-Communist campaigns. Among other accomplishments, Ch'en crushed the offensive against Kanchow by 5, 7, and 8 Corps of the Communist forces under P'eng Te-huai in February 1932, and defeated P'eng a second time at Kwangchow in January 1934.

Ch'en accompanied Chiang to Sian in 1936 and the two were kidnapped by Chiang Hsueh-liang and compelled to commit to join the Communists in a United Front against Japan. Chiang designated Ch'en as his successor, which created a bitter rivalry between Ch'en and War Minister Ho Ying-chin. Chiang ordered Ch'en to relieve Chang Chih-chung as commander of the Chinese troops at Shanghai in August 1938, at the height of the battle. However, Ch'en star was dimmed considerably by his defeat at Wuhan in 1938, which opened the Yangtze valley to the Japanese clear to I'chang.

At a military conference in November 1938, Ch'en stated that victory depended on

... whether we can seize the initiative and conduct mobile warfare throughout the entire country, in order to harass and disperse enemy forces, thereby leading to their attrition and total destruction.

It was a call for guerrilla tactics.

Ch'en was apparently in personal command of 66 Army in Yunnan, on the border with Burma, when war broke out in the Pacific. He was highly thought of by Stilwell, who insisted that he be given command of Chinese forces for the Burma offensive of 1943. However, Ch'en was dismissed in 1944, purportedly due to ill health, but it seems likely there was another reason: Ch'en was a close associate of T.V. Soong, brother of Madame Chiang and the Kuomintang's representative in the United States. Disgusted with the corruption and inefficiency of the Chinese army, he may have played a role in an abortive attempt to replace Chiang with Soong.

Ch'en was given command of Kuomintang forces in Manchuria in August 1947. He vigorously purged former Japanese puppet soldiers and corrupt officials, making himself so disliked in the process that he was recalled by Chiang. Made governor of Taiwan (Formosa) in December 1948, he is credited with establishing excellent relations with the Taiwanese, thus making possible the retreat to the island in 1949.

Ch'en was a capable leader who saw the need for drastic reform of the Chinese Army. He was also an effective diplomat, serving as Chiang's main channel of communications to the more recalcitrant warlords and even the Communist representatives in the United Front.  However, he grew increasingly ill with stomach ulcers, which probably degraded his effectiveness in the crucial early stages of the postwar civil war.

Service record

1897?     

Born in Chekiang province
1927
Major general     
Commander, 27 Division
1928

Commander, 11 Division
1929
Lieutenant general     
Commander, 18 Army
1933

Commander, 3 Route Army
1934

Commander, Northern Route Bandit Suppression Force
1935

Director of Army Reorganization Department, Wuchang
1937

Commander, Left Wing, 3 War Area
1937

Vice-minister of war
1937

Commander, Wuhan Garrison
1938

Commander, 9 War Area
1940

Commander, 6 War Area
1944

Commander, 1 War Area
1944

Minister of War
1946

Chief, General Staff
1947

Director, Notheast Field Headquarters, Manchuria
1949

Governor of Taiwan
1950-1954      

President, Executive Yuan
1958

President, Executive Yuan
1960

Vice-president, Republic of China
1965

Dies

References

Domes (1985)

Dorn (1974)

Dupuy et.al. (1992)

Fenby (2003)

Generals.dk (accessed 2008-1-21)

Harmsen (2013)



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