Wang Xiaojie (王孝傑) (died February 8, 697), formally the Duke of Geng (耿公), was a general of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving in campaigns against Tufan, Eastern Tujue, and Khitan and briefly serving as chancellor during Wu Zetian's reign. He was killed in 697 in a battle against Khitan's khan Sun Wanrong.
During Emperor Gaozong's reign
It is not known when Wang Xiaojie was born, but it is known that his family was from the vicinity of Tang Dynasty's capital Chang'an. He was said to have had a successful military career during the reign of Emperor Gaozong. In 678, he served under the general Liu Shenli (劉審禮), the assistant to the chancellor Li Jingxuan in a campaign against Tufan. Li's army suffered a great defeat at the hands of the Tufan general Lun Qinling (論欽陵), and both Liu and Wang were captured by Lun Qinling. When Wang was presented to the Mangsong Mangtsen, the king of Tufan, Mangsong Mangtsen was surprised by Wang's appearance and stated, "Your appearance is like my father's," and began to weep. As a result, he spared Wang and treated him well, finally returning him to Tang. After returning to Tang, Wang continued to serve as a general.
During Wu Zetian's reign
- 692's Campaign against Tufan
As of 692, Emperor Gaozong's wife Wu Zetian was reigning. At that time, the general Tang Xiujing, who was then the commandant at Xi Prefecture (西州, roughly modern Turfan Prefecture, Xinjiang), was requested that an army be launched to recover four garrisons that had fallen to Tufan in 670 -- Qiuzi, Yutian, Shule, and Suiye. Because Wang had lived in Tufan for some time, he was considered knowledgeable about Tufan, and Wu Zetian commissioned him to command the army against Tufan, assisted by the general Ashina Zhongjie (阿史那忠節). In winter 692, Wang defeated Tufan forces and recaptured the four garrisons.
- Far West, Tufan and Tujue
In 694, Wang again achieved victories near Qinghai Lake against Tufan's general Bolun Zanren (勃論贊刃) and Western Tujue's Shixing Khan Ashina Tuizi (阿史那俀子). He was soon made the minister of defense (夏官尚書, Xiaguan Shangshu) and given the designation Tong Fengge Luantai Sanpin (同鳳閣鸞臺三品). While serving as chancellor, he was also then commissioned to command an army against Eastern Tujue, formally under the command of Wu Zetian's lover Huaiyi, but did not appear to actually engage the Eastern Tujue forces. He was again commissioned to attack Eastern Tujue in 695, but when Tufan attacked later that year, he was commissioned to attack Tufan instead. In 696, when he and fellow chancellor Lou Shide engaged Tufan forces, however, they were defeated by Lun Qinling and Lun Qinling's brother Lun Zanpo (論贊婆). Lou was demoted, while Wang was reduced to commoner rank.
- Li-Sun rebellion (696-697) and death
Later that year, however, there was a major Khitan rebellion under Li Jinzhong, who died later that year and was succeeded by his brother-in-law Sun Wanrong. In 697, with Khitan forces penetrating deep into Zhou territory, Wu Zetian commissioned Wang to be the acting commander of an army against Khitan, assisted by Su Honghui (蘇宏暉), commanding some 170,000 men. In spring 697, Wang engaged Sun at East Xiashi Valley (東硤石谷, in modern Tangshan, Hebei). Wang himself commanded the forward troops and had initial successes, but as he fought near a cliff, Khitan forces counterattacked, and Su Honghui fled. Wang fell off the cliff and died, and the army suffered heavy losses. Wang's secretary Zhang Shuo reported back to Wu Zetian in Luoyang (now capital) and stated, "Wang Xiaojie was brave and willing to fight to the death. He faithfully served the empire, fought into enemy territory, and fought many with few. But he had no backup, and so he was defeated." Wu Zetian posthumously honored Wang as the minister of defense and created him the Duke of Geng. She also ordered that Su Honghui be put to death, although before her emissaries arrived, Su had won other battles, and was spared the death penalty. Wang's son Wang Wuze (王無擇) later served as a general during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong.