Nie Rongzhen

Name in Chinese
Name in Wade-Giles
Nieh Jung-chen
Related People

Biography in English

Nieh Jung-chen (1899-), marshal of the People's Republic of China. After serving as commander of the Shansi-Chahar-Hopei military district during the Sino-Japanese war, he became acting chief of staff (1950) and vice chairman (1954) of the People's Revolutionary Military Council. He was made chairman of the Scientific Planning Commission in 1957 and director of the Scientific-Technological Commission in 1958. Little is known about Nieh Jung-chen's family background or early life except that he was born into a well-to-do farming family in Chiangching, Szechwan, and that he participated in the May Fourth Movement of 1919 while a student at a Chungking middle school. After graduation in 1919, he became interested in the work-study movement {see Li Shih-tseng), and in 1920 he went to France as a member of a work-study group that also included Teng Hsiao-p'ing (q.v.). Nieh attended school in Grenoble for a year and then went to Charleroi, Belgium, to enroll at the Universite de Travail, a tuitionfree institution sponsored by the Belgian Socialist party. After studying chemical engineering for two years, Nieh returned to Paris in 1923 to work as an engineer at the Schneider- Creusot arms factory and the Renault automobile plant. He joined the Chinese Socialist Youth Corps in the winter of 1921 and became a regular member of the Chinese Communist party's newly established Paris branch in 1922. In 1924 Nieh went to Moscow, where he studied at the Communist University for Toilers of the East and the Red Army Academy.

Nieh Jung-chen returned to China in the summer of 1925 to serve under Chou En-lai (q.v.) as general secretary and instructor in the political department of the Whampoa Military Academy. In 1926, the year that the Northern Expedition was launched, he was a special representative of the Chinese Communist party on the military committee of the National Revolutionary Army. In the early months of 1927 he served under Chou En-lai as a labor organizer in Shanghai. After the Kuomintang- Communist alliance came to an end in 1927, he participated in the Nanchang uprising of 1 August {see Ho Lung; Yeh T'ing) as a political commissar in Yeh T'ing's 24th Division, and he took part in the Canton Commune {see Chang T'ai-lei) that December. With the suppression of the Canton Commune on 14 December, he fled to Hong Kong.

Little is known about Nieh Jung-chen's activities in 1928-29, but some reports indicate that he went to the Soviet Union. In any event, he served on the Hopei military committee of the Chinese Communist party in 1930, and he apparently worked in Shanghai with Chou En-lai in the early months of 1931. He later moved to the central soviet area in Kiangsi, where he became deputy chief of the general political department of the Chinese Workers and Peasants Red Army. In 1932 he was appointed political commissar of the First Army Group, commanded by Lin Piao (q.v.). He held this post until 1937, when, as part of the Kuomintang-Communist alliance against the Japanese, the Chinese Communist forces in north China were reorganized as the Eight Route Army. There he became deputy commander and political commissar of Lin Piao's 1 15th Division, in which capacity he conducted the battle of P'inghsingkuan in Shansi, the first Chinese victory of the Sino-Japanese war. The Japanese 5th Division of Itagaki Seishiro suffered almost 5,000 casualties and lost much equipment and many weapons. After the battle, Nieh Jungchen was ordered to work behind the Japanese lines in Hopei to develop a base for guerrilla warfare in the Wut'ai mountains.

In November 1937 Nieh Jung-chen was appointed commander of the Shansi-Chahar- Hopei military district by the Chinese Communist government at Yenan. Earlier, the National Government had created a military district in Hopei under Ch'eng Ch'ien and one in Shansi under Yen Hsi-shan (q.v.). Discussions between Nieh and local leaders resulted in plans for the creation of a regional government. Yen Hsi-shan opposed the idea, but Ch'eng Ch'ien approved it, and Nieh made preparations for a conference at Fup'ing. Delegates from 39 hsien of Hopei and Shansi met on 10-14 January 1938 and selected a committee to form a border region government. Nieh Jung-chen and Lü Cheng-ts'ao were the only two Communists on the nine-man committee. By the summer of 1938, the new government, headed by a non- Communist, had won the approval of the National Government and had restored Chinese administration to a considerable portion of north China. At first, it controlled only 36 hsien, but its authority expanded steadily as Nieh used his recruiting and organizing skills to swell the ranks of his military forces with patriotic Chinese from the Peiping-Tientsin area. By war's end, he had amassed an army of about 150,000 men. His troops thrust southward in 1939 to aid Wang Chen, a brigade commander in Ho Lung's division, in the defense of the Wut'ai mountain region. They also took part in the so-called Hundred Regiments Offensive of August-September 1940, the major Chinese Communist effort of the war.

