Sun Ch'uan-fang (1884-13 November 1935), Peiyang warlord who won control of Kiangsu, Chekiang, Kiangsi, Anhwei, and Fukien in the mid-1920's. It was only with the collapse of his power in 1927 that the success of the Northern Expedition became a certainty. Sun was assassinated in 1935.
A native of Linch'eng hsien, Shantung, Sun Ch'uan-fang grew up at a time when the building of a modern army was one of China's major preoccupations. He decided to pursue a military career, and, after receiving a basic military education in China, he went to Japan to enroll at the Shikan Gakko [military academy]. He was a member of the sixth class, which also included such future leaders as Chao Heng-t'i, Ch'eng Ch'ien, Li Ken-yuan, Li Lieh-chün, T'ang Chi-yao, and Yen Hsi-shan (qq.v.). Although he joined the T'ung-menghui during his stay in Japan, he was not an active member. After being graduated in 1909 and receiving a year of field training, Sun returned to China to become the commander of a regiment in the service of the Peiyang militarist Wang Chan-yuan, who controlled Hupeh. Thus Sun became associated with the Chihli clique. He did not distinguish himself during the 1911 revolution or the early days of the republic, and he therefore rose in rank very slowly. In 1917 he became a brigade commander, and in 1921 he was appointed commander of the 18th Division. mander marked a turning point in Sun Ch'uan-fang's career. On 7 August 1921 Wang Chan-yuan relinquished control of Hupeh after being defeated by two army divisions from Hunan. The Peking government appointed Wu P'ei-fu to succeed him as inspector general of Hupeh and Hunan on 9 August. Soon afterwards, Sun Ch'uan-fang was named commander in chief of forces on the upper reaches of the Yangtze, a post created because of an expected attack from Szechwan, where the local military leaders had made an agreement with the Hunan generals for a combined offensive against Wuhan. Wu P'ei-fu and his supporters rapidly suppressed the Hunan-Szechwan coalition. The first Chihli-Fengtien war broke out in May 1922. The Fengtien forces of Chang Tso-lin (q.v.) were defeated at Ch'anghsintien, near Peking, leaving Wu P'ei-fu dominant in north China. The Chihli clique, formally led by Ts'ao K'un (q.v.), then demanded the resignation of Hsu Shih-ch'ang (q.v.), who held the presidency at Peking. On 15 May, Sun Ch'uan-fang issued a statement advocating the peaceful unification of the northern and southern governments by restoring the constitution of 1912 and the National Assembly of 1913 and by returning Li Yuan-hung (q.v.) to the presidency. When Sun issued a message on 28 May in which he requested the simultaneous resignation of Sun Yat-sen and Hsü Shihch'ang, it became clear that Hsü was a principal target of this movement. Hsü resigned on 2 June, and Li assumed office nine days later. Sun Ch'uan-fang's message of 28 May also provided the basis for the demand made by subordinates of Ch'en Chiung-ming (q.v.) at Canton for the resignation of Sun Yat-sen. In October 1922 Hsü Shu-cheng (q.v.), aided by Hsü Ch'ung-chih (q.v.), established a provisional military government in Fukien. By the time it fell in November, the Peking government had ordered Sun Ch'uan-fang to move his army into Fukien. On 7 March 1923, at the insistance of Ts'ao K'un and of Wu P'ei-fu, the Peking government appointed Sun Ch'uan-fang tuchün of Fukien. After a long campaign, Sun captured Foochow in March 1924. In September of that year, Ts'ao K'un appointed him military rehabilitation commissioner for Chekiang and inspector general [ 161 ] Sun Ch'uan-fang of the Chckiang-Fukien area. In these capacities, Sun routed the forces of Lu Yung-hsiang, the Chekiang tuchün. Lu, who had opposed Ts'ao K'un, was forced to flee to Japan on 12 October. When Feng Yü-hsiang (q.v.) staged a coup at Peking in October and ousted Ts'ao K'un, Sun and Kiangsu tuchün Ch'i Hsieh-yuan (q.v.) declared war on Feng. In November, however, Sun sent a message to Peking in which he announced their support of Tuan Ch'i-jui (q.v.), who had become chief executive at Peking. In the meantime, Chang Tso-lin had sent Chang Tsung-ch'ang (q.v.) southward with his Fengtien forces to take control of the Yangtze provinces. The Peking government dismissed Ch'i Hsieh-yuan from his post and appointed Lu Yung-hsiang pacification commissioner of Kiangsu and Anhwei. Chang and Lu entered Nanking with their men on 10 January 1925. Ch'i tried to form an alliance with Sun Ch'uan-fang at this time, but Sun remained neutral and received an appointment as military governor of Chekiang.
