Ren Bishi

Name in Chinese
Name in Wade-Giles
Jen Pi-shih
Related People

Biography in English

Jen Pi-shih (1904-27 October 1950), Chinese Communist political worker and close associate of Mao Tse-tung, rose to the top rank of the Chinese Communist party hierarchy in the early 1940's as a member of the Political Bureau and the Secretariat and head of the Central Committee's organization department. Hsiangyin, Hunan, was the birthplace of Jen Pi-shih. Little is known about his family background or his childhood. After receiving his primary and secondary education in Changsha, he went to Shanghai. In 1920 Jen, then 16 years old, began to learn Russian and joined the Socialist Youth League, which was established in August under Comintern guidance to disseminate Alarxist concepts in China. That winter, he and a few other students, among them Liu Shao-ch'i (q.v.), were sent to the Soviet Union under Comintern auspices to the Communist University for Toilers of the East. They arrived in Moscow in the spring of 1921. Liu Shao-ch'i returned to China in 1922, but Jen remained in the Soviet Union for two more years, improving his Russian and studying Marxism. In 1922 he became a member of the Chinese Communist party.

After returning to Shanghai in 1924, Jen Pi-shih was assigned to work in the Communist Youth League (formerly the Socialist Youth League). In 1925 he was made the director of its organization department and a member of its central committee. He became general secretary of the Communist Youth League in 1926 and a member of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist party in 1927. After the Kuomintang split with the Chinese Communist party in 1927, Jen Pi-shih was assigned to work under cover in Nationalistcontrolled areas of the Yangtze valley. In the summer of 1928 he was reelected {in absentia) to the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist party at the Sixth National Congress, held in Moscow. Jen was arrested in Nanling hsien, Anhwei, in October 1928 and was imprisoned at Anking, but he was released in March 1929. After returning to Shanghai, he was arrested again in September 1929 and held for two months. At the end of the year, the central apparatus of the Chinese Communist party, then operating secretly in Shanghai, sent him to Wuhan as a member of the Yangtze bureau of the Central Committee. During 1930 he also served as secretary of the party's Wuhan municipal committee and Hupeh provincial committee. Jen Pi-shih was elected to the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist party in January 1931 and was sent in March to the central soviet area in Kiangsi, where he headed the bureau's organization department for two years. In May 1933 he was assigned to the Hunan-Kiangsi border area as secretary of the party committee, political commissar of the military district, and head of the political committee of the Sixth Red Army. Nationalist military forces surrounded the base area, but the Sixth Red Army, commanded by Hsiao K'o (q.v.) managed to break through the encirclement in July 1934. The Communist troops moved southwest and joined forces in eastern Kweichow with the Second Army Group of Ho Lung and Kuan Hsiang-ying (qq.v.). In October the combined force was designated the Second Front Army, with Ho Lung as commander and Jen Pi-shih as political commissar. Ho and Jen soon established a new Communist base in the Hunan-Hupeh-Szechwan-Kweichow border area. The Second Front Army remained in its base area until November 1935, when Nationalist military pressure forced it to make a retreat. After an arduous march through Kweichow and Yunnan and into Sikang, it joined the Fourth Front Army of Chang Kuo-t'ao, Chu Teh, and Hsü Hsiang-ch'ien (qq.v.) at Kantzu in June 1936. Jen Pi-shih reportedly was intrumental in the decision to rejoin Mao Tse-tung at the Communist base in northern Shensi. After arriving in the Yenan area in November, Jen Pi-shih became political commissar of the frontline general headquarters, serving under P'eng Te-huai (q.v.).

After the Sian Incident of December 1936 {see Chiang Kai-shek) and the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war in July 1937, some Communist forces were reorganized as the Eighth Route Army, with Chu Teh as commander in chief, P'eng Te-huai as deputy commander, and Jen Pi-shih as director of the general political department. The army went to Shansi, where Jen worked to rouse the peasants of north China against the Japanese and to spread Communist influence. He helped formulate Communist political policy in the north and traveled to Sinkiang, where Sheng Shih-ts'ai (q.v.) was permitting Communist organizations to work openly in the united front effort against Japan. After 1940 Jen Pi-shih remained at Yenan, the seat of Mao Tse-tung's soviet government. He became a member of the Chinese Communist party's Secretariat and head of the Central Committee's organization department. Thus, by his fortieth birthday, he had risen to the top rank of the party hierarchy. In April 1945 he gave the opening address at the party's Seventh National Congress. He was reelected to the Central Committee (of which he was the fourthranking member), the Political Bureau, and the Secretariat.

In March 1947, when Nationalist forces drove the Chinese Communists from Yenan, Mao Tse-tung decided to divide the party leaders into two groups for safety. Jen remained in Shensi with Mao and Chou En-lai; an alternate working committee under Liu Shaoch'i and Chu Teh moved to the Shansi-Chahar- Hopei area. Jen was given the additional assignment of formulating policy for Communist activities in the rural areas of China. In January 1948 he produced a notable report entitled "Some Problems of Agrarian Reform." During this period he also acted as guardian for Liu Shao-ch'i's son. The two groups of party leaders were reunited in May 1948 at Shihchia-chuang in southern Hopei. Although their control of the mainland was not yet complete, the Chinese Communist leaders had begun preparations for the establishment of a nation-wide training organization for young people. In April 1949 the first congress of the New Democratic Youth League (later renamed the Young Communist League) was convened. The importance placed on this organization by the Communist leadership was indicated by the fact that Jen Pi-shih made a speech at its first meeting which was a major statement of national political policy. His speech, which reflected decisions made at the March 1949 meeting of the Central Committee, marked an important shift in the "center of gravity of the revolution" from the rural areas to the cities and outlined a long-term program for national industrialization. At the congress, Jen was elected honorary chairman of the neworganization. Jen Pi-shih's April 1949 speech proved to be his last significant public appearance. Because of his poor health, he was unable to participate in the ceremonies held to inaugurate the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China in October 1949. He went to Moscow in January 1950 and received medical treatment for six months. He returned to China and gradually resumed work during the summer, but on 27 October he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died, at the age of only 46. Mao Tse-tung and virtually all of the top party leaders were present at his funeral, and his coffin was attended to by Liu Shao-ch'i, Chou En-lai, Chu Teh, and P'eng Chen. The official accounts of his career published at Peking identified him as one of the "closest comradesin-arms of Mao Tse-tung." A booklet, Hsueh-hsi Jen Pi-shih fung-chih [study comrade Jen Pi-shih], was published at Canton in 1950.

Jen was survived by his wife, Ch'en Tsungying, and by three daughters and one son.

Biography in Chinese

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