Biography in English

Ch'en Yi 陳儀 Ch'en Yi (1883 - 18 June 1950), governor of Fukien (1934-41) and of Chekiang (1948-49) who, as first Chinese government administrator in Taiwan after 1945, launched a brutal suppression campaign against the Taiwanese when an island-wide revolt against his administration threatened to break out. He was executed as a Communist conspirator for acting as an intermediary in a Communist attempt to effect the surrender of Shanghai.

Shaohsing hsien, Chekiang, was the native place of Ch'en Yi. Throughout the Ch'ing period his district had been noted as a major source of legal secretaries, men who were employed personally by government officials of all ranks and in all parts of China. Ch'en Yi was one of the few men of the Shaohsing district to choose a military career. He studied in Japan, and he was graduated from the fifth class of the Shikan Gakko [military academy] in 1907. During his residence in Japan, he married a Japanese woman and became known as a Japanophile. After graduation he immediately returned to China, where he joined the army in his native Chekiang.

When the 1911 revolution broke out, Ch'en Yi was quick to join the revolutionary movement. When Chekiang province declared its independence and organized a provisional government, Ch'en joined it in the capacity of counselor to the tutuh [military governor] and chief of the military affairs branch of the government. After the republic was established in 1912, he returned to active service in the army. By the early 1920's Ch'en Yi had risen to command one of the divisions of the Chekiang provincial army.

In 1924 Sun Ch'uan-fang (q.v.) entered Chekiang by way of Fukien and ousted the Chekiang governor, Lu Yung-hsiang. Sun's victory was precipitated by the defection of one regiment of the Chekiang army stationed on the Chekiang-Fukien border; and this regiment belonged to Ch'en Yi's division. Ch'en and Hsia Ch'ao, then the senior military figure in Chekiang, had plotted the overthrow of Lu Yung-hsiang. When Sun Ch'uan-fang assumed complete control of Chekiang, he rewarded Hsia with the governorship of the province. Pursuing his victory further into Kiangsu, with the rich metropolis of Shanghai as the principal objective, Sun Ch'uan-fang in 1925 went to war with the Fengtien army. Ch'en Yi was placed in command of one of the armies making up the expedition. Sun won decisively; by October 1925, the Fengtien army and its ally, the Shantung army, had been driven far north. On the pretext that Hsuchow was an important strategic center, Sun Ch'uan-fang appointed Ch'en Yi garrison commander of that city, and Ch'en moved his army from Chekiang to Hsuchow in late 1925 to assume that post. Of course, Sun's basic objective was to separate the various Chekiang provincial units to prevent their joining forces against him.

At this juncture an incident occurred which was to have an indirect bearing on Ch'en Yi's ultimate end. Earlier in 1925 a young Chekiang fellow-provincial who had aspirations toward a military career, T'ang En-po (q.v.), after great difficulty had succeeded in obtaining the necessary recommendation from a Chinese military authority to enable him to apply for admission to the 18th class of the Shikan Gakko. When making plans for the trip, for which he was not adequately prepared financially, T'ang En-po applied to Ch'en Yi, whom he did not know, for assistance. To T'ang's surprise, Ch'en Yi acceded to the request without hesitation, enabling T'ang to enter the academy. T'ang was profuse in his expression of gratitude to his benefactor. However, Ch'en Yi was finally to pay with his life for a misguided act which he perpetrated on the basis of this early link. Meanwhile, as Sun Ch'uan-fang consolidated his position and made himself the supreme commander of the five provinces of Kiangsu, Chekiang, Anhwei, Kiangsi and Fukien, the Kuomintang government at Canton made ready to launch its Northern Expedition in 1926. The forces advanced with such speed that by the end of 1926 Sun Ch'uan-fang was unable to avoid a direct clash with the revolutionaries. His subordinate Chekiang generals showed signs of unrest, and defections appeared likely. Of the Chekiang leaders, Chou Feng-ch'i was the first to go over to the revolutionary camp, and he then took his army in Anhwei back to west Chekiang to fight against Sun Ch'uan-fang. Hsia Ch'ao, the Chekiang governor, tried to become the chief power in the province under the pretense of declaring it independent. He therefore made overtures to Ch'en Yi urging joint action against Sun Ch'uan-fang and promised to reward Ch'en with the governorship, which he planned to vacate for a higher position. Ch'en Yi quietly informed Sun Ch'uan-fang of Hsia's scheme, and Sun forestalled the revolt. To appease the Chekiang people, who were clamoring forgovernment bya fellow-provincial, and to reward Ch'en Yi for his timely information, Sun Ch'uan-fang made Ch'en governor of Chekiang. Ch'en assumed this post in October 1926, and in December he moved his army from Hsuchow to Hangchow.

The forces of the National Revolutionary Army, however, were making rapid progress. As they approached the Chekiang provincial capital, Ch'en Yi recognized that it was time to switch alliances. He established contact with Chiang Kai-shek, who on 17 December 1926 appointed Ch'en commander of the Nineteenth Army of the Nationalist forces. Ch'en Yi, however, made no declaration, since he intended to create an autonomous administration for Chekiang and to await further developments. Sun Ch'uan-fang then took quick action and sent his forces to Hangchow, where they disarmed part of Ch'en Yi's army. Ch'en's remaining troops fled to the Shao-hsing area. Ch'en Yi himself was taken to Nanking, but later was given his freedom and went to Shanghai. On 30 December 1926, the portion of Ch'en Yi's first Chekiang division that had escaped from Sun Ch'uan-fang was formally reorganized as the Nineteenth Army of the Nationalist forces at Shao-hsing. Although Ch'en Yi was not with his men, he nevertheless was listed as the commander in the announcement of the formation of this new unit.

The Northern Expedition forces continued to make such rapid advances that Sun Ch'uanfang realized that he could no longer hold Chekiang. He then decided that it would be more realistic to attempt a stand farther north in Kiangsu. The Nationalists captured Hangchow on 19 February 1927. On 1 March a provisional political council for Chekiang province was formed, with Chang Jen-chieh (q.v.) as chairman.

Ch'en Yi was living quietly in Shanghai when the revolutionary forces captured Nanking in March 1927 and established a new National Government there a month later. His adeptness at adjusting to new situations again came into play, and he offered his services to Chiang Kaishek, using Ko Ching-en as intermediary. Ko had been Ch'en Yi's colleague at the military academy in Japan, was close to Chiang Kaishek, and had acted as intermediary in the earlier contacts between Chiang and Ch'en. In 1929 Ch'en Yi prepared to begin a new career in the government administration. He was first appointed director of the arsenals bureau of the ministry of war at Nanking. Later he was promoted to administrative vice minister of war. In 1931 he was promoted to political vice minister of war.

Toward the end of 1933, Ch'en Ming-shu and Li Chi-shen (qq.v.), with the support of the Nineteenth Route Army, launched the Fukien revolt. This move against Nanking's authority was short-lived, and it quickly collapsed in early 1934 under heavy military pressure from the National Government. In the campaign suppressing the Fukien revolt, a major role was played by T'ang En-po, who by then had become a divisional commander in the Nationalist army. After the suppression of the Fukien revolt, Ch'en Yi was appointed governor of Fukien province. Ch'en remained in that post for nearly eight years, until after the occupation of Foochow by the Japanese in 1941. His administration of Fukien province was subject to severe criticism, but Ch'en had the confidence of the supreme authority.

One major feature of Ch'en Yi's governorship of Fukien was his feud with the overseas Chinese leader Tan Kah Kee (Ch'en Chia-keng, q.v.), who had come from Fukien. Tan had gained national recognition for his founding and support of Amoy University. He had also made repeated attempts to interest Fukienese living overseas in investing in the economic development of their native province. When Ch'en Yi first came to Fukien as governor, he had high hopes that overseas Chinese capital would be made available to his administration. By that time, however, Tan's business in Singapore had failed, and he was unsuccessful in interesting his friends in programs for the development of Fukien. Ch'en Yi was disappointed, and on one occasion he reportedly made a statement which was highly derogatory to the Fukien residents abroad. He said that the people of Fukien hoped that their kinfolk overseas would help in its development, but that evidently the inhabitants of other provinces which did not have overseas residents to look to were faring much better. This statement greatly annoyed Tan Kah Kee. In 1940 Tan Kah Kee, then chairman of the Overseas Chinese General Association for the Relief of War Refugees in China, led a delegation to visit China on the invitation of the National Government. He devoted the last part of his stay in China to his native province of Fukien. Ch'en Yi was obliged to treat him with deference, but Tan was outspoken and unsparing in his criticism of conditions in the province. He bluntly told Ch'en Yi that reports of maladministration had been substantiated by what he had seen. On his return to Southeast Asia, Tan Kah Kee gave full publicity to the situation in Fukien and launched a movement among Fukienese provincials abroad for the dismissal of Ch'en Yi. A request was sent to Chiang Kaishek, but no action was taken. Tan also appealed to Lin Sen (q.v.), Chairman of the National Government, who came from Fukien, and Lin was stated to have referred the case to Chiang personally. Again, there was no action. Ch'en Yi continued to enjoy the personal confidence of the supreme authority in Chungking, but other factors now intruded to affect his continued governorship of Fukien. By 1941 the Japanese had occupied the entire coastal area of east China from Kiangsu down to Fukien. Since Ch'en Yi's favorable attitude toward Japan was well known, there were fears that the Japanese-sponsored regime of Wang Ching-wei (q.v.) at Nanking might attempt to exploit Ch'en's position. At the same time the exigencies of war also suggested the desirability of appointing an active military officer to the post. In August 1941 the National Government appointed Liu Chien-hsu governor of Fukien, succeeding Ch'en Yi.

Ch'en Yi did not leave Fukien in disgrace. He was promoted to secretary general of the Executive Yuan, then under the direction of its vice president, H. H. K'ung. In the new post, Ch'en Yi again became involved in a series of incidents which did little to endear him to his colleagues. He relinquished the position about a year later.

By that time the outcome of the war had become clear. During the Second World War, the Chinese leaders on the mainland held the recovery of all Chinese territory taken by Japan to be a prime objective of national policy. The restoration of the island of Taiwan to China was defined as an Allied objective at the Cairo Conference, which was held in November 1943. The Chinese government authorities at Chungking began making plans to take over Taiwan, and a training program was established for personnel to be sent to Taiwan at the appropriate time. Ch'en Yi was assigned to be the first official Chinese representative to take over the administration of Taiwan from the Japanese. He was considered the most suitable candidate for that post both because of his experience with things Japanese and because of his long governorship of Fukien, the mainland province closest to Taiwan and the original home of most of the Chinese of that island.

After the Japanese surrender in August 1945, Chinese Nationalist forces took control of Taiwan in the early autumn. The National Government appointed Ch'en Yi officer administering the government, a traditional designation pending the organization of a regular provincial government, and garrison commander. His old friend Ko Ching-en was named secretary general of the island administration. Ch'en Yi arrived at Taipei on 25 October 1945, the date now officially observed as Taiwan's Restoration Day, and was given a rousing reception by the people.

Fifty years under Japanese rule had left the Chinese in Taiwan better educated, more modernized, and more prosperous than most mainland Chinese. But they had resented colonial rule and clearly welcomed the prospect of reunification with their homeland. Initial optimism soon faded, however, with the imposition of a harsh military administration in which the Taiwanese had virtually no voice. On the grounds that the special situation in Taiwan resulting from a half-century of Japanese rule required special treatment, Ch'en Yi was given extraordinary powers. Kuomintang officials, welcomed to Taiwan as liberators, soon were found to be unabashed looters, and were more arrogant and less efficient than their Japanese predecessors. Public dissatisfaction grew rapidly and reached a climax on 28 February 1947, when a huge demonstration took place in Taipei. When the military fired on the demonstrators, killing several, an island-wide revolt threatened to break out. Ch'en Yi launched a brutal suppression campaign in the course of which several thousand Taiwanese were massacred, including virtually all of the small group of leaders with modern education, administrative experience, and political maturity. Faced with a major crisis, Chiang Kai-shek at once dismissed Ch'en Yi and dispatched Pai Ch'ung-hsi (q.v.) to Taiwan in an attempt to pacify the public. A regular provincial government was organized to replace the former special apparatus, and Wei Tao-ming (q.v.) was named governor in April 1947.

Ch'en Yi left Taiwan hastily and went to Shanghai. After a brief period of inactivity, he was ready for a new assignment. In 1948 the governor of Chekiang, Shen Hung-lieh (q.v.), resigned his post because of disagreements with the local Kuomintang leaders. Even the normally cynical political circles in China were surprised in June of that year when Nanking announced the appointment of Ch'en Yi as Chekiang governor.

Ch'en Yi assumed the post of Chekiang provincial governor on 1 July 1948 with his usual aplomb. He immediately gave public notice of his self-confidence by replacing all but ten of the hsien magistrates in the province during his first four months in office. Even Chou Hsiang-hsien, veteran mayor of Hangchow who had served for 20 years under several governors, was replaced. At the same time, Ch'en Yi made numerous new appointments; some of them were politically questionable. A notable case was the new magistrate of Sung-yang appointed in 1948, Chu Keng-sheng. His defection after the Communist crossing of the Yangtze in the spring of 1949 prevented the smooth withdrawal of the Chekiang government from Hangchow.

Meanwhile, in November 1948 the Chinese Communists had captured Hsuchow and Pengp'u on the Tientsin-Pukow railroad. As public unrest spread in Chekiang, Ch'en Yi announced that he would take appropriate measures to protect the province and to spare it from the ravages of military conflict. He also announced that he was not proceeding with the construction of defense works on the southern bank of the Ch'ien-t'ang river so that the funds allotted by the National Government for that purpose could be spent on enterprises which would benefit the people of Chekiang. And when Chiang Kai-shek passed through Hangchow on his way to his native district of Fenghua on 22 January 1949, the day after he had announced his retirement, Ch'en Yi entertained Chiang at a special banquet and stressed that the people of Chekiang desired to be spared the ravages of war.

At this juncture T'ang En-po was entrusted w
th the defense of the Shanghai area against the Communist forces, which were about to launch a concerted drive southward toward Nanking and Shanghai. Aware of the past relationship between T'ang and Ch'en Yi, Communist agents made contact with Ch'en and, through him, offered an invitation to T'ang to surrender his large forces to the People's Liberation Army. T'ang En-po, however, reported the offer to Chiang Kai-shek. On 1 February 1949 Ch'en Yi was dismissed as governor of Chekiang, and on his arrival at Shanghai he was arrested by T'ang En-po. Ch'en Yi was taken to Taiwan later that year. In the early months of 1950, executions of men suspected of being Communist agents were common. In June, Ch'en Yi was executed as a Communist conspirator.

Biography in Chinese

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