Su Yu

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Su Yu
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Biography in English

Su Yu (c. 1908-), Chinese Communist military leader who was deputy commander, under Ch'en Yi, of the New Fourth Army and its successor, the Third Field Army. After serving as chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army in 1954-58, he was made a vice minister of national defense in 1959.

The Huit'ung district of Hunan was the birthplace of Su Yü. Although his family originally came from Fukien, he was generally regarded in later years as a native of Hunan. Little is known about his formative years except that he received his secondary education at one of the Hunan provincial normal schools. Su Yü joined the Communist Youth League in 1926 and became involved in student political agitation at Ch'angte, Hunan. Having run afoul of the local authorities for his part in these activities, he fled to Wuchang, where he joined the training group associated with the 24th Division of the National Revolutionary Army. The divisional commander was Yeh T'ing (q.v.), and many of the officers had been trained at the Whampoa Military Academy. In 1927 Su Yü joined the Chinese Communist party. In June of that year, as Kuomintang- Communist tensions sharpened, the training group of the 24th Division was assigned to the Military Affairs Commission at Nanchang as a security force. When the Nanchang uprising (for details, see Yeh T'ing) was suppressed after a few days of fighting in early August, Su Yü, then a company commander, escaped. He eventually made his way to the Chingkan mountains base on the Hunan-Kiangsi border, where the guerrilla units of Mao Tse-tung and Chu Teh joined forces in the spring of 1928. During the early Kiangsi period, Su Yü rose rapidly in the embryonic Communist military hierarchy to become a regimental commander. In 1929, only two years after the Nanchang incident, he reorganized the Communist forces in southern Kiangsi into the 64th Division of the Twenty-second Red Army. After participating in local operations in central Kiangsi, Su's division was incorporated into the Fourth Front Army, headed by Lin Piao (q.v.). When the Nationalists began their first campaign to wipe out the Communist base in Kiangsi in early 1931, Su Yü's division was detached from Lin Piao's command, and he moved eastward to the Communist base area in northeast Kiangsi on the Fukien border, where Fang Chih-min (q.v.) was directing operations as commander of the Tenth Red Army. In 1934 Su Yü became chief of staff in Fang's Red Army Anti-Japanese Vanguard Unit. This force remained in Kiangsi after the main body of Communist troops began the Long March in the autumn of 1934. After Fang Chih-min was captured by the Nationalists and executed in June 1935, Su Yü succeeded to his command.

With the formation of the Nationalist- Communist united front in 1937 and the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war, plans were made to mobilize guerrilla forces in central China along the Yangtze to fight the Japanese. Su Yü's troops thus became an important part of the New Fourth Army, commanded by Yeh T'ing. Ch'en Yi (1901-; q.v.) was assigned to command the 1st column of the New Fourth Army, with Su Yü as his deputy. From 1939 to 1941 Su served as commander of the 1st column in Ch'en's south Yangtze command. The so-called New Fourth Army Incident (for details, see Ku Chu-t'ung; Yeh T'ing) of January 1941 resulted in the capture of Yeh T'ing and the death of his deputy, Hsiang Ying (q.v.). Su Yü escaped capture, for he had moved his forces north of the Yangtze before the incident. In the ensuing military reorganization, Ch'en Yi became acting commander of the New Fourth Army, with Su Yü as his deputy and Liu Shao-ch'i as political commissar. For the next three years, this army operated behind Japanese lines, especially in the Shanghai-Nanking-Hangchow area. In 1944 the Chinese Communists established a Kiangsu- Chekiang military district, with Su Yü in command.

After the Japanese surrender in 1945, the Nationalist-Communist struggle for control of the mainland became open and bitter. Su Yü remained in northern Kiangsu, where his army absorbed many of the local Chinese units that had been associated with the Japanese-sponsored regime at Nanking. By this time, Su had acquired a solid reputation as an able and decisive field commander. His performance in campaigns in northern Kiangsu and southern Shantung won him new recognition. These Communist forces were designated the East China People's Liberation Army in 1947 and the Third Field Army in 1948. Ch'en Yi and Su Yü conducted the operations which culminated in the Communist occupation of Shanghai in the spring of 1949. During the civil war period, Su Yü's combat performance was highly regarded by Western military observers in China. He was particularly noted for his ability to make effective use of artillery in conjunction with offensive ground operations. At the conclusion of the Chinese Communist drive through east China in 1949, the senior military and political officers of the Third Field Army assumed top posts in the regional administrative organizations. Su Yü thus served as deputy to Ch'en Yi at Shanghai and in the east China administrative and military organs during the 1950-52 period. He also became a member of the People's Revolutionary Military Council at Peking. In April 1952 Su was named deputy chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army. He served at Peking under Nieh Jung-chen (q.v.), who was acting chief of staff during the period when Hsu Hsiangch'ien (q.v.) was the nominal chief. At the time of the governmental reorganization of 1954, Su was named chief of staff and a member of the National Defense Council. In 1956 he was elevated to full membership in the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist party, having become an alternate member in 1945. During this period, Su also served on a number of military delegations to foreign countries. In February 1958 he served as the ranking military leader accompanying Chou En-lai to North Korea, where arrangements were made for the withdrawal of the Chinese People's Volunteers. In October 1958 Huang K'o-ch'eng (q.v.) replaced Su as chief of staff. Su Yü became vice minister of national defense in 1959.

Biography in Chinese

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