Biography in English

Hsü Shu-cheng (4 November 1880-30 December 1925), held many important offices in Peking as the most powerful deputy of Tuan Ch'i-jui (q.v.) in the period from 1912 to 1920 and co-founder of the Anfu Club. His actions in extending Chinese authority in Outer Mongolia after 1918 turned the Mongols against China and were a chief cause of the Chihli-Anhwei conflict of 1920. He was assassinated at Langfang in December 1925.

The youngest of seven children, Hsü Shucheng was born in Hsiaohsien, Kiangsu. His father, Hsü Chung-ching, held the pa-kungsheng degree (similar to the chü-jen) and taught school in the village. The young Hsü proved to be a gifted student, and he was sent to Hsuchow to study in 1889. He enrolled at the district school and passed the examinations for the sheng-yuan degree in 1892. Four years later, he became a salaried sheng-yuan.

In 1901 Hsü went to Tsinan and sent a memorial on current affairs and troop-training to Yuan Shih-k'ai, then the governor of Shantung. Although Yuan did not receive him or give him an appointment, his trip to Tsinan was not fruitless, for he came to the attention of Tuan Ch'i-jui fq.v.). At the end of the year Hsü joined Tuan's staff as a clerk. In 1905, with Tuan's support, he went to Japan to prepare for entrance into the Shikan Gakko [military academy] as a government student. He enrolled in the infantry course at the Shikan Gakko in 1908 as a member of the seventh class. After being graduated in 1909, he returned to China and reportedly received a commission in Tuan Ch'i-jui's 6th Division. When Tuan received command of the First Army at the end of 1911, Hsü became his chief of staff. After the republic was established, Tuan was appointed minister of war in Yuan Shih-k'ai's government at Peking. Hsü Shu-cheng acted as chief of the ministry's military studies office. In September 1912 he was appointed chief of the remount depot and was assigned to handle matters pertaining to the general affairs office. He came to be known as "the spirit of Tuan Ch'i-jui." In May 1914 Hsü was appointed vice minister of war. Tuan Ch'i-jui decided to oppose Yuan's plan to become monarch, and he resigned on 31 May 1915. Soon after Tuan departed, Hsü, who supported Tuan's stand, was impeached for allegedly padding the cost of foreign munitions in his reports. He was relieved of his post on 26 June. Hsü remained in Peking and established the Cheng-chih Aliddle School. When Ts'ai .O and T'ang Chi-yao (qq.v.) took action against Yuan Shih-k'ai in December 1915, Hsü wrote Yuan a letter advising him to abandon his monarchical plan.

In April 1916 Yuan Shih-k'ai appointed Tuan Ch'i-jui premier and minister of war. Tuan proposed that Hsü Shu-cheng be made secretary general of the cabinet, but Yuan installed one of his own men, Wang Shih-t'ung, in that office and made Hsü deputy secretary general. After Yuan died in June and Li Yuan-hung (q-v.) succeeded to the presidency, Tuan again proposed that his trusted supporter be appointed secretary general of the cabinet. Li opposed the appointment, but he submitted to Tuan's wishes after Hsü Shih-ch'ang (q.v.) intervened in the matter.

The Peiyang faction began to split into the Chihli clique, led by Feng Kuo-chang (q.v.), and the Anhwei clique, led by Tuan Ch'i-jui. Hsü worked to increase the power of the premiership and to strip the presidency of all authority. He conferred on himself the right to speak at cabinet meetings and the power to initiate action. Hsü soon came into conflict with Sun Hung-i, the minister of interior, who sought to increase Li's power in order to curb Tuan. Hsü Shih-ch'ang was called upon to mediate their dispute. In November 1916, on Hsü Shih-ch'ang's recommendation, both men were removed from office.

Hsü Shu-cheng's power and influence were not diminished greatly by his removal from office. He played a major role in Tuan Ch'i-jui's action to break relations with Germany in March 1917. The question of whether China should oppose Germany and participate in the First World War assumed such proportions that Tuan Ch'i-jui was forced out of the premiership in May. However, after Chang Hsün (q.v.) carried out his monarchical plot, Li Yuan-hung issued an order on 2 July 1917 by which Tuan was restored to the premiership and was made minister of war. Li also ordered Feng Kuochang to assume the duties of the presidency. In August, Hsü Shu-cheng became vice minister of war, and China declared war on Germany. Hsü was a prime mover in the 1917-18 negotiations with the Japanese for the Nishihara loans, which supposedly were designed to enable China to create a model army. The increased antagonism of the Chihli faction tovv'ard the Anhwei faction forced Tuan and Hsü to resign from office in November.

