Biography in English

Tuan Ch'i-jui 段祺瑞 T. Chih-ch'üan 芝泉 H. Cheng-tao lao-jen 正道老人 Tuan Ch'i-jui (6 March 1865-2 November 1936), Peiyang military leader and head of the Anhwei clique. He served at Peking as minister of war (1912-14), premier (April-June 1916; June 1916-May 1917; July-November 1917; March-October 1918), and as provisional chief executive at Peking from November 1924 to April 1926.

The eldest of three brothers, Tuan Ch'i-jui came from a family with a long tradition of military service. His grandfather, Tuan P'ei (d. 1879; T. Yuan-shan), had joined Liu Ming-ch'uan (ECCP, I, 526-28) and other natives of Hofei, Anhwei, in organizing militia bands under the over-all command of Li Hung-chang (ECCP, I, 464-71) to fight the Taipings. Tuan P'ei subsequently rose to the rank of brigade commander in the army of Liu Ming-ch'uan, and beginning in 1872 he was stationed at Such'ien, Kiangsu. That year, Tuan Ch'i-jui, then a boy of seven, went to Such'ien, where he studied under his grandfather's supervision until the latter's death in 1879.

In 1881, at the age of 16, Tuan joined one of his father's cousins at the army camp at Weihaiwei, Shantung. He held a minor military post there until 1884 when he passed the entrance examination for the newly established Peiyang Military Academy (Pei-yang wu-pei hsueh-t'ang), becoming a member of its first class. After three years of training in modern military methods under foreign instructors, he was graduated at the top of his class in 1887 and was assigned to supervise repairs in the gun batteries at Port Arthur. Late in 1888 Tuan was one of the five graduates of the Peiyang Military Academy selected by Li Hung-chang for military study abroad. Tuan arrived in Germany in the spring of 1889, studied military science in Berlin, and later received practical training in artillery engineering at the Krupp armament works. Upon his return to China in the autumn of 1890, he was placed in charge of the Peiyang Arsenal (Pei-yang chun-hsiehchü). In 1891-94 he served as an instructor at the military school attached to the army base at Weihaiwei.

Late in 1895 Tuan Ch'i-jui was transferred to the army camp at Hsiaochan, near Tientsin, where Yuan Shih-k'ai had just begun to organize the Newly Created Army. As commander of the army's artillery battalion and director of the artillery training school attached to the base, Tuan made important contributions to the building up of the military machine that became known as the Peiyang Army. When Yuan Shih-k'ai was transferred to Shantung late in 1899 as acting governor, Tuan and the army (which had become the Right Division of the Guards Army) went with him to garrison the provincial capital of Tsinan. Two years later, when Yuan was moved to Chihli (Hopei) as governor general, he took Tuan with him and had him promoted to the civil rank of expectant prefect. In July 1902, again on Yuan's recommendation, Tuan was promoted to expectant tao-t'ai in recognition of his part in restoring calm to southern Chihli, which had been plagued by bands of outlaws.

As one of Yuan Shih-k'ai's chief military aides, Tuan Ch'i-jui played an important role in the Ch'ing government's program to expand and modernize China's military establishment. Yuan carried out an administrative reorganization of the military forces under his command in the summer of 1902 and set up a provincial department of military administration (chüncheng-ssu), placing Tuan at the head of its staff section in charge of military planning. In December 1903 the Ch'ing government followed Yuan's lead and established a commission for army reorganization, with Yuan as associate director and Tuan as head of the military command department (chün-ling-ssu) in charge of military planning, cartography, and military stores. Yuan was ordered to increase the number of Peiyang Army divisions, and Tuan became commander of a number of these new units as they were formed. Tuan took command of the 3rd Division when it was activated in June 1904; he was transferred to the 4th Division in February 1905; and he received command of the 6th Division in September 1905. Early in 1906, while briefly serving again as commander of the 3rd Division, Tuan was appointed supervisor of the Peiyang Military Academy, and for the next three years he devoted himself to military education. Although he was appointed brigade general at Tingchouchen, Fukien, in March 1906, he remained in Chihli and became director of the staff officers college (chun-kuanhsueh-t'ang) attached to Yuan Shih-k'ai's camp at Paoting. Late in 1909 Tuan resumed command of the 6th Division, and at the end of December 1910 he became acting commander in chief of the Chiangpei region in Kiangsu. After the republican revolution began with the Wuchang revolt of 1911, he was transferred to Peking. On 27 October, Yuan Shih-k'ai replaced the Manchu Yin-ch'ang as high commissioner of the imperial forces in Hupeh, and Tuan became commander of the Second Army. After Yuan had established control over the government at Peking, he appointed Tuan acting governor general of Hupeh and Hunan on 17 November, with full military authority in the Wuhan area. Tuan also replaced Feng Kuo-chang (q.v.) as commander of the First Army.

