Yan Xishan ; 8 October 1883 – 22 July 1960) was a Chinese warlord who served in the government of the Republic of China. He effectively controlled the province of Shanxi from the 1911 Xinhai Revolution to the 1949 Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War. As the leader of a relatively small, poor, remote province, he survived the machinations of Yuan Shikai, the Warlord Era, the Nationalist Era, the Japanese invasion of China and the subsequent civil war, being forced from office only when the Nationalist armies with which he was aligned had completely lost control of the Chinese mainland, isolating Shanxi from any source of economic or military supply. He has been viewed by Western biographers as a transitional figure who advocated using Western technology to protect Chinese traditions, while at the same time reforming older political, social and economic conditions in a way that paved the way for the radical changes that would occur after his rule.
During the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–45), most regions of Shanxi were quickly overrun by the Japanese, but Yan refused to flee the province even after losing the provincial capital, Taiyuan. He relocated his headquarters to a remote corner of the province, effectively resisting Japanese attempts to completely seize Shanxi. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese made no less than five attempts to negotiate peace terms with Yan and hoped that he would become a second Wang Jingwei, but Yan refused and stayed on the Chinese side.
Su Tiren (1888–1979) was a Republic of China politician. He was born in Shuozhou, Shanxi. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, he governed his home province initially on behalf of the Provisional government of Wang Kemin and after 1940, for the government of Wang Jingwei in Nanjing. In 1943, he was briefly mayor of Beijing. After the defeat of the Japanese in World War II, he went to Taiyuan where he served under Yan Xishan. With the fall of Beijing and Taiyuan to the communists in the Chinese Civil War, he fled to Lanzhou, Gansu before making his way to Hong Kong. He died in Taiwan.
Tang Xiangming (1885–1975) was a Chinese naval officer. Tang studied Naval warfare in France and the United Kingdom. In 1905, he joined the Chinese United League (Tongmenghui). In 1911, during the Wuchang Uprising, Tang, under the command of Admiral Sa Zhenbing, sailed to Hankou as part of the Qing Navy's assistance to the Qing Army operations in the area. In December 1915, he supported Yuan Shikai's creation of the Empire of China (1915–1916). After Yuan's death, he supported the Zhili clique until their defeat by the Fengtian clique in the Second Zhili–Fengtian War in 1924. In 1930, he supported Shanxi warlord Yan Xishan in opposing Chiang Kai-shek. In 1933, he became a member of the China Democratic Socialist Party. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, he went to Chongqing. After the end of the Chinese Civil War, he stayed on the mainland and died in Beijing at the age of 90. He was the younger brother of Tang Hualong.
Though a close associate of Duan Qirui, Shanxi's military governor, Yan Xishan, did not join Duan's Anhui clique. He kept his province neutral from the various civil wars the nation was facing, although he would fight troops from other cliques if they encroached the provincial boundaries. In 1927, faced with the overwhelming forces of the National Revolutionary Army, the Fengtian clique issued an ultimatum to Yan to join their side. Yan joined the NRA instead and drove Fengtian armies from Beijing. As a reward, the Kuomintang allowed the Shanxi clique to expand all the way to the sea at Hebei, Shandong. Displeased with the dictatorship of Chiang Kai-shek, the Shanxi clique together with several other cliques launched the Central Plains War but was defeated. The clique was significantly weakened by the Japanese invasion which occupied most of their base province. After the war, Yan was unable to defend his province which fell to the Communists in 1949.
After the end of World War II, the conflict between the Communists and the Kuomintang resumed the intensity that it had had before the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Under the direction of Chiang Kai-shek, the commander-in-chief of the second war zone, Yan Xishan, ordered the commander of the 19th Army, Shi Zebo (史泽波), to lead the 19th Army, part of the 61st Army, and other units, totaling more than 17,000 to invade the Communist base in the Shangdang (上党) region of southeastern Shanxi in the mid August, 1945. Three Nationalist divisions were stationed in the largest city of the region, Changzhi, while the rest were stationed in the following cities/towns: Xiangyuan (襄垣), Changzi (长子), Tunliu (屯留), Lucheng, Huguang (壶关), and other counties; and, from these newly established bases, the Nationalists planned to take the entire southeastern Shanxi region from the Communists. The Communists anticipated the Nationalist attack and mobilized 31,000 troops from the Taihang (太行), Taiyue (太岳), and Southern Hebei (冀南) military districts to prepare for the upcoming battles.
