Bai Chongxi: Wikis

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Bai Chongxi
白崇禧
1893-1966
Bai Chongxi in uniform

Nickname The Wise Man, Little Zhuge
Place of birth Guilin, Guangxi Province
Place of death Taipei, Taiwan
Allegiance Flag of the Republic of China Republic of China
Years of service 1911-1949
Rank General
Unit New Guangxi Clique
Commands held 7th corps,Minister Of Defense, Central China Pacification director
Battles/wars Northern Expedition, Central Plains War, Second Sino-Japanese War, Chinese Civil War
Awards Order of Blue Sky and White Sun
Other work religious work

Bai Chongxi (traditional Chinese: 白崇禧pinyin: Bái ChóngxǐWade-Giles: Pai Ch'ung-hsi) (18 March 1893 – 1 December 1966), also spelled Pai Chung-hsi, was a Chinese Muslim general in the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China (ROC).[1] He was a warlord with a sphere of influence centred around Guangxi Province, commanding his own troops and governing Guangxi with autonomy, though part of the Republic of China. Although independent from the central government, he was often a close ally of Chiang Kai-Shek in the politics of the Republic of China. This is contrasted with other warlord "allies" like Feng Yuxiang, who were uncooperative.

Contents

Warlord era

Bai Chongxi Born Chongxi Bai was born in Guilin, Guangxi Province and given the courtesy name Jiansheng (健生). He is a descendant of a Persian merchant of the name Baiderluden; the Baidurludens changed their surname to Pai. Bai had been classmates at the Guangxi Military Cadre Training School in Guilin with Huang Shaohong, and Li Zongren. It was a modern-style school, run by Cai E, and its graduates modernized the Guangxi forces.

Bai rose to fame during the warlord era by allying with Huang Shaohong (a fellow deputy commander of the Model Battalion of the Guangxi First Division) and Li Tsung-jen as supporters of the Kuomintang leader Sun Yat-sen. This alliance, called the New Guangxi Clique, proceeded to move against the Guangxi warlord Lu Rongting (陸榮廷) in 1924. The coalition's efforts brought Guangxi Province under ROC jurisdiction, and Pai and Li represented a new generation of Guangxi leaders.

During the Northern Expedition (1926-1928), Bai was the Chief of Staff of the National Revolutionary Army and was credited with many victories over the northern warlords, often using speed, maneuver and surprise to defeat larger enemy forces. He led the Eastern Route Army which conquered Hangzhou and Shanghai in 1927. As garrison commander of Shanghai, Bai also took part in the purge of Communist elements of the National Revolutionary Army on April 4, 1927 and of the labour unions in Shanghai. Bai also commanded the forward units which first entered Beijing and was credited with being the senior commander on site to complete the Northern Expedition. For many of his battlefield exploits during the Northern expedition, he was given the laudatory nickname Xiao Zhuge, literally meaning "little Zhuge Liang," of the Three Kingdoms fame. Zhuge Liang is universally considered by Chinese to be the foremost strategist of all time.

At the end of the Northern Expedition, Chiang Kai-shek began to agitate to get rid of the Guangxi forces. At one time in 1929, Bai had to escape to Vietnam to avoid harm. From 1930 to 1936, Bai was instrumental in the Reconstruction of Guangxi, which became a "model" province with a progressive administration. Guangxi supplied over nine hundred thousand troops toward the war effort against Japan.

Second Sino-Japanese War

Formal hostilities broke out on 7 July 1937 between China and Japan with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident outside of Beijing. On 4 August 1937, Bai rejoined the Central Government at the invitation of Chiang Kai-shek. During the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), he was the Deputy Chief of the General Staff responsible for operations and training. He was the key strategist who convinced Chiang to adopt a "Total War" strategy in which China would trade space for time, adopt guerrilla tactics behind enemy lines, and disrupt enemy supply lines at every opportunity. When the better armed and trained Japanese troops advanced, the Chinese would adopt a scorched earth campaign in the enemy's path to deny them local supply. Bai was also involved in many key campaigns including the first major victory at the Battle of Tai'erzhuang in Shandong Province in the Spring of 1938 when he teamed up with General Li Zongren to defeat a superior enemy. China managed to check and delay the Japanese advance for several months. Subsequently, he was appointed the Commander of the Field Executive Office of the Military Council in Guilin, with responsibility for the 3rd, 4th, 7th and 9th War Zones. In that capacity he oversaw the successful defense of Changsha, capital of Hunan Province. Between 1939 and 1942, the Japanese attacked Changsha three times and were repelled each time. Bai also directed the Battle of South Guangxi and Battle of Kunlun Pass to retake South Guangxi.

