Biography in English

T'ang Sheng-chih (31 October 1890 ?-), Hunanese militarist whose successes against Wu P'ei-fu were of major importance to the first stage of the Northern Expedition. He dominated Hupeh, Hunan, and southern Honan in 1927, and he was for a time the most powerful man in the National Government at Wuhan. His military career after 1928 was marked by sporadic alliance with and opposition to Chiang Kai-shek. After 1949 he held a variety of posts in the People's Republic of China. Tungan hsien, Hunan, was the birthplace of T'ang Sheng-chih. His grandfather had been an officer in the Hunan Army, and his father was the director of an industrial bureau. The young T'ang received his early education at home, but with the establishment in 1905 of provincial military primary schools, he enrolled at the Hunan Army Primary School. It may be inferred that he later attended the Wuchang Army Middle School, for in 1912 he enrolled in the infantry course at the Paoting Military Academy, where his schoolmates included Ch'en Ming-shu and Liu Wen-tao (qq.v.). Liu headed a student group which pressed for reform at the academy. T'ang represented the infantry division in this reformist group, and Ch'en represented the artillery division. Upon graduation from the Paoting Military Academy, T'ang Sheng-chih returned to Hunan to become a probationary platoon commander in the 1st Mixed Brigade. With the death of Yuan Shih-k'ai in June 1916 and the downfall of the Hunan tutuh [military governor], T'ang Hsiang-ming, Hunan became the scene of a power struggle among such men as T'an Yenk'ai, Chao Heng-t'i, Ch'eng Ch'ien, Lu Tip'ing (qq.v.), and Sung Ho-keng. When T'an Yen-k'ai came to power, T'ang Sheng-chih was appointed a battalion commander serving under Sung Ho-keng. After the Peiyang general Chang Ching-yao became governor of Hunan in 1918, T'ang broke with Sung and joined the forces of Chao Heng-t'i as a regimental commander. Chao emerged as acting governor after the ouster of Chang Ching-yao in 1920. For his part in Chao's rise to power, T'ang was promoted commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Division. In 1921 he received command of the 4th Division. To instill proper discipline and attitudes in his troops, he sought Buddhist teachers. In 1922 he recruited for this purpose Ku Tzu-t'ung, a native of Yochow who adhered to the mi-tsung [mystic] sect of Buddhism. For the next three decades, Ku exercised considerable influence over T'ang and preached regularly to T'ang's men.

T'ang Sheng-chih figured prominently in the 1923 war between T'an Yen-k'ai and Chao Heng-t'i, remaining loyal to Chao despite offers from T'an. With the aid of forces led by Wu P'ei-fu (q.v.), Chao turned back T'an's troops. By 1926, however, T'ang Sheng-chih had decided to challenge Chao Heng-t'i's rule in Hunan. Having assured himself of National Government support, T'ang began a campaign to maneuver Chao into resigning rather than head a campaign against Wu P'ei-fu. Chao finally resigned on 11 March 1926, appointing T'ang director of the provincial affairs council and acting governor. T'ang assumed office on 25 March. Soon afterwards, Ch'en Ming-shu and Pai Ch'ung-hsi arrived in Changsha to win T'ang's support for the projected Northern Expedition. The combination of this mission and military aid against Wu P'ei-fu bore rich fruit, for on 1 June 1926 T'ang announced his acceptance of the post of commander of the Eighth Army in the National Revolutionary Army.