When the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out in July 1937, Nie, then sixteen years old, joined the Communist resistance in Shanxi, which was supported by warlord Yan Xishan. She received military training at the National Teachers' College in Taiyuan and joined the Communist Party in 1938. In the 1940s, Nie moved to the Communist base in Yan'an, where she met Kang Sheng and his wife Cao Yi'ou.
The Tongpu railway was built during Yan Xishan's administration of Shanxi Province. Yan initially appealed to the central government of the Republic of China for assistance to build a railway in Shanxi, and after being denied funding in 1928, embarked on his own railway building project. He hired a German surveyor team to plan the line. In 1930, when Yan lost power during the Central Plains War, the railway project temporarily halted. In 1932, Yan regained control of Shanxi and formed the Jinsui (Shanxi–Suiyuan) Army Construction Corp to build the line as a narrow gauge railway, which the German team recommended to save cost. Construction began simultaneously on the North and South Tongpu Lines in May 1933. On August 1, 1935, the Taiyuan to Yuanping section entered into operation. By August 1937, the North Tongpu Line had reached within 8 km of Datong but the fall of the city to the invading Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese War halted construction. In 1939, the Japanese used forced labor to work on the remainder of the line. Guerilla activity limited travel speed on the line to 25–35 km/h. After the end of World War II, Yan regained control of the Shanxi and the Tongpu railway. During the ensuing Chinese Civil War, Communist forces and partisans sabotaged the North Tongpu Line, rendering it unusable until after the conflict. Reconstruction began in November 1949 and the entire line was converted into standard gauge and reopened to traffic in August 1951. In 1957, work began on a bypass between Ningwu and Xuangang through the Duanjialing Tunnel, which at 3,345 m was the second longest railway tunnel in China at the time. The tunnel was completed in 1959. In the early 1980s, the North Tongpu Line underwent electrification to increase coal transport capacity.
After the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out, Wang Xiang resigned his post, and he accompanied Yan Xishan escaped to Shaanxi, and later Wang went to Hong Kong. In 1942 Wang returned to Shanxi, and in April 1943 he was appointed Chief of the Agency for Education of the Shanxi Province, the Wang Jingwei regime. In next June he was promoted to be Governor and Security Commander of Shanxi.
During the Second Sino-Japanese War, he was first assigned as the deputy division commander of the 115th division of the Eighth Route Army, with the commander being Lin Biao, and in the late 1930s he was given a field command close to Yan Xishan's Shanxi stronghold.
In late 1936 the Kuomintang warlord governing Bo's home province of Shanxi, Yan Xishan, began to fear that the Japanese Empire was planning to invade China and formed a "united front" with the Communists to resist the Japanese in Shanxi. Yan then began attracting Shanxi natives across China to return and work for his government in various patriotic organizations. Yan arranged for Guo Yingyi, one of Bo's former classmates and a former Communist then working for Yan, to travel to Beijing and secure Bo's cooperation. Guo succeeded in persuading Bo to sign an anti-Communist confession to secure his release (with the tacit support of the Communist Party) and Bo returned to Shanxi to work with Yan Xishan in October 1936.
The nationalists begun their push on October 14, 1945. However, majority of the officers and soldiers of the Newly Organized 8th Army, the most capable fighting unit of the nationalist force and thus tasked to bear the brunt of the fighting, were extremely resentful to Chiang Kai-shek and his nationalist regime. The reason was that the troops originally belonged to Guominjun clique of warlords, but later defected to Chiang Kai-shek. Unlike many warlords who collaborated with the Japanese invaders during the Second Sino-Japanese War and then rejoined the nationalist regime after World War II, these troops remained firmly on the Chinese side throughout the conflict. Furthermore, unlike other warlords who stayed on the Chinese side during the conflict but were not under the direct control of Chiang Kai-shek and remained independent instead, such as the case of Yan Xishan, Ma clique, New Guangxi Clique, and Sichuan clique, these troops were directly under control of Chiang Kai-shek and his regime, just like Chiang's own troops.
