Li Jishen (simplified Chinese: 李济深; traditional Chinese: 李濟深; pinyin: Lǐ Jìshēn; 5 November 1885 – 9 October 1959) was a Chinese military commander and statesman. He served as commander of the Fourth Army of the Republic of China, governor of Guangdong, military affairs commissioner, and acting president of the Whampoa Military Academy. After opposing Chiang Kai-shek and being expelled from the Kuomintang in 1947, he became one of the six Vice Chairmen of the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China with that government's founding on October 1, 1949.
Li was born into a scholar-gentry family in Cangwu County, Wuzhou, Guangxi in 1886. His mother died when he was four years old. In 1903, Li enrolled at Wuzhou Middle School, where he studied under the right wing Kuomintang leader Hu Hanmin. In 1904, he transferred to the Liangguang Military Middle School in Guangdong, and three years later was selected for advanced study at the Officers Military Academy in Beijing. He interrupted his studies after the Wuchang revolt of October 1911 to serve as chief of staff of the 22nd division of the revolutionary army in Jiangsu. After the establishment of the Republic of China, Li completed his education and remained at the academy, now called the Military Staff College.
Li returned to Guangdong in 1921 at the invitation of Guangdong Army chief of staff Deng Keng. Deng was assassinated in March 1922, and Chen Jiongming staged a coup in June of that year, which Li helped to put down. For this, he received command of the army's 1st Division.
In 1924, after serving briefly as commissioner of reconstruction of the West River-Wuzhou area and as Wuzhou garrison commandor, Li became deputy dean of the newly established Whampoa Military Academy under Chiang Kai-shek. After Sun Yat-sen's death in March 1925, the Guangdong government was reorganized as the National Government, and Li was appointed commander of the Fourth Army, which had formerly been the Guangdong Army. He spent the next year destroying Chen Jiongming's remaining power.
When the Northern Expedition began in July 1926, Li's Fourth Army joined the push northward. During this time, Li also served as governor of Guangdong, military affairs commissioner, and acting president of the Whampoa Military Academy. In 1927, he was elected to the Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang. In November 1927, Li left Guangdong with Wang Jingwei to attend a plenary session of the Committee in Shanghai on the subject of restoring party unity. In his absence, Zhang Fakui staged a coup. Forces loyal to Li forced Zhang to surrender, and Li returned to Guangdong on 4 January 1928.
On 7 February 1928, Li was made a member of the standing committee of the Military Affairs Commission. He was also made commander in chief of the newly established Eighth Route Army. On 1 March, Li became chairman of the Guangdong branch political council of the Kuomintang, and on 30 March he was made chief of the general staff of the Northern Expedition. During the remainder of the year, Li attended meetings in Beijing, and briefly served as acting commander in chief of the Nationalist forces when Chiang Kai-shek left Beijing for Nanjing. He was appointed to the State Council on 8 October and resigned as governor of Guangdong in November.
Sino-Japanese war and the Revolutionary Committee of the Kuomintang
In 1929, Li traveled to Nanjing to attend the Third National Congress and mediate a dispute that had arisen between the Nationalist government and the New Guangxi clique. However, talks broke down in March, the members of the clique were expelled from the Kuomintang, and Li was placed in detention. He was not freed until after the Japanese attack on Mukden in 1931.
Li did not have significant political power until 1933, when he joined with Chen Mingshu to launch a revolt in Fujian. Li was made chairman of the people's revolutionary government at Fuzhou, but the revolt was quickly suppressed, and Li was forced to flee to Hong Kong in January 1934.
In 1935, Li joined with associates to found the Chinese People's Revolutionary League, which advocated resistance against Japan and overthrow of the Nationalist government. In 1936, Li participated in a joint Guangdong-Guangxi revolt against the government, but after it collapsed, Li returned to Hong Kong. The order for his arrest was rescinded.
In 1938, Li was restored to membership in the Kuomintang, and again became a member of the Military Affairs Commission and the State Council. During the Sino-Japanese War, Li served in several military posts. In 1944, he was appointed president of the Military Advisory Council, but instead worked to consolidate resistance against Japan in southern Guangxi. At the Sixth National Congress of the Kuomintang in May 1945, Li was elected to the Central Supervisory Committee of the Kuomintang, and served as a delegate to the National Assembly the following year.
On 8 March 1947, Li issued a statement calling for reconciliation between the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party. For this, he was again expelled from the Kuomintang for making unwarranted statements and inciting the people to riot. Li began working to unite current and former Kuomintang members who opposed National government policies. This led to the formation of the Revolutionary Committee of the Kuomintang in 1948, with Li as its first chairman.
People's Republic of China
Li left Hong Kong in early 1949 and traveled north to Beiping, where he assisted in the preparatory work for the founding of the People's Republic of China. After the inauguration of the new government, Li became one of its six vice-chairmen, as well as Vice-President of the Sino-Soviet Friendship Association. In January 1953, Li became a member of the committee assigned to draft the first constitution of the People's Republic. He served as a delegate to the National People's Congress (NPC) in 1954. The new constitution reduced the number of vice-chairmen from six to two, so Li gave up his post and became a vice Vice Chair of the NPC Standing Committee. Li continued to hold posts in the government until his death on 9 October 1959 in Beijing due to stomach cancer and a cerebral thrombosis.
Li married several times and had many children. One of his sons became dean of the agricultural college of Lingnan University during the 1940s. Another son, Li Peiyao, became Chairman of the National Revolutionary Committee of the Kuomintang in the 1990s. Three of his daughters were students at Yenching University in 1950.
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