The victory of the Fengtien forces led to their control of the rich Shanghai district, but not for long. Sun Ch'uan-fang decided, on the principle that the best defense is a strong offense, to save his Chekiang stronghold from the advancing Fengtien forces by attacking them. In October 1925 he staged a surprise attack on Shanghai, routed the Fengtien forces, and advanced to Hsuchow. Military leaders in Anhwei, Hupeh, and Kiangsi rallied to his support. Sun Ch'uan-fang now found himself virtually the strongest military leader of the Chihli group, although he still showed deference to Wu P'ei-fu. Accordingly, he appointed himself commander in chief of the allied armies of the five southeastern provinces (Kiangsu, Chekiang, Anhwei, Kiangsi, and Fukien). In December, he returned to Hangchow by way of Nanking and issued a statement declaring that the provinces under his control were not subject to orders from Peking. In the spring of 1926 he attempted to integrate the various Shanghai authorities and jurisdictions into the "Greater Shanghai Municipality." On 5 May 1926 he outlined his plan for the municipality in a speech to the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and appointed V. K. Ting (Ting Wen-chiang, q.v.) executive director of the bureau in charge of planning.
The national scene underwent rapid changes in 1926. Tuan Ch'i-jui had to step down from his chief executive's post. Chang Tso-lin and Wu P'ei-fu effected a reconciliation to meet the rising threat of the Northern Expedition. Sun Ch'uan-fang declared the neutrality of his five southeastern provinces and put forward his so-called Three-Love Principle—loving the country, loving the people, and loving the enemy. In August, as the Northern Expedition, got underway, Sun took the precaution of sending reinforcements to Kiangsi and reaffirmed his neutrality. At the same time, some of Sun's subordinates were secretly making arrangements to defect to the National Revolutionary Army. The Nationalists swept all before them in their advances into Hunan, Kiangsi, and Fukien. By early November, Sun Ch'uanfang had suffered severe losses in Kiangsi, and both Kiukiang and Nanchang had fallen to the Nationalists. Sun hurried north to Tientsin to confer with Chang Tso-lin.
The meetings at Tientsin led to the election of Chang Tso-lin as commander in chief of the newly created Ankuochun, with Sun Ch'uanfang, Chang Tsung-ch'ang, and Yen Hsi-shan as deputy commanders. By this time, however, the Nationalists had taken Fukien and many of Sun's generals had defected. By the end of December even Ch'en Yi (q.v.), the governor of Chekiang, had withdrawn his support from Sun. Realizing that Chekiang would soon be lost to him, Sun decided to take his stand against the Nationalists in Kiangsu. In February 1927 Sun and Chang Tsung-ch'ang established a joint headquarters at Nanking and reorganized their armies as the Seven-Province Allied Forces. The Nationalists captured Nanking and Shanghai in March, forcing Sun to retreat to Huaiyin and then to Shantung.
Chang Tso-lin made a last attempt to restructure his military establishment in July 1927. He formed seven group armies, with Sun Ch'uanfang in command of the First Army Group. In August, Sun recaptured Hsuchow and crossed the Yangtze to take Nanking. In the battle that followed, about 20,000 of Sun's 70,000 men were killed, and about 30,000 were taken prisoner. Faced with the total collapse of his base of power, Sun retired from public life and went to Dairen.
Sun Ch'uan-fang later moved to Tientsin, where he took up Buddhism and became a major supporter of a local Buddhist institution. He attracted public notice only once in the next few years, and then only because the National Government invited him to the conference at Loyang in 1932 that was held as a result of the Mukden Incident. On 13 November 1935 Sun's peaceful life was shattered. While Sun was attending a service at the Buddhist institute, a girl in her early twenties shot him with a pistol and killed him. She was Shih Chien-chiao, the daughter of Shih Ch'ungpin, who had served as a brigade commander under Chang Tsung-ch'ang and who had been executed by Sun's supporters in 1925. Public sympathy resulted in a seven-year sentence for Shih Chien-chiao, and she was pardoned in 1936. Among the offspring who survived Sun Ch'uan-fang was Sun Chia-ch'in, who became an artist. He worked as an assistant to Chang Ta-ch'ien (q.v.) and went to live with Chang in Brazil.