Supported by forces of the Seventh and Fourth armies, T'ang Sheng-chih launched an offensive against the enemy positions on 5 July 1926. On 9 July, Chiang Kai-shek assumed office as commander in chief of the Northern Expedition and appointed T'ang commander in chief of front-line operations. T'ang thus commanded six Hunan divisions headed by Ho Chien, Li P'in-hsien, Liu Hsing, Chou Lan, Yeh Ch'i, and Hsia Tou-yin ; he also had supreme authority over the Fourth Army of Li Chi-shen and the Seventh Army of Li Tsung-jen. His old Paoting classmate Liu Wen-tao was appointed party representative and chief of the political department in the Eighth Army. On 1 1 July T'ang's forces recovered Changsha, and he formally assumed office there as governor three days later. By the time Chiang Kai-shek arrived in Changsha on 12 August, T'ang had created a strong forward bastion for the Northern Expedition. In mid-August, T'ang Sheng-chih led a general offensive northward with elements of the Fourth, Seventh, and Eighth armies. His 2nd Division occupied Yochow on 22 August. Wu P'ei-fu, alarmed by the rapid progress of the Northern Expedition armies, arrived at Hankow on 25 August and held a military conference at which it was decided to make a strong stand at Ting-ssu-ch'iao. The battle for that strategic point began on 26 August and ended three days later in a Nationalist victory. By 1 September, divisions of the Fourth Army led by Chang Fa-k'uei (q.v.) and Ch'en Ming-shu had reached the gates of Wuchang. On 6-7 September, T'ang Sheng-chih's forces occupied Hanyang and Hankow. Wuchang finally fell in October, with official credit for its occupation being given to T'ang Sheng-chih, Ch'en K'o-yu (field commander of the Fourth Army), and Teng Yen-ta (q.v.). With the capture of Wuchang and the opening of the Kiangsi front, the Fourth and Seventh armies were moved eastward, leaving T'ang's Eighth Army in effective control of the Hunan-Hupeh area. Chiang Kai-shek accepted his situation and instructed Teng Yen-ta to inaugurate a new Hupeh provincial government in consultation with T'ang. However, Chiang was well aware of the dangers inherent in T'ang's powerful position. In late September, he had reported to T'an Yen-k'ai and Chang Jen-chieh (q.v.) at Canton that "the political situation in Wuhan may not be easy to handle. Unless a few of the government members and Central Executive Committee members come to Wuhan, political power may slip away from the Central authorities .... A political council should be formed with Central figures to replace the provincial political council." On 22 October, Chiang suggested that the central Kuomintang headquarters be transferred from Canton to Wuhan. When the National Government began functioning at Wuhan in January 1927, T'ang Sheng-chih closely associated himself with its leftist political policies. Both Ch'en Ming-shu and Liu Wen-tao were dismissed in March, and T'ang thereafter limited his associations to leftists. After Wang Ching-wei returned from Europe to head the Wuhan regime and Chiang Kai-shek formed an opposition government at Nanking, T'ang became military commander in chief at Wuhan. In late April, even as the break between Wuhan and Nanking was developing, T'ang drove northward into Honan, with the aid of Chang Fa-k'uei's Fourth Army, against strong Fengtien forces. At the beginning of June, T'ang's victorious but battered troops effected a juncture with the Kuominchun of Feng Yu-hsiang (q.v.) in northern Honan. Feng then held the balance of power in China, and the Wuhan leaders ceded Honan to him in hopes of winning his support against Chiang Kai-shek. Feng, however, finally decided to support Chiang. About this time, the Ma Jih Incident (for details, see Ho Chien) caused T'ang Sheng-chih to return to Changsha. His attitude toward Communists began to change when he discovered that his supporters and subordinates in Hunan had become strongly anti-Communist. In mid-July, confronted with strong evidence of Comintern plans to challenge their power, the Kuomintang leaders at Wuhan decided to take action against the Communists. By this time, T'ang's commanders Ho Chien (q.v.) and Li P'in-hsien had moved to Wuhan and had taken action against labor unions in the tri-city area. On 1 7 July Ho and Li placed Hankow and Hanyang under military rule, suppressing all local Communist organizations. The anti- Communist campaign continued, and by mid- August, Wang Ching-wei and his associates were able to give their full attention to the problem of reconciliation with the Nanking and Shanghai (Western Hills) factions of the Kuomintang. Objections to the composition of the Central Special Committee decided upon to serve as an interim government caused T'ang and Ku Meng-yu (q.v.) to establish the Wuhan branch of the Political Council and to declare the Central Special Committee an illegal body. The rapid growth of T'ang Sheng-chih's military organization had cost it much of its cohesiveness. Such commanders as Lu Ti-p'ing and Ho Yao-tsu (q.v.) turned against T'ang, and even Ho Chien adopted an equivocal attitude. On 20 October 1927 the Nanking authorities announced plans for an expedition against T'ang and relieved him of all posts; a few days later, the Central Special Committee expelled him from the Kuomintang. In face of the Nanking expedition and the unwillingness of many of his old commanders to support him, T'ang announced his retirement on 1 1 November and went to Japan. He remained there until the autumn of 1928, when his Buddhist adviser, Ku Tzu-t'ung, interpreted signs as favoring T'ang's return. Soon after his return to China, he effected a coup against Pai Ch'ung-hsi in north China, thereby winning back forces he had commanded before 1927. On 29 March 1929 T'ang's troops were designated the Fifth Route Army for the Suppression of Rebels. On 1 June, he was appointed chiefofthe military advisory council and director of the organization department of the troop-disbandment conference. In late October, he and his Fifth Route Army took the field against Feng Yühsiang in western Honan. T'ang then became acting commander in chief of all National Government forces in Honan. The campaign ended with Feng's withdrawal from Honan in late November. T'ang was awarded for his conduct of the campaign with an appointment to the State Council. On 5 December, however, T'ang announced his intention to oppose Chiang Kai-shek and accepted an appointment from Wang Ching-wei as commander in chief of the Fourth Route of the Party Protection and National Salvation Army. The National Government promptly ordered a punitive expedition against T'ang, causing him to flee to Hong Kong in January 1930.

T'ang Sheng-chih did not return to public life until the spring of 1931, when he joined the secessionist movement at Canton (see Wang Ching-wei; Lin Sen) as a member of its state council. After the Japanese invaded Manchuria in September, T'ang accompanied Wang Ching-wei, Chang Fa-k'uei, and Huang Shaohung (q.v.) to Shanghai for negotiations with National Government authorities. As part of the arrangements made for reunification, his membership in the Kuomintang was restored on 19 October. In the ensuing reorganization of the party and the National Government he was elected an alternate member of the Kuomintang's Central Executive Committee and was appointed chairman of the military advisory council. In December 1934 he became inspector general of military training ; he held that post until the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war in 1937. In November 1937, on the advice of Ku Tzu-t'ung, he volunteered to lead the defense of Nanking. Upon being appointed Nanking garrison commander, he vowed to achieve victory or die with the city. When Nanking fell on 12 December, however, T'ang moved westward to rejoin the National Government. Although T'ang was a nominal member of the Military Affairs Commission throughout the war, he played no active role in wartime decision-making. In fact, he left Chungking after a time and returned to his native village in Hunan. In 1948 he was elected to the National Assembly as a delegate from Hunan. T'ang remained in China after the Communist victory in 1949 and held a variety of posts in the People's Republic of China. He served as a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, vice chairman of the Hunan provincial government, and a member of the Central-South Military and Administrative Committee. He was a Hunan delegate to the National People's Congress in 1954 and in the ensuing governmental reorganization he was elected to the National Defense Council. In 1956 he became a member of the standing committee of the Kuomintang Revolutionary Committee, and in 1958 he was named to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

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