Chinese Civil War

Following the Surrender of Japan in 1945, the Chinese Civil War resumed in full-fledged fighting. In the Spring of 1946, the Chinese Communists were active in Manchuria. A crack unit of 100,000 strong under the Communist general Lin Biao occupied a key railroad junction at Sipingjie. Kuomintang forces could not dislodge Lin after several attempts. Chiang Kai-shek then sent Bai to oversee the operation. After some redeployment, the Nationalist forces were able to thoroughly defeat Lin's forces after a two day pitched battle. This was to be the first and only major victory for the Kuomintang in the 1946-1949 stage of the civil war before the fall of mainland China to the Chinese Communists.

In June 1946, Bai was appointed Minister of National Defense. It turned to be a post without power as Chiang began to bypass Bai on major decisions regarding the Chinese Civil War. Chiang would hold daily briefings in his residence without inviting him and began to direct frontline troops personally down to the division level, bypassing the chain of command. The Civil War went poorly for the Kuomintang as Chiang's strategy of holding onto provincial capitals and leaving the countryside to the Communists very quickly caused the downfall of his forces which had a 4:1 numerical superiority at the beginning of the conflict.

Involvement in Taiwan

The riots following the 228 Incident of 28 February 1947 that broke out in Taiwan due to poor governance by the central government appointed officials and the garrison forces caused many casualties of both native Taiwanese and mainland residents. Bai was sent as Chiang Kai-shek's personal representative on a fact finding mission and to help pacify the populace. After a two week tour, including interviews with various segments of the Taiwan population, Bai made sweeping recommendations, including replacement of the governor, and prosecution of his chief of secret police. He also granted amnesty to student violators of peace on the condition that their parents take custody and guarantee subsequent proper behavior. For his forthright actions, native Taiwanese held him in high regard.

Bai had another falling out with Chiang when he supported General Li Zongren, his fellow Guangxi comrade-in-arms, for the vice presidency in the 1948 general election when Li won against Chiang's hand picked candidate, Sun Fo. Chiang then removed Bai from the Defense Minister post and assigned him the responsibility for Central and South China. Bai's forces were the last ones to leave the mainland for Hainan Island and eventually to Taiwan. He and Chiang never reconciled and he lived in semi-retirement until he died of cerebral thrombosis on 1 December 1966 at the age of 73.‎

Grave of Bai Chongxi

Bai is buried in the Muslim Cemetery in Taipei, Taiwan.

Impact

Bai's reputation as a strategist was well known.[2]. Evans Carlson, a United States Army colonel, noted that Bai "was considered by many to be the keenest of Chinese military men." Edgar Snow went even further, calling him "one of the most intelligent and efficient commanders boasted by any army in the world."

Bai is the father of Kenneth Hsien-yung Pai, Chinese author and playwright now living in the United States. Bai and his wife had 10 children, 3 girls and 7 boys. Their names are Patsy, Diana, Daniel, Richard, Alfred, Amy, David, Kenneth, Robert and Charlie.

Of his 10 children, three have since passed on. The remaining are scattered across America and Taiwan

References

  1. ^ Listed General, City of Sydney Library, accessed July 2009
  2. ^ Barbara Tuchman's book Stilwell and American Experience in China
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Simple English

Bai Chongxi (18 March 18931 December 1966), also spelled Pai Chung-hsi, was a Chinese Muslim general in the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China.[1] He was a warlord centred around Guangxi Province, commanding his own troops and governing Guangxi (though part of the Republic of China). He was often an ally of Chiang Kai-Shek in the politics of the Republic of China.

Warlord era

Bai Chongxi Born Omar Chongxi Bai was born in Guilin, Guangxi Province.

References

  1. Listed General, City of Sydney Library, accessed July 2009


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