Biography in English

Chao Heng-t'i (1880-), Hunanese general and governor of Hunan from 1921-26. As governor he attempted to put into practice the constitutionalist ideas of Liang Ch'i-ch'ao (q.v.). A native of Hengshan, Hunan, Chao Hengt'i was born into a fairly prosperous family. His father, Chao Tzu-ying, was a sheng-yuan and had a local reputation as an accomplished poet. After receiving his early education in the traditional subjects at home, Chao Heng-t'i was sent to study at the Wuchang language school. He then passed the government qualification examination for study abroad and went to Tokyo to enter the Shikan Gakko [military academy]. He became acquainted with two young anti- Manchu activists from Hunan, Huang Hsing and Ts'ai O (qq.v.), and on their recommendation he joined the T'ung-meng-hui in 1905. Returning to China in 1908, Chao went to Kwangsi, where he served under Ts'ai O, who was directing the training of army cadets. At the time of the Wuchang revolt in October 1911, Chao was ordered to lead a contingent of Kwangsi cadets and soldiers to fight under Huang Hsing in the Wuhan area.

After the establishment of the republic, Chao Heng-t'i worked in Hunan under the governor, T'an Yen-k'ai, to reorganize the Hunan army. When the so-called second revolution of 1913 failed, Chao was arrested by order of Yuan Shih-k'ai and was sent to Peking. Through the intercession of the vice president, Li Yuan-hung, however, he was released and was permitted to return to Hunan. There he served under T'an as commander of the 1st Division of the Hunan army, fighting in T'an's interest against Yuan Shih-k'ai's monarchical coup and against outside attempts to invade Hunan. After the anti-Yuan campaign of 1916, Ch'eng Ch'ien (q.v.), who had been away in Japan with Sun Yat-sen and in Yunnan with Ts'ai O and Li Lieh-chun, returned to Changsha to command the Hunan National Protection Army. Chao Heng-t'i and other local leaders, however, invited T'an Yen-k'ai, the former governor, to return to Hunan and assume control. In 1918 a military force sent into Hunan by the northern government at Peking effectively blocked Hunanese control. This resulted in the installation of Chang Ching-yao, a Peiyang general of the Anhwei faction, as provincial governor. After the downfall of Chang Ching-yao in 1920, Chao Heng-t'i in that winter became acting governor of Hunan. In April 1921 the provincial congress elected him governor. During the 1920's Chao became known as an active promoter of the lien-sheng tzu-chih, or federal government, movement in China. The application of the system to China had been suggested by Liang Ch'i-ch'ao (q.v.) about the turn of the century. The proponents of this idea held that the vast geographical extent of China and the wide differences among the provinces provided the framework for a system of federal government similar to that in France or the United States. The situation in China during the 1920's gave rise to renewed discussion of the prospects for federalism. If each province were to have the power to make its own constitution and to manage its domestic affairs, the argument ran, regional autonomy could prevent the abuse of power by the central government and internecine wars among the provinces. In Hunan the federal government movement had been initiated by T'an Yen-k'ai in July 1920. When he assumed control of the provincial government at Changsha, Chao Heng-t'i lost no time in making Hunan the spearhead of the movement. A draft constitution for the province, prepared by a committee of 1 3 experts, was then reexamined and revised by a meeting of 1 50 delegates elected from the various districts of the province. After other procedures, the provincial constitution of Hunan was promulgated on 1 January 1922. The constitution set forth a clear distinction between the rights of central and local government and provided for election of the provincial governor by popular vote of the citizens of the province, who were also to enjoy the rights of initiative, referendum, and impeachment. Influenced by Hunan's example, other provinces, including Chekiang, Kiangsu, Shensi, Kiangsi, Szechwan, Kwangtung, and Fukien, announced their intention to prepare constitutions. Some generals, notably Ch'en Chiung-ming and T'ang Chi-yao (qq.v.), supported the movement, as did a number of scholars and political figures, notably Chang T'ai-yen, Hsiung Hsi-ling, Liang Shih-i, and T'ang Shao-yi (qq.v.). In fact, however, Hunan was the sole province to enact or implement its own constitution.

Chao Heng-t'i's original interest in the federal government movement had been essentially practical, since he hoped that it would strengthen his position against invasion. Chao also hoped that the system would allay concern over the dangers of over-concentration of power in the hands of the national government, as had been the case under Yuan Shih-k'ai's regime. In fact, however, the results of the Hunan experiment were not gratifying. The people were not prepared to enjoy the rights and privileges provided by the constitution, and it had to be revised on 1 October 1924 to give more power to the governor. Nor was peace maintained in Hunan under Chao Heng-t'i's jurisdiction. Externally, the geographical position of Hunan made it impossible for Chao to keep that province divorced from the political and military conflict between north and south. The southern regime, based at Canton wished to control Hunan as a channel to the Wuhan cities and the middle Yangtze valley; the northern generals coveted the province for use as a passage toward Kwangtung and Kwangsi in the south and Szechwan in the west. Despite his own affiliation with the Kuomintang, Chao Heng-t'i was obliged to turn for support to Wu P'ei-fu (q.v.) in order to block the return of the forces of T'an Yen-k'ai and Ch'eng Ch'ien from Canton to their native Hunan. War between Chao Heng-t'i and T'an Yen-k'ai broke out in the summer of 1923, and, after sporadic fighting, Chao abandoned the capital, Changsha, on 1 September. After Wu P'ei-fu's supporting troops advanced from the north, Chao Heng-t'i emerged victorious and remained as provincial governor after the hostilities ended in November. T'ang Sheng-chih (q.v.) figured prominently in the 1923 operations, and Chao promoted him from brigade to divisional commander. In 1 924 Chao was drawn into the situation in Hupeh province, where he committed some of his Hunanese troops to an attempt to stabilize the situation. Taking advantage of that move, Wu P'ei-fu consolidated his foothold at Yochow, the gateway to Hunan, and forced Chao into a new alliance with him. Late in 1924, however, Wu P'ei-fu's position as the dominant military figure in north China was shattered as a result of the coup led by Wu's erstwhile subordinate, Feng Yü-hsiang (q.v.), and in March 1925 Chao invited Wu to take refuge at Yochow.

In Hunan itself, Chao Heng-t'i and his subordinate, T'ang Sheng-chih, came into conflict between 1924 and 1926. In March 1926 Chao was finally forced to yield his position as provincial governor to T'ang, who then played a key role in the ensuing campaigns of the Northern Expedition. Chao retired to live in Shanghai. The political program represented by the slogan, lien-sheng tzu-chih [federation of autonomous provinces], had helped him to remain master of Hunan province for five years, but the federal government movement had no lasting results. Chao Heng-t'i's rule in Hunan coincided with the notable growth of Communist activity and labor agitation in Hunan. Indeed, aspects of Chao's political rule have been recorded in the present official Communist versions of that party's history, notably because his repressive measures forced Mao Tse-tung, then an active Communist organizer, to flee Hunan twice, in April 1923 and again in June 1925.

Although Chao Heng-t'i's position as an active military figure ended in 1926, he remained prominent in Hunanese politics. In 1946, following the Japanese surrender, Chao emerged from retirement to be elected president of the Hunan provincial political council at Changsha. In 1949, after the breakdown of Kuomintang-Communist peace talks and the massive Nationalist defeat in the Hwai-Hai battle, Chao left Shanghai for Hong Kong. Although never clo^e to Chiang Kai-shek, he later went to Taiwan, where he lived quietly in straitened circumstances. Chao Heng-t'i's younger brother, Chao Chünmai, attended Tsinghua College and continued his studies in the United States after graduation. He later served as mayor of Hengyang in his native Hunan province and, after the Japanese surrender in 1945, as mayor of Changchun in the northeast. He then directed the fisheries management bureau in Shanghai. Chao Hengt'i had four sons: one went to live in Taiwan, two on the mainland of China, and one in the United States.

Biography in Chinese

字:彝五、夷午 号:炎午


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