During the final years of the Ch'ing empire Tuan Ch'i-jui, like most senior Peiyang military officers, appears to have been loyal primarily to Yuan Shih-k'ai rather than to the Ch'ing dynasty. He thus was prepared to give his full support to Yuan as the provisional president of the republican government. On 20 March 1912 Tuan became minister of war at Peking, a post he held, with only brief interruptions, through a succession of cabinets in the next three years. From May to July 1913 he also served as acting premier. He went to Hankow in December 1913 to demand that the reluctant Li Yuan-hung (q.v.) go to Peking and assume office as vice president. After Li complied, Tuan remained in Hupeh for a time as military governor and brought the province under the complete domination of Peiyang troops. In February-March 1914 Tuan served as military governor of Honan so that he could assume direction of military operations against the bands of outlaws led by Pai-lang [white wolf] which were causing widespread unrest in central China.

By 1914 Tuan Ch'i-jui had become the most powerful of Yuan Shih-k'ai's lieutenants. Because he had assumed such functions as the training and transfer of troops and the selection and promotion of officers, many of the younger officers in the Peiyang Army regarded him, rather than Yuan, as their principal patron. In the spring of 1914 Yuan took steps to regain many of the powers which, because of the pressure of government affairs, he had delegated to Tuan. Early in May, Yuan reorganized the top military command, transferring a number of powers and responsibilities from the ministry of war to a new generalissimo's office under his personal control. Tuan, chagrined by this curtailment of his authority, began to absent himself from the war ministry, leaving much of his work to his vice minister, Hsu Shu-cheng (q.v.). He later decided to oppose Yuan's plan to become monarch and resigned from office on 31 May 1915.

Yuan Shih-k'ai's monarchical campaign went badly, and in March 1916 he was obliged to turn to Tuan Ch'i-jui for help in salvaging his regime. Tuan agreed to serve as chief of general staff on the understanding that Yuan would restore the republican form of government. On 22 April, after Yuan had indicated that he would relinquish his powers, Tuan also consented to act as premier. The next day, Tuan announced his new cabinet, in which he held the key post of minister of war. However, as Yuan continued to circumvent Tuan's demands that full military authority be restored to the ministry of war, it became apparent to Tuan that Yuan had no intention of yielding any real authority to him. There followed a silent struggle for power between the two men that ended only with Yuan's death in June 1916.

Although Li Yuan-hung succeeded Yuan Shih-k'ai as president at Peking, much of the power held by Yuan passed into the hands of Tuan Ch'i-jui, who acted quickly to change the governmental system so that the cabinet, with himself as premier, would be the center of executive authority. On 10 June 1916, he dissolved the generalissimo's office and transferred its powers to the ministry of war, and by the end of the month he had ordered the repeal of many laws made during Yuan's presidency. Although he had little understanding of parliamentary government, he reluctantly yielded to southern political and military leaders and agreed to abolish Yuan's constitutional compact of 1914, to order the restoration of the provisional constitution of 1912, and to call for a meeting of the old National Assembly that had been dissolved by Yuan Shih-k'ai in January 1914.

Tuan Ch'i-jui was confirmed as premier by the president and the reconvened National Assembly on 1 August 1916. Before long, his open impatience with the legal restraints on his power aroused opposition from Li Yuan-hung, who had never been on good terms with him, and from factions within the National Assembly. To control this opposition, Tuan relied on the Peiyang military clique. At conferences of provincial representatives called by Chang Hsün (q.v.) at Hsuchow in 1916 and 1917, the leading Peiyang military governors, headed by Ni Ssu-ch'ung, affirmed their support of Tuan's regime. In the spring of 191 7 the Peking government's attention focused on the question of China's relations with Germany. In February 1917 the United States began to press the Peking government to enter the First World War on the side of the Allies ; and Japan, which previously had opposed China's participation in the war, changed its position and urged Peking to declare war on Germany. Tuan moved quickly to sever diplomatic ties with Germany, a measure which was approved by the National Assembly on 14 March 1917. Tuan then worked to achieve a formal declaration of war, but on this question opinion within the National Assembly and even within the Peiyang clique was divided. On 25 April, Tuan summoned the military governors to Peking for a conference and succeeded in obtaining their unanimous agreement to a declaration of war. Having secured this backing, Tuan exerted heavy pressure on the National Assembly to pass the war participation bill. The assembly members, incensed by their harassment by "citizens groups" organized by Tuan's supporters and further angered by the recently disclosed loan agreements that Tuan was negotiating with the Japanese, demanded Tuan's resignation as their price for passing the bill. Because Tuan apparently was no longer in control of the political situation at Peking, Li Yuan-hung took advantage of the situation to dismiss Tuan from the premiership on 23 May.