Hsü Shu-cheng, hoping to restore his chief to power, went to Mukden and received from Chang Tso-lin (q.v.) the loan of some Fengtien forces and the title of vice commander in chief of the Fengtien Army within the Great Wall. He established headquarters at Chünliangcheng, near Tientsin, and began to apply political pressure on Feng Kuo-chang. On 7 March 1918 he and Wang I-t'ang (q.v.) established the Anfu Club, which came to control the National Assembly. On 23 March, Feng issued a mandate reappointing Tuan Ch'i-jui premier.

Feng Kuo-chang and Tuan Ch'i-jui had come into conflict over the question of how to deal with Sun Yat-sen's government at Canton. Feng had proposed that negotiations be held, but Tuan and Hsü thought military force to be a better solution to the problem. In May 1918 Hsü ordered three Fengtien divisions to Hunan. However, Chang Tso-lin would not permit Hsü to act as if these troops were his own and ordered the three divisions to return to Manchuria. In mid-June, Hsü caused the assassination of Lu Chien-chang, a former military governor of Shensi who had opposed him. The action was to have repercussions, for Lu was the uncle by marriage of Feng Yü-hsiang (q.v.). The Peking government had relieved Feng Yühsiang of command of the 16th Mixed Brigade in February. Tuan Ch'i-jui restored Feng to his post and made him defense commissioner of Ch'angte. Feng did not comment on the assassination or the "appointment. At the end of July, Hsü incurred the wrath of Chang Tso-lin once again, this time for using funds appropriated to the Fengtien forces for other purposes. Chang rescinded Hsü's title as vice commander in chief of the Fengtien Armv within the Great Wall.

The war participation bureau, with Tuan Ch'i-jui as its director, had been estabhshed to prepare China for war with Germany. In September 1918 Hsü succeeded Chin Yun-p'eng as co-director of the war participation bureau. After Hsü Shih-ch'ang assumed the presidency in October, Tuan resigned as premier, but retained his post as director of the bureau. Hsü became Tuan's chief of general staff". The following month, Hsü Shu-cheng, with the brevet rank of general, was sent to Japan for the ostensible purpose of observing the autumn military maneuvers. It has been reported that the real purpose of his mission was to discuss with high officials at Tokyo the matter of closer cooperation between the two nations in such areas as Manchuria. Hsü returned to China in mid-December 1918.

Hsü Shu-cheng then turned his attention to the problem of reasserting Chinese authority in Manchuria and Outer Mongolia. At Tuan's suggestion, in April 1919 he proposed a plan for "frontier pacification." A presidential mandate of 24 June abolished the war participation bureau and established a frontier defense bureau, with Tuan Ch'i-jui as its director general. Hsü was appointed high commissioner for northwestern frontier development and commander in chief of the Northwest Frontier Defense Army. The Chinese resident commissioner at Urga (Ulan Bator), Ch'en Yi, was instructed that he would continue to conduct negotiations with the Mongols and that Hsü would have authority only in military matters. Hsü arrived in Urga in late October determined to abolish Mongolian autonomy, which had been recognized by a Sino-Russian agreement in 1913 and reaffirmed in 1915. He disregarded the resident commissioner and presented his proposals directly to the Mongolian government. When he encountered Mongol opposition, he threatened to arrest both the premier and the Hutukhtu. Under this pressure, the Mongol princes and ministers signed a petition for the abolition of autonomy. On 22 November 1919 Hsü Shih-ch'ang proclaimed the end of Outer Mongolian autonomy. Hsü Shu-cheng arrived in Peking two days later. At his urging, the post of resident commissioner was abolished and he was appointed rehabilitation commissioner of Outer Mongolia on 1 December. The following day, he was given the title of special envoy, with power to confer titles or withhold privileges. He then returned to Urga, arriving there on 27 December.

Hsü Shu-cheng began to consolidate personal power in Outer Mongolia by disarming Mongol forces, transferring the functions of government to his office, and filling important posts with his own men. He placed the financial burden of supporting Chinese garrison troops on the Mongols and obtained two large Japanese loans to develop the region, one of them for the purpose of constructing a railway between Kalgan and Kiakhta. In February 1920 he went to Peking for formal appointment as director of the projected railway. He returned to Urga soon afterwards.