The internal power struggle and the lack of cooperation contributed to the nationalist defeat at least as much as the enemy pressure if not greater. Yan Xishan, the nationalist commander-in-chief and the warlord of Shanxi was not willing to sacrifice his own troops to help Fu Zuoyi, the nationalist commander and warlord who controlled Hebei. The personal relationship between the two nationalist commanders were strained due to history: prior to the Second Sino-Japanese War, Fu Zuoyi was originally a trusted officer of Yan Xishan but later defected from Yan's clique in the wars among warlords, and eventually became a rival of Yan. Although both came under Chiang Kai-shek's nationalist government's rule after World War II, the distrust among the two still ran deep. As a more capable commander, Fu Zuoyi was not happy to see the overall command was given to Yan Xishan, who, in turn, was not willing to make a full commitment to fight communists outside his own turf for somebody else, especially somebody who betrayed him before, so the cooperation between the two was half-hearted at best. The result was that, although an impressive force totaling more than 100,000 with technical superiority was deployed, they were not concentrated in offensives against communist forces and thus was not effective at all in thwarting the enemy's advance, which inevitably led to the loss of more than a third of troops deployed in the campaign, as well as territories, and initiatives on the battlefield.
The Railway from Datong to Pukou (Tong Pu Railway), opened in 1933, which was funded by the Japanese and controlled by the Shanxi warlord, Yan Xishan, and which connected the Shijiazhuang–Taiyuan Railway at Taiyuan, had to be built to metre gauge as well. The Datong–Pukou Railway used rolling stock built by Japanese companies, even withdrawn old "Japanese National Railways" or "Imperial Taiwan Railway" stock (which is based on the gauge Liu Mingchuan's railway' in Qing dynasty). When the Japanese invaded the Shanxi and Hebei provinces during the Sino-Japanese War, these two railways were converted to standard gauge.
During the Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945, the Republican government dismantled a number of railways to slow the Japanese advance and added 1,900 km of railways, mostly in the interior of China after coastal regions were occupied. Among the completed lines were the Longhai Railway (Lingbao-Tongguan and Xi'an-Baoji sections), Zhejiang-Jiangxi Railway (Hangzhou-Pingxiang section) and the Guangdong-Hankou Railway (Zhuzhou-Shaoguan section). The Shanxi warlord Yan Xishan built the narrow gauge Datong-Puzhou Railway across Shanxi Province. The Japanese occupiers, using forced labor, built 5,700 km of railway in Manchuria and Rehe Province and 900 km of railway in China Proper.
After the foundation of the Republic of China, in 1913 Zhengzhou changed from being a territory directly administered from the capital, (直隶州zhílìzhōu), to Zhengzhou County (郑州县). In 1920 the Henan Provincial Legislature proposed the set-up of a trading port in the city then in February 1923 the Jinguan Railway came to a halt during the communist led "27 Major Strike" (二七大罢工), which originated in Zhengzhou but was quickly resolved. In March the same year, the State Affairs Conference of the Beiyang Government officially approved the creation of a trading port at Zhengzhou and established a government commercial office to run it. By 1927, the newly founded "Travel Magazine" (旅行杂志) published in Shanghai, was already describing Zhengzhou as a 'major northern Chinese metropolis'. Zhengzhou was elevated to city status by warlord Feng Yuxiang in 1928, then in 1931, following the military confrontation between Chiang Kai-shek, Yan Xishan and Feng during the Central Plains War, Zhengzhou once more became a county. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, on June 9, 1938, in order to stop the westward advance of the Japanese Army along the Longhai Railway, Nationalist KMT troops blew up the dikes along the south bank of the Yellow River at Huayuankou (花园口) causing the 1938 Yellow River flood. The Nationalist Government set up an official Zhengzhou Appeasement Office (郑州绥靖公署) in January 1946 at the Luzu Temple (吕祖庙) then in October 1948 the People's Liberation Army attacked and occupied the city, taking over the Appeasement Office and thereby taking control from the Nationalists.
In August 1937, Lin was named commander-in-chief of the 115th Division of the Communist 8th Route Army and ordered to aid Yan Xishan's forces in repelling the Japanese invasion of Shanxi. In this capacity, Lin orchestrated the ambush at Pingxingguan in September 1937, which was one of the few battlefield successes for the Chinese in the early period of the Second Sino-Japanese War (known in China as the "War of Resistance Against Japan").