Yang Jie

Name in Chinese
Name in Wade-Giles
Yang Chieh
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Biography in English

Yang Chieh (25 January 1889-19 September 1949), outstanding military strategist who headed the Chinese Army Staff" College from 1931 to 1935 and served as ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1938 to 1940.

Little is known about Yang Chieh's family background or early years except that he was born in Tali hsien, Yunnan, and that in the spring of 191 1 he enrolled at the Shimbu Gakko [military preparatory academy] in Japan. He returned to China when the revolution began in October 1911 and joined the republican forces at Shanghai as a battalion commander. In 1912, with the establishment of the Chinese republic, he became commander of the 1st Cavalry Regiment of the Kweichow Army, with the rank of colonel. At this time, his fellow provincial T'ang Chi-yao (q.v.) was governor of Kweichow. In 1913 Yang was promoted to command of the 5th Brigade. After the socalled second revolution {see Li Lieh-chün) began in 1913, Kweichow forces moved into Szechwan, and Yang served briefly as Chungking garrison commander, Chungking chief of police, and Szechwan commissioner for civil aff'airs. With the failure of the second revolution in September, Yang returned to Yunnan. In 1914, after T'ang Chi-yao became military governor of Yunnan, Yang was appointed an instructor at the Yunnan Military Academy. He participated in the anti-Yuan Shih-k'ai movement of Ts'ai O (q.v.) and T'ang Chi-yao in 1915 and early 1916, returning to Yunnan after Yuan's death in 1916 to serve as adviser to T'ang.

In 1920, on the recommendation of T'ang Chi-yao, Yang Chieh enrolled at the Shikan Gakko [military academy] in Japan, where one of his classmates was Hsiung Shih-hui (q.v.). Yang was graduated first in his class in 1924, and his wife, the former Chao Shih-chün, was graduated at the same time from Tokyo Normal University for Women. Upon his return to China, Yang served briefly in the forces of Chang Tso-lin (q.v.) as a staff" officer. In December 1924 he joined the forces of Feng Yü-hsiang (q.v.) as chief of staff" of the Third Army of the Kuominchün. After Feng consolidated control of Honan province, Yang was appointed dean of the Honan Military Training Institute in September 1925.

At the invitation of Ch'eng Ch'ien (q.v.), the commander of the Sixth Army of the National Revolutionary Army, Yang Chieh went to Canton in May 1926 to become commander of the 17th Division. He participated in the first stage of the Northern Expedition, and by the late spring of 1927 he had risen to become acting commander of the Sixth Army. Yang supported Chiang Kai-shek during the Kuomintang split over the question of alliance with the Communists. In November 1927 he received membership in the Military Aff"airs Commission at Nanking, and in December of that year he became president of the Central Military Academy. He was named director of the Military Aff"airs Commission's administrative department in January 1928. That April, during the final stage of the Northern Expedition, he served as director of Chiang Kai-shek's field headquarters and chief of staff of the First Army Group. After the successful completion of the Northern Expedition, he received an additional appointment in October as president of the Peiping Gendarmerie School.

Yang Chieh was a delegate to the Third National Congress of the Kuomintang in March 1929. He then became chief of staff in the field headquarters of the commander in chief (Chiang Kai-shek) of the land, sea, and air forces. In October, he took to the field as commander of the Tenth Army in a successful campaign against Feng Yü-hsiang. After the capture of Loyang from the rebel forces on 20 November, Yang also became director of Chiang Kai-shek's Loyang field headquarters, but he was forced to flee the area when T'ang Sheng-chih (q.v.) staged a revolt in December. In April 1930 Yang was appointed commander of the Yangtze River forts at Nanking, Chinkiang, Chenghai, and Woosung, with responsibility for the reorganization and reconstruction of the river fortifications from Woosung to Nanking. He returned to the field in May to lead the 2nd Artillery Corps against the socalled northern coalition of Feng Yü-hsiang and Yen Hsi-shan (q.v.). In the course of that campaign, which ended with the collapse of the northern coalition in September, Yang also served as chief of staff of Chiang Kai-shek's field headquarters. Yang became an alternate member of the Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang in 1931. He assumed office as president of the Chinese Army Staff College in January 1932 and retained that post until May 1938. In March 1933 he led the Eighth Army Group against the Japanese at the Great Wall, and in September 1933 he headed a military mission to Europe, returning to China in the autumn of 1934.

After carefully studying the battle doctrines of the Japanese and German armies, Yang Chieh endeavored to adapt those principles to Chinese conditions and to modernize the Staff College. Using his lectures at the college as a basis, he compiled such works as the Pao-lin ch'eng-yuan i-chien shu [book of thoughts on the retention of city walls], Chan-cheng chueh-yao [extracted essentials of warfare], Tsung-ssu-ling hsueh [the art of the commander in chief], and Sun Tzu chien-shih [a simple exposition of Suntzu]. These volumes demonstrated his brilliance as a military strategist.

On 18 December 1935 Yang Chieh was appointed deputy chief of the general staff, serving under Ch'eng Ch'ien. Also in 1935 Yang became a full member of the Kuomintang Central Executive Committee. In October 1937, after the Sino-Japanese war began, he headed a mission charged with negotiating a loan from the Soviet Union for the war effort. Yang encountered difficulties, and in March 1938 Sun Fo (q.v.), who had negotiated a previous loan agreement with the Soviet Union, arrived in Moscow to assist Yang. On 12 May 1938 Yang was appointed Chinese ambassador to the Soviet Union, replacing T. F. Tsiang (Chiang T'ing-fu, q.v.). Later that month, he signed the formal agreements covering both the first and second Soviet war loans to China. Sun Fo then returned home. A Sino-Soviet commercial treaty was signed at Moscow on 16 June 1939, but this time the documents were signed by Sun Fo rather than Yang Chieh. On 16 April 1940 the Executive Yuan appointed Shao Li-tzu (q.v.) to replace Yang as ambassador. Yang went to Paris and remained there for a time before proceeding to Chungking, the National Government's wartime capital. He received no substantive posts after his return to China. Yang lectured to the Central Training Corps and in 1942 wrote a book entitled Kuofang hsin-lun [new treatise on national defense]. In it he surveyed ancient and modern systems and theories of national defense and considered practical issues related to national defense in the then-current war. Early in 1944 Yang was appointed head of a five-man military observation group which went to London early in February and returned to Chungking at the end of the month. The only other appointment he received from the National Government came in 1946, when he was named to the Strategic Advisory Commission.

In 1949, after a brief trip to Yunnan, Yang Chieh went to Hong Kong, where he became a central executive committee member of the dissident Kuomintang Revolutionary Committee {see Li Chi-shen) . He accepted an invitation that summer to attend the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, which was to be held at Peiping to establish the People's Republic of China. Yang was waiting for transportation by ship from Hong Kong when, on 19 September 1949, he was assassinated, allegedly by a Kuomintang agent.

Biography in Chinese

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