By this time, Chang Tso-lin had become outraged by what he considered to be Hsü's usurpation of territory and authority that was rightfully in his sphere of influence. In March 1920 Chang informed Tuan Ch'i-jui that if Hsü and the Anfu Club did not make policy modifications, he would terminate his alliance with Tuan. In April, Chang formed an alliance with the Chihli generals led by Ts'ao K'un against Tuan and the Anfu Club. Hsü returned to Peking on 17 June. He was removed from office, with the consent of Tuan Ch'i-jui, on 4 July, after his dismissal had been demanded by Ts'ao K'un, C^hang Tso-lin, and Li Ch'un. On 6 July, Tuan announced the formation of the National Pacification Army. Five days later, the situation erupted again when Hsü Shihch'ang yielded to pressure from Tuan's camp, censured Ts'ao K'un, and removed Wu P'ei-fu (q.v.) from command of the 3rd Division. Chang Tso-lin, Ts'ao K'un, and their allies then charged that Tuan Ch'i-jui and his followers had declared war on the Chihli forces. Chang began to move Fengtien troops southward, and Chihli forces marched north from Paotins. Hsü Shu-cheng's forces fought well on the eastern front, but units of the National Pacification Army under Tuan Chih-kuei were defeated near Paoting on 17 July. Tuan Ch'i-jui then asked to be dismissed from his posts for failure to accomplish his mission. On 19 July, Hsü Shih-ch'ang issued a mandate ordering the cessation of Chihli-Anhwei hostilities. Hsü Shu-cheng was deprived of all honors and posts, and an order was issued for his arrest on 29 July. He took refuge in the Japanese legation at Peking and remained there until mid-November, when he went to Shanghai. The Anfu Club was dissolved by government mandate on 4 August.

Hsü Shu-cheng's Mongolian policies also served to turn the Mongols against the Chinese government at Peking. Some of them collaborated with Baron von Ungern-Sternberg and his White Russian forces. A provisional people's government of Mongolia was established at Urga in March 1921. The Russian Red Army and Mongol forces occupied Urga on 6 June and established a people's revolutionary government of Mongolia. From December 1921 to February 1922 Hsü Shu-cheng represented Tuan Ch'i-jui in Canton at discussions concerning an alliance of the Anhwei faction and Sun Yat-sen's supporters against the Chihli faction in control at Peking. Liao Chung-k'ai, Wang Ching-wei, and Chiang Kai-shek represented Sun in these talks. After Chang Tso-lin sent Li Shao-pai to Kweilin to discuss the matter of alliance with Sun, Hsü was replaced by Chou Shan-p'ei, presumably because of Chang's objections to him. In the autumn of 1922 Hsü allied himself with Wang Yung-ch'uan, with aid from Hsü Ch'ung-chih, against Li Hou-chi, the governor of Fukien. He announced that he would establish a provisional military government and, on 2 October, ordered Li Hou-chi to evacuate Foochow within 24 hours. On 12 October, Li was forced to take refuge on a warship in the harbor. Six days later, Hsü proclaimed himself head of the new government and designated ^Vang Yung-ch'uan pacification commissioner. Because the people of Fukien refused to support the new regime, Hsü changed Wang Yungch'uan's designation to commander in chief and appointed Lin Sen q.v. t provincial chairman on 31 October. However, these changes did not win him the support of the people. The Peking government sent Sa Chen-ping (q.v.) to assume charge of military affairs in Fukien, and Hsü fled to Shanghai on 2 November. In the early autumn of 1923 Hsu made a trip to Japan. He returned to Shanghai before the second Chihli-Fengtien war began in 1924. He attempted to use the International Settlement as a base and to gain control of the remnant forces of Lu Yung-hsiang, the governor of Chekiang. In October, the International Settlement authorities charged him with violating settlement regulations and forced him to leave Shanghai on a British ship. He was told to remain on board until the ship reached London. However, when the ship reached Hong Kong the British authorities, having learned of Feng Yü-hsiang's coup at Peking, informed Hsü that he was free to remain in China. He decided to go to Europe and arrived in Paris in late December. On 4 January 1925 Tuan Ch'i-jui, who had become provisional chief executive of the new government at Peking, appointed Hsü special commissioner to study political conditions in Europe, America, and Japan. After visiting eight European countües, the United States, and Japan, he returned to China at the end of the year, arriving in Peking on 23 December. Five days later, he paid a formal call on Tuan Ch'i-jui, but he received no official appointment from Tuan.

Hsü Shu-cheng left Peking for Shanghai on 29 December 1925. The next day, when his train passed through Langfang, then occupied by a unit of Feng Yü-hsiang's Kuominchün, he was taken from it and shot. The assassination was reputed to be the work of Lu Ch'eng-wu, the son of Lu Chien-chang, and a public telegram issued in his name stated that he had killed Hsü to avenge his father's death. Hsü was survived by his first wife, his second wife, four sons, and two daughters. His first wife, born in 1878, died on the mainland in 1956. His second wife was Shen Ting-Ian, whom he married in 1913. One of his daughters, Hsü Ying, married the linguist Li Fang-kuei (q.v.).

In 1921 Hsü wrote Chien-kuo ch'uan-chen [true commentary on national construction]. One of his sons, Hsü Tao-lin (Dau-lin), published Hsü Shu-cheng hsien-sheng wen-chi nien-p'u ho-k'an [the collected writings and chronological biography of Hsü Shu-cheng] in 1962.

Biography in Chinese



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