After denouncing Li Yuan-hung's action as illegal, Tuan Ch'i-jui withdrew to Tientsin, where he and his followers began to organize military support for a plan to drive Li Yuan-hung from office and to take control of the Peking government. At Tuan's suggestion, Ni Ssu-ch'ung and several other northern governors declared their provinces independent and prepared their troops for an assault on the capital. Although Tuan remained silent on the question, his followers, to gain the military backing of the monarchist Chang Hsün, feigned agreement with Chang's demands that the Manchu emperor be restored to the throne. But after Chang Hsün arrived in Peking and announced the restoration of the emperor on 14 June, Tuan publicly denounced this move. He then declared himself commander in chief of an army which included the troops of Ts'ao K'un (q.v.), the 16th Mixed Brigade of Feng Yü-siang (q.v.), and the 8th Division of Li Ch'ang-t'ai. This army quickly routed Chang Hsün's forces, and on 14 July Tuan entered Peking in triumph. He promptly announced the end of the restoration and ordered the arrest of its leaders. He also assumed office once again as premier and minister of war. On 1 7 July he announced the composition of his new cabinet, which, in addition to his supporters, included such representatives of the so-called research clique as Liang Ch'i-ch'ao and T'ang Hua-lung (qq.v.). By this time, Li Yuan-hung had resigned under strong pressure from Tuan's followers, turning the presidency over to Feng Kuo-chang.

Because he no longer was hampered by the opposition of Li Yuan-hung and the National Assembly, Tuan Ch'i-jui had little difficulty in pushing through a declaration of war on Germany, which was announced on 14 August 1917. Regarding domestic matters, however, his regime faced complex problems. When a new National Assembly, dominated by his supporters, was convened at Peking, dissident leaders in south China undertook the so-called constitution protection movement in opposition to Tuan's government and organized a military government at Canton headed by Sun Yat-sen, Lu Jung-t'ing, and T'ang Chi-yao. Tuan and several other Peiyang leaders favored the use of military force to eliminate this opposition and to unify China. In the summer of 1917 he had replaced T'an Yen-k'ai (q.v.) as military governor of Hunan with one of his own trusted subordinates, Fu Liang-tso, and had transferred additional Peiyang military units to Hunan in preparation for an invasion of Kwangsi and Kwangtung.

Opposition to Tuan's policy of military unification came from members of the Peiyang clique as well as from the southern leaders. Feng Kuo-chang and his supporters in the Yangtze provinces favored peaceful unification. Feng's opposition was caused, in part, by his rivalry with Tuan for leadership of the Peiyang military faction. This power struggle led to the formation within the Peiyang faction of rival groups which became known as the Chihli clique (led by Feng Kuo-chang) and the Anhwei clique (led by Tuan Ch'i-jui). In the autumn of 1917 Tuan's efforts to subjugate Hunan and Szechwan met with failure, and Feng Kuochang's supporters circulated telegrams calling for a peaceful settlement of the civil strife in south China. Tuan responded by resigning from office and retiring to his stronghold in Tientsin. While Feng Kuo-chang and Tuan's successor as premier, Wang Shih-chen (q.v.), sought to implement a policy of peaceful negotiation with the southern leaders, Tuan's supporters gathered about him to plan his return to power. Under the direction of Hsu Shu-cheng, a conference of military leaders was called at Tientsin on 3 December 1917. Three days later, Ni Ssuch'ung, Chang Tso-lin (q.v.), and other military chiefs presented Feng Kuo-chang with a joint demand that he declare a punitive war on the southwestern provinces. This display of Tuan's strength forced Feng to yield ground. On 18 December, he appointed Tuan commander of China's forces participating in the European war. Tuan used this position to exert increasing pressure on Feng to reverse his policy of conciliation, forcing him to resume the war with the south and to send reinforcements under Ts'ao K'un and Chang Huai-chih into Hupeh and Hunan. Toward the end of February 1918, Tuan's influence was augmented when Chang Tso-lin agreed to loan Hsu Shu-cheng some Fengtien forces. On 19 March a telegram signed by a majority of the Peiyang generals, including some 18 military governors, demanded that Feng Kuo-chang reappoint Tuan premier. Feng had no alternative to compliance, and Tuan assumed office on 23 March. Throughout his fourth and final term as premier (March-October 1918) Tuan dominated the government at Peking through two powerful new organs. The first of these was the war participation bureau (tu-pan ts'an-chan shih-wu ch'u). Its purpose was the organization and training of a new military force, ostensibly to serve in Europe but actually to carry out the military unification of China under Tuan's direction. The second organization, the Anfu Club, was mainly political in character. It came into being on 7 March 1918 through the efforts of Hsu Shu-cheng and Wang I-t'ang (q.v.), and its aims were to influence the election of the new National Assembly in June and thereafter to manipulate the new body in favor of Tuan's policies.