Nieh Jung-chen was elected to the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist party at the party's Seventh National Congress in 1945. After the War in the Pacific ended, his troops moved rapidly into Inner Mongolia. They were forced to evacuate Kalgan late in 1946, but they established a firm base at Shihchiachuang in 1947. Nieh was elected a member of the standing committee of the party's Shansi-Chahar-Hopei bureau and commander of the Shansi-Chahar-Hopei Field Army in 1947. When the military balance in north China shifted in favor of the Chinese Communist forces in 1948, Nieh was appointed commander of the north China military district ofthe People's Liberation Army and second secretary of the Chinese Communist party's north China bureau. He served on the presidium of the north China provisional people's congress and became a member of the north China people's government at Shihchiachuang. When Fu Tso-yi (q.v.) surrendered Peiping in January 1949, Nieh made the arrangements for the peaceful takeover of the old capital. Nieh then became garrison commander of the Peiping-Tientsin area, in which capacity he participated in unsuccessful negotiations with the Nationalists in April 1949. He became mayor of Peiping on 8 September 1949, and he held that post until February 1951. He also served as a delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. When the People's Republic of China was established on 1 October 1949, Nieh Jung-chen became a member of the Central People's Government Council and deputy chief of staff of the People's Revolutionary Military Council. He was promoted to acting chief of staff early in 1950 when Hsu Hsiang-ch'ien (q.v.) resigned, and he served briefly as vice chairman of the People's Revolutionary Military Council in 1954. Also in 1954, he represented the North China Military District at the National People's Congress and became a member of the congress's Standing Committee. Soon afterwards, he was made a vice chairman of the National Defense Council.

Nieh Jung-chen was rewarded for his military contributions to the Chinese Communist cause in September 1955, when he was named one of ten marshals of the People's Republic of China and was accorded the nation's three highest military orders: the Order of August First, first class; the Order of Freedom and Independence, first class; and the Order of Liberation, first class. In September 1956 he was reelected to the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist party at the party's Eighth National Congress, and in October of that year he became a vice premier of the State Council, once again working closely with Chou En-lai. When the Scientific Planning Commission of the State Council was reorganized in May 1957, Nieh replaced Ch'en Yi ( 1901—; q.v.) as its chairman. The Scientific Planning Commission was merged with the National Technological Commission in November 1958 to form the Scientific-Technological Commission, with Nieh as chairman. The new commission worked to coordinate the activities of the armaments ministries. Nieh served as a delegate from Szechwan to the National People's Congresses in 1958 and 1964, and he was elected to the presidium at the latter congress.

Throughout the 1950's Nieh Jung-chen, who spoke French and Russian fluently, visited foreign countries on behalf of the People's Republic of China. In December 1955 he was a member of a Chinese delegation which went to Rumania and, in January 1956, to the German Democratic Republic on the occasion of President Wilheim Pieck's eightieth birthday. Nieh then visited Hungary and Czechoslovakia and attended the Political Consultative Committee meeting of the Warsaw Pact powers as an observer. After a brief stopover in Moscow, he returned to Peking. In April 1956 Nieh headed the Chinese delegation to the Third Congress of the North Korean Workers' party; in 1957 he headed a delegation to the independence celebrations in Ghana; and in October 1959 he led a delegation to East Germany for the tenth-anniversary celebrations of the German Democratic Republic.

Little is known about Nieh Jung-chen's personal life except that he was married and was the father of at least two children.

Biography in Chinese

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