Sun Li-jen

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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Sun.
Sun Li-jen
孫立人
Sun Liren.jpg
Sun Li-jen
Nickname(s) "Rommel of the East"
Born (1900-12-08)December 8, 1900
Jinnu, Lujiang, Chaohu, Anhui
Died November 19, 1990(1990-11-19) (aged 89)
Taichung, Taiwan
Allegiance  Republic of China
Service/branch Republic of China Army Flag.svg National Revolutionary Army
Years of service 1927–1955
Rank General Second Class rank insignia (ROC).jpgGeneral Second Class
Commands held Tax Police Regiment
New 38th Division
200th Division
New First Army
Republic of China Army
Battles/wars
Awards

Order of the Cloud and Banner 4th.gifOrder of the Cloud and Banner with Special Cravat
Order of the British Empire military ribbon.gifKnight Commander, Order of the British Empire (U.K.)
Us legion of merit officer rib.pngOfficer, Legion of Merit (U.S.)

Order of Blue Sky and White Sun with Grand Cordon ribbon.png Order of Blue Sky and White Sun
Other work Politician

Sun Li-jen (traditional Chinese: 孫立人; simplified Chinese: 孙立人; pinyin: Sūn Lìrén) (December 8, 1900–November 19, 1990) was a Kuomintang (KMT) General, best known for his leadership in the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War. His achievements earned him the laudatory nickname "Rommel of the East". His New 1st Army was reputed as the "1st [Best] Army under heaven" and credited with defeating the most Japanese troops. He was also known as Sun Chung-neng (孫仲能, Sūn Zhòngnéng) and had the courtesy name Sun Fu-min (孫撫民, Sūn Fǔmín).

Early life[edit]

Sun Li-jen was born in Jinnu, Lujiang, Chaohu, Anhui, with ancestry in Shucheng County. During the May Fourth Movement, he was part of the Scouts in the march at Tiananmen Square. In the same year (1919) he married Gong Xitao (龔夕濤) and was admitted in 1920 to Tsinghua University to study civil engineering. Sun played basketball at Tsinghua, becoming a star. He led the Chinese team to a gold medal at the 1921 Far Eastern Championship Games. [1]

With a Boxer Indemnity Scholarship, he transferred to Purdue University in the United States to complete his senior year in 1923, where he graduated in 1924. But in the United States, ideological zeal motivated him to dramatically change vocations and pursue a military career instead. China was in the middle of civil war, and Soviet and Japanese invaders seemed poised to devour China. Sun decided that he could better serve his divided nation as a soldier rather than an engineer.

He applied to the Virginia Military Institute, also in the United States, lying about his age by four years so that he would appear young enough to meet the school's admissions requirements. He graduated from VMI in 1927 and joined the Nationalist Army's Finance Department headed by Minister T. V. Soong. During the Second Sino-Japanese War and the later Chinese Civil War in Northwest China, Sun Li-jen became a highly effective field officer and valued military general to the KMT.

Second Sino-Japanese War[edit]

Sun Liren and Allied Commander Mountbatten.

Sun was a colonel and led his troops, a Tax Police Regiment, fighting Japanese during the Battle of Shanghai in 1937. He was badly wounded by mine fragments. After recovery from his injury, Sun led his troops back to the front line. Later, the Nationalist government formed National Salt Gabelle Brigade with 8 regiments. These were the KMT's best trained and equipped troops. Four of the regiments later became the New 38th Division, with Sun as the Commanding General. His training center was located in Duyun, in Guizhou province.

After two years training, Sun's New 38th Division was part of the forces Chiang Kai-shek sent into Burma to protect the Burma Road under General Du Yuming. Sun led Chinese forces to the relief of 7,000 British forces trapped by the Japanese in the Battle of Yenangyaung. Although unable to stop the Japanese from cutting the Burma Road, Sun gained the respect of General William Slim, the Commander of the British 14th Army, for his competence. Sun and his division retreated into India, while those of Du, against Sun's advice, retreated back into China and were badly mauled both by nature and by the Japanese.

Sun's troops ultimately became a part of 'X Force', the Chinese forces under the command of Joseph Stilwell, the American commander of all American and Chinese forces deployed in the "China Burma India Theater". Sun's division, retrained and reequipped in India, solidified Stillwell's respect for the Chinese soldier, and ultimately spearheaded Stilwell's 1943 drive to reconquer North Burma and re-establish the land route to China by the Ledo Road.

In Taiwan[edit]

Sun Liren and Lin Wang

As the commander of the Army Training Command and deputy commander of the Republic of China Army in 1947, Sun moved one training facility to Taiwan, independent from the on-going civil war. Sun trained new officers and troops for the Nationalist government, hoping to change the tide of the civil war. The effort was too little, too late in comparison with the massive numbers of troops defeated, but one of the divisions he trained (201 Division of the 80th Army) was sent to Quemoy to help fend off the communist invasion in 1949. It was the front line defense force.

Later in 1950, Sun was named the Commander in Chief of the Republic of China Army, while also serving as commander of the Taiwan Defense Command and the Army Training Command. Because Sun was well respected by the Americans and rumors had it that the Americans would like to help him into power to replace Chiang Kai-Shek, Chiang and his son Chiang Ching-kuo were eager to remove him from power.

First, Sun was reassigned as the ceremonial chief military adviser to Chiang Kai-Shek in June 1954, preventing him from directly controlling any troops. In 1950, Chiang's son became director of his father's secret police, a position he held until 1965.[1] The son, educated in the Soviet Union, initiated Soviet style military organization in the Republic of China military, reorganizing and Sovietizing the officer corps, instituting surveillance. Opposed to this was Sun Li-jen, who was educated at the American Virginia Military Institute.[2] Chiang's son orchestrated the controversial arrest and court-martial of Sun in August 1955, allegedly for plotting a coup d'état with the American CIA against his father. The CIA allegedly wanted to help Sun take control of Taiwan and declare its independence.[3][4] Sun remained under house arrest for more than three decades: he was not released until March 20, 1988, shortly after the death of Chiang Ching-kuo.

Sun died in his Taichung home at the age of 89 (91 according to the Chinese calendar). His funeral was attended with full military honors and with the presence of the Secretary of Defense. His reputation was cleared in 2001 after a government investigation into the purported coup attempt. In January 2011, President Ma Ying-jeou formally apologized to Sun Li-jen's family and Sun's house in Taichung was opened as a memorial hall and museum.[5] General Sun is survived by his two sons Sun Tien-ping (孫天平) and Sun Ane-pin (孫安平), daughters Sun Chung-ping (孫中平) and Sun Tai-ping (孫太平), and sister Sun Pi-jen (孫璧人).[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Peter R. Moody (1977). Opposition and dissent in contemporary China. Hoover Press. p. 302. ISBN 0-8179-6771-0. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  2. ^ Jay Taylor (2000). The Generalissimo's son: Chiang Ching-kuo and the revolutions in China and Taiwan. Harvard University Press. p. 195. ISBN 0-674-00287-3. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  3. ^ Peter R. Moody (1977). Opposition and dissent in contemporary China. Hoover Press. p. 302. ISBN 0-8179-6771-0. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  4. ^ Nançy Bernkopf Tucker (1983). Patterns in the dust: Chinese-American relations and the recognition controversy, 1949-1950. Columbia University Press. p. 181. ISBN 0-231-05362-2. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  5. ^ Belated justice for Taiwanese war hero. Jan 23, 2011
  6. ^ Ma visit to war hero's former residence stirs gratitude, regret. The China Post. January 23, 2011

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