Zhou Zhirou

Name in Chinese
Name in Wade-Giles
Chou Chih-jou
Related People

Biography in English

Chou Chih-jou ( 1899—), military officer important in the development of the Chinese Air Force. He was commandant of the Central Aviation Academy in 1934, chairman of the Aeronautical Affairs Commission in 1936, and chief of staff of the Chinese Air Force 1943-52. After serving as chief of general staff 1950-57, he became governor of Taiwan. In 1962 he was appointed personal chief of staff to Chiang Kai-shek.

Born at Tung-teng-chen, Linhai hsien, Chekiang, Chou Chih-jou was the second of three sons and had one sister. His father, Chou Tzu-shan, who died when Chou was 12, held the first military degree under the Ch'ing government and operated an herb-medicine shop; his mother's name was Hou. After being graduated from the local primary school and from the Chekiang Sixth Middle School at Linhai, Chou went to north China in 1919 to enroll in the Paoting Military Academy. He was graduated from the infantry course at Paoting in 1922 in the eighth class, which also included Ch'en Ch'eng (q.v.) and Lo Cho-ying. From 1922 to 1924 Chou served as a second lieutenant in training with the 2nd Division, stationed in Chekiang. In 1924 he went to Canton. There he was involved in a local incident and changed his name to Chou Chihjou from Chou Pai-fu. In 1925 he joined the military unit headed by Ch'en Ch'eng, who commanded an artillery battalion in the first eastern expedition against Ch'en Chiung-ming (q.v.) in early 1925. Chou participated in that expedition, and in 1925 he became an instructor at the Whampoa Military Academy, where he served under Chiang Kai-shek.

In the Northern Expedition, launched in July 1926, Chou first served as executive officer of the 63rd (reserve) Regiment, 21st Division. In 1927-28, he commanded that regiment. When the national military forces were reorganized after the overthrow of the Peking government in June 1928, Chou was made director of the administrative office for the upper Yangtze region, under the military and political bureau of the Military Affairs Commission. In 1930, with the outbreak of the war against the so-called northern coalition (see Yen Hsi-shan) he was appointed chief of staff of the 11th Division; soon afterward, he became commander of its 33rd Brigade.

In 1931, after participating in the third Nationalist military campaign against the Chinese Communists based in Kiangsi, Chou was made deputy commander of the 14th Division under Ch'en Ch'eng; at the end of 1932, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and was given command of that division. The Eighteenth Army, commanded by Ch'en Ch'eng, then was divided into three columns. Chou's division was assigned to the column commanded by Wu Ch'i-wei, and Chou held the concurrent position of deputy column commander. One of the other columns was commanded by his old classmate Lo Cho-ying. Chou then became deputy commander of the Eighteenth Army. However, he had disputes with Cantonese officers in the Eighteenth Army command, and with Lo Cho-ying in particular. Moreover, his force met defeat in the fifth campaign against the Communists, which began in 1933. He was relieved of his command and was sent abroad in 1933 on an inspection tour to study foreign methods of teaching military aviation. He visited Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany, and the United States to survey military aviation schools, airfields, and airplane factories.

After returning to China in 1934 Chou Chihjou became commandant of the Central Aviation Academy, located near Hangchow. The Japanese had established the new state of Manchoukuo in 1932 and were advancing into north China. The National Government began to build up the Chinese Air Force. In July 1936 the entire Canton air force of Ch'en Chi-t'ang (q.v.) defected to the Nationalist side, thus increasing the number of both men and planes in the Chinese Air Force. Later that year, Chou Chih-jou was made the director of the Aeronautical Affairs Commission, and the program for the development of air power in China was expanded. The Italian government sent an advisory group to China to assist in the training of Chinese pilots and to sell Italian planes to the National Government. However, after Lieutenant Colonel Claire L. Chennault retired from the United States Army (air corps) to offer his services as a flying instructor to the Chinese Aviation Academy, the Aeronautical Affairs Commission decided to use, for the most part, British and American planes.

