Wei Lihuang

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Wei Li-huang
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Biography in English

Wei Li-huang (1897-17 January 1960), Nationalist military commander who rose to become commander in chief of the First War Area in 1938 and of the Chinese Expeditionary Force in 1942. In 1948 he was acting director of the Nationalist operations in the Northeast, and his career was ruined by the loss of that strategic area. Wei later held sinecure posts in the People's Republic of China.

Born in Hofei hsien, Anhwei, Wei Li-huang began his military career as a volunteer in the forces of Wu Chung-hsin (q.v.). He soon became Wu's bodyguard, and in this capacity he accompanied Wu to Canton about 1920. At Canton, Wei joined the Second Army of Hsu Ch'ung-chih (q.v.) as a squad leader. Wei rose steadily in rank, and in 1926 he received command of the 3rd Division in the First Army of the National Revolutionary Army. In 1927, after participating in the first stage of the Northern Expedition, he was appointed commander of the 3rd column of the northern Anhwei garrison forces. With the full-scale resumption of the Northern Expedition in 1928, Wei became deputy commander of the Ninth Army of the First Group Army. In the military reorganization that followed the successful completion of the Northern Expedition, he was made commander of the 45th Division (later the 10th Division) and commander in chief for "bandit suppression" in northern Anhwei. In 1930 he was designated garrison commander for northern Anhwei.

In connection with the 1931 campaign against the Communists in central China, Wei Li-huang took command of the Fourteenth Army and participated in the operations in central Kiangsi. In 1932, by a surprise stroke, he succeeded in capturing the Chinese Communist base at the market town of Ghinchiachai in the Tapieh mountains in southwestern Anhwei. Chiang Kai-shek was so pleased by this victory that he renamed the town Lihuang and named the area around it Lihuang hsien. By reason of his victories over the Chinese Communists, Wei Li-huang won the nickname "ch'ang-sheng chiang-chün" [ever-victorious general] . At this juncture, he was given some formal military education, as befitted one of his accomplishments and promise. In 1933-34 he took a short course at the Central Military Academy. In 1934 the National Government launched its fifth campaign against the Chinese Communists, the campaign which forced them out of their Kiangsi stronghold and on the Long March to Shensi. Wei Li-huang served as commander in chief of the eastern route of the Kiangsi- Kwangtung-Fukien-Hunan-Hupeh Bandit-Suppression Army. In 1935 he was elected to the Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang. At year's end, he was appointed commander in chief of the Nationalist forces on the Hunan-Hupeh-Anhwei-Kiangsi border.

After the Sino-Japanese war began in July 1937, Wei Li-huang became deputy commander of the Second War Area in Shansi. In October, he deployed the troops of Liu Mao-en, Li Mo-an, and Wang Ching-kuo against the advancing Japanese north of Taiyuan. In the ensuing battle of Hsinkow, they inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese. Taiyuan finally was captured by another Japanese force, which moved on it from the east in November. Late in 1938 Wei became commander in chief of the First War Area (Honan and southern Shensi), with concurrent command of the Third Group Army. In the spring of 1939 he also became governor of Honan. That May, he was promoted to full general. He received the concurrent posts of commanding officer of the Hopei-Chahar War Area and chief of the Hopei-Chahar partygovernment field committee in 1940. At that time, Hopei and Chahar were under Japanese occupation. At the end of 1941, Wei was relieved of his posts, reportedly because of his reluctance to take action against Chinese Communist forces after the New Fourth Army Incident (see Hsiang Ying; Yeh T'ing). In 1942, however, he was made a member of the Military Affairs Commission and was appointed commander in chief of the Chinese Expeditionary Force, with headquarters at Kunming, which was charged with participation in the joint Anglo-American-Chinese campaign for the recovery of Burma.

Wei Li-huang was in command of five Chinese armies which crossed the Nu River in May 1944 and attacked in the direction of Tengchung and Lungling, in coordination with forces which had been trained and stationed in India. This, the Second Burma Campaign, planned by Lieutenant General Joseph W. Stilwell, achieved its objective in January 1945 after hard fighting. With the capture of Wanting and the recovery of control of the entire Burma Road, the work of the Chinese Expeditionary Force came to an end. Wei Li-huang, who had been appointed deputy commander in chief of the Chinese ground forces in 1944, experienced a period of military inactivity after this campaign. In 1946 he was sent to Europe and the United States on an inspection tour. He did not return to China until the end of 1947, by which time the Nationalists had suffered serious defeats at the hands of the Chinese Communists in Manchuria.

In January 1948 Wei Li-huang succeeded Ch'en Ch'eng (q.v.) as acting director of the Northeastern headquarters and commander in chief for bandit-suppression in the Northeast. He assumed office on 18 January, by which time the Communists had long since taken the initiative in that area. Nevertheless, when the Nationalists were forced to abandon their Manchurian effort in October, Wei received much of the blame for the loss of the Northeast. He was stripped of all titles and posts and was imprisoned at Nanking to await trial on charges of corruption. After Li Tsung-jen (q.v.) became acting President in 1949, Wei was released in April. He then went to Hong Kong, where he lived in virtual retirement. On 15 March 1955 Wei Li-huang went to Peking, the capital of the People's Republic of China. He was a delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in January 1956, and he was elected to the conference's National Committee. After the conference, he entered the Socialist Academy at Peking. He soon became a member of the standing committee of the Kuomintang Revolutionary Committee, a post he retained until 1959. In November 1958 he represented Anhwei at the National People's Congress. He was appointed a vice chairman of the National Defense Council in April 1959. Soon afterwards, he was elected to the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. By this time, arteriosclerosis and heart disease had undermined Wei's health. He died at Peking on 1 7 January 1960.

Wei Li-huang married four times. The first of these unions was an arranged marriage. When he was a regimental commander at Kweilin, he took a new wife, ne'e Sung. In 1936 he married a nurse at the Chinkiang Children's Hospital, Chu Lu-ssu. Finally, in the postwar period, he married Han Ch'uan-hua, a graduate of Tsinghua University who had studied in the United States. After 1955, she taught at the Peking Normal College for Girls. Wei had six children by his first three wives: three sons — Tao-chieh, Tao-shu and Tao-jan—and three daughters—Tao-ch'ung, Tao-ching, and Taoyun.

Biography in Chinese

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