The operations of the war participation bureau
and the Anfu Club reflected the close ties between Tuan's regime and Japanese interests. In 1917-18 Tuan's government concluded a number of agreements, known as the Nishihara loans (see Ts'ao Ju-lin), by which Japan obtained vast railroad, mining, and other concessions in China. Although most of the loan funds were earmarked for economic development, much money was spent to pay for Tuan's military campaigns against the southern provinces and to finance the political machinations of the Anfu Club. Tuan also used a share of the Japanese loan money to build up a new army. Under the direction of the war participation bureau, the Chinese government signed secret mutual military assistance agreements with Japan (25 March and 16 May) by which the Japanese agreed to finance, train, and equip a new Chinese military force, the War Participation Army (Ts'an-chan-chün), in return for such concessions as the right to station Japanese troops in Manchuria and Mongolia. Through these and other agreements, Japan's influence in China reached a new peak.

On 10 October 1918 Tuan Ch'i-jui's foremost rival, Feng Kuo-chang, turned over the presidency to Hsu Shih-ch'ang (q.v.) and retired from public life. That same day, as a concession to popular sentiment, Tuan also resigned. His resignation, however, in no way diminished his personal power; and through his control of the war participation bureau and the Anfu Club he was able to dominate the Peking government for almost two years. On 28 September, he had secured an additional loan from Japan to finance China's participation in the First World War, and he continued to enlarge the War Participation Army after the war ended. During the peace conference of northern and southern delegates at Shanghai early in 1919, the southern delegates demanded the disbandment of the War Participation Army and the dissolution of the military agreements with Japan. To avoid criticism on these points, the Peking government on 24 June reorganized the war participation bureau as the frontier defense bureau (tu-pan pien-fang shih-wu ch'u), with Tuan Ch'i-jui as director and redesignated the War Participation Army as the Northwest Frontier Defense Army (Hsi-pei pien-fang chun), with Hsu Shu-cheng as commander in chief. With continued Japanese assistance, the Northwest Frontier Defense Army became a formidable military machine which aroused the apprehension of some Peiyang generals as well as the military leaders in the southwestern provinces of China. The Peking regime soon became the object of growing public disfavor. The high-handed conduct of the Anfu Club earned it and the National Assembly it controlled an unsavory reputation. The prominent role of Japanese officers in the training of the Chinese army caused student agitation, as did the vast concessions granted Japan in return for the Nishihara loans. Reports from the Paris Peace Conference to the effect that Tuan's government had secretly agreed to transfer German rights in Shantung to Japan touched off a burst of indignation which resulted in the student demonstrations of May 1919. More significant for Tuan's power position, however, were signs of disaffection among the northern militarists, in particular, Ts'ao K'un and his redoubtable subordinate Wu P'ei-fu (q.v.). Wu, who nursed a grievance against Tuan, became increasingly critical of Tuan's regime, denouncing its policy of military unification and finding fault with such activities as the secret loan agreements with Japan. At the same time, the rapid expansion of Hsu Shu-cheng's power in Outer Mongolia challenged the interests of Hsu's former ally Chang Tso-lin, thus creating further antagonism to Tuan's regime. By July 1920 Tuan Ch'i-jui's enemies were ready to move against him. The Chihli clique, led by Ts'ao K'un, had made an agreement with the Fengtien faction of Chang Tso-lin, and Wu P'ei-fu had begun moving northward toward Peking. To counter the impending attack, Tuan Ch'i-jui on 6 July announced the formation of the National Pacification Army (Tingkuo-chun), composed of three divisions of the Northwest Frontier Defense Army, one of Hsu Shu-cheng's brigades, and the 15th Peiyang Division. On 14 July, these troops clashed with Chihli forces, thus beginning the Chihli- Anhwei war. With the aid of units dispatched by Chang Tso-lin from Fengtien province, the Chihli forces defeated Tuan's army in a number of clashes south of