After the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war in July 1937, Chou Chih-jou was made commanding officer of the advance headquarters of the Chinese Air Force. Madame Chiang Kai-shek (Soong Mei-ling, q.v.) became secretary general of the Aeronautical Affairs Commission and held that post until 1938. Starting with the bombing of the Hangchow air base on 14 August 1937, the Japanese soon destroyed the Chinese Air Force. In 1938 Chou was appointed commandant of the Central Air Force Academy at Kunming. From 1938 to 1940, the Soviet Union supplied China with planes, spare parts, aviation fuel, and "volunteer" pilots to continue the air war against the Japanese. In 1941, Chou again became the director of the Aeronautical Affairs Commission, then located at Chungking. He retained that post until the Japanese surrender in 1945. In 1940, Chou also received command of the Air Staff College, which he directed until 1941. In addition, he served as the director of the first department of Chiang Kai-shek's attendance office. In November 1940, Mao Pang-ch'u, director of the operations division of the Chinese Air Force, accompanied by Colonel Chennault, went to the United States with the mission of obtaining 500 fighter aircraft —complete with American crews. From that mission, China obtained a loan of US$100 million, which it used to purchase 100 P-40s. After the Lend- Lease Act was signed in March 1941, China requested 1,000 aircraft. When the United States entered the War in the Pacific in December 1941, the military group around Chiang Kai-shek and his wife, including Chennault, Chou Chih-jou, and Mao Pang-ch'u, began to compete with the military ground-force group supported by Lieutenant General Joseph W. Stilwell for the American military supplies being flown into China from India. In 1943 Colonel Chennault was made chief of staff of the Chinese Air Force. Mao Pang-ch'u became deputy director of the Aeronautical Affairs Chou En-lai Commission under Chou Chih-jou. In November of that year, Chou accompanied Chiang Kai-shek to the Cairo Conference as an adviser. Under the direction of Chou, Mao, and Chennault, approximately 10,000 men were trained, in various technical categories, at the Air Force Academy (which was moved in 1942 from Kunming to Lahore, India) and in the United States. Ambitious plans were made for the establishment, after the war, of a national aviation industry in China. In May 1945 Chou was elected a member of the Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang.

In June 1946 the Aeronautical Affairs Commission was reorganized as the Headquarters of the Commanding General of the Chinese Air Force, and Chou Chih-jou received the commander's post. Mao Pang-ch'u was appointed his deputy. Chou worked to establish a permanent system of organization, training, and supply for the Chinese Air Force. Chou Chihjou held that position throughout the civil war, during which the Chinese Air Force proved ineffective in the fight against the highly mobile Communists, who possessed no air power. In 1949 Chou handled the retreat of the Chinese Air Force and its personnel, including families, to the island of Taiwan. In 1950, after the National Government and large numbers of ground forces had gone to Taiwan, Chou was given the concurrent post of chief of general staff of the Chinese Armed Forces. In Taiwan he became director of the party affairs reorganization committee of the Chinese Air Force in 1950. In 1952, he was elected a member of the standing committee of the Kuomintang Central Committee, which had replaced the Central Executive Committee.

In 1952, because of the increasing weight of his duties as chief of general staff of the Chinese Armed Forces, he relinquished command of the Chinese Air Force. After the outbreak of the Korean war in June 1950 and the stationing of the United States 7th Fleet in the Taiwan Strait, the United States in May 1951 had resumed its program of aid to the Chinese Nationalists. As chief of general staff, Chou Chih-jou coordinated the allocation of American military aid to the Chinese armed services in Taiwan and laid the basis for the new Nationalist Army charged with the mission of recovering the mainland. In 1957, in his capacity as chief of general staff of the Chinese Armed Forces, Chou Chih-jou visited the United States at the invitation of the Department of Defense to inspect military installations. He became governor of the province of Taiwan in August 1957, with the concurrent post of commander of the island's peace preservation headquarters. In May-June 1961, he visited the United States at the invitation of the Department of State. He was succeeded as governor of Taiwan in November 1962 by Huang Chieh (1903-), another veteran Nationalist general, a Whampoa graduate who had previously been commander of the Taiwan Garrison Command. Chou Chih-jou then became personal chief of staff to Chiang Kai-shek.

Chou married Wang Ch'ing-lien, and they had two children. Their daughter died at an early age. Their son, Chou I-hsi, studied in the United States from 1949 to 1957 and later worked in a textile company in Taiwan.

Biography in Chinese


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