Peking. On 19 July, Hsu Shih-ch'ang announced the end of the five-day conflict, and on 28 July he accepted Tuan's resignation from the frontier defense bureau, which then was abolished. The following month brought the dissolution of the Northwest Frontier Defense Army and the Anfu Club. The Chihli-Anhwei war marked the end of Tuan Ch'i-jui's hegemony in north China. As effective control of the Peking government passed to his adversaries, Tuan withdrew to Tientsin, where he bided his time in retirement for the next four years. It was not until the autumn of 1924 that he reentered political life. After the defeat of Wu P'ei-fu and the removal of Ts'ao K'un from the presidency, the victorious Feng Yu-hsiang and Chang Tso-lin looked about for another man to head the Peking government. Tuan, as senior member of the Peiyang militarists, still commanded considerable prestige but had little military strength of his own. Thus he was acceptable to Feng, Chang, and the powerful military chiefs in the Yangtze provinces. On 24 November he became provisional chief executive (lin-shih tsung chihcheng) of the Peking government. The military leaders in Peking gave careful consideration to the type of government which would replace the discredited administration of Ts'ao K'un. As a gesture of conciliation to the Kuomintang, Tuan Ch'i-jui joined Feng Yü-hsiang and Chang Tso-lin in inviting Sun Yat-sen to Peking for discussion about governmental organization. Sun called for a national convention to determine the future government of China; and, in apparent agreement with Sun's ideas, Tuan announced that within a month he intended to convene a preliminary "aftermath conference" (shan-hou hui-i), to be followed two months later by a national congress of people's representatives. However, by the time Sun Yat-sen reached Tientsin early in December, Tuan had promulgated the articles of his provisional government. It soon became clear that Tuan had no intention of allowing Sun or the Kuomintang to interfere in the organization or workings of the new regime. Negotiations between Tuan and Sun about the composition of the aftermath conference quickly broke down. Despite strong protests from Sun and his colleagues, Tuan proceeded to hold the conference, beginning on 1 February 1925, without the formal participation of the Kuomintang. In subsequent meetings the conference adopted regulations providing for the organization of a national assembly of people's representatives. During the spring and summer of 1925 Tuan's regime went through the motions of preparing for a new National Assembly, providing for a committee to draft a new constitution, and fixing the dates for the election of representatives to the assembly. However, these provisions apparently were no more than token gestures to appease public opinion. Beginning in the autumn of 1925, the struggle for power between Feng YiA-hsiang and Chang Tso-lin made Tuan's position insecure. Because he found it impossible to placate both of them at the same time, Tuan Ch'i-jui sought to maintain his position by siding with whoever happened to have the upper hand at a given moment. But by April 1926, Tuan had lost the support of the victorious Chang Tso-lin, and after resigning his position on 20 April, he hastily left the capital for the safety of the Japanese concession in Tientsin. Thereafter, he devoted himself to the study of Buddhism and to giving financial encouragement to poor but promising students. After the Japanese seizure of Manchuria in 1931, many once-prominent Chinese were urged to participate in a Japanese-sponsored puppet government in north China. Although he had followed a pro-Japanese policy as premier, Tuan now resisted all Japanese attempts to win his support. He left Tientsin in January 1933 and moved to Shanghai, where, on 2 November 1936, he died of gastric ulcers.

Tuan Ch'i-jui had two younger brothers, Tuan Ch'i-fu (1873-1921), and Tuan Ch'i-hsun (1874-1927). The latter was a graduate of the Shikan Gakko in Japan who served as director of military training under Hsü Shih-ch'ang when Hsü was governor general in Manchuria under the Ch'ing dynasty. Tuan Ch'i-jui married his first wife, née Wu, in 1886; a year after her death in 1900 he married a member of the Chang family. Two sons lived to maturity, Tuan Hung-yeh (b. 1887) and Tuan Hung-fan (b. 1918).

Biography in Chinese



























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