Sun Chuanfang

Sun Chuanfang
Born (1885-04-17)April 17, 1885
Licheng, Shandong, China
Died November 13, 1935(1935-11-13) (aged 50)
Tianjin, China
Nationality Han Chinese
Occupation Warlord
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Sun.

Sun Chuanfang (simplified Chinese: 孙传芳; traditional Chinese: 孫傳芳; pinyin: Sūn Chuánfāng; Wade–Giles: Sun Ch'uan-fang) (April 17, 1885 November 13, 1935) aka the "Nanking Warlord" or leader of the "League of Five Provinces" was a Zhili clique warlord and protégé of the "Jade Marshal" Wu Peifu (1874–1939).[1]


Sun Chuanfang was born in Licheng, Shandong Province. Educated in Baoding Military Academy in 1904, he was sent to Japan for more education at the Tokyo Shimbu Gakko, a military preparatory school. He continued on in Japan to graduate from the 6th class of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy, and returned to China in 1909. Upon his return he joined the Beiyang Army and later was recruited by Wang Zhanyuan to join the Zhili clique following the Xinhai Revolution, rising quickly through the ranks.[2] Sun became the military governor of Fujian on 20 March 1923. He was based in Hubei Province, and fought in the Zhili–Anhui War of 1920. In 1924, at the beginning of the First Jiangsu-Zhejiang War, Sun commanded the 4th Army in Fujian Province. One of his first acts was to support his ally Qi Xieyuan, moving up from the south in a move that was responsible for the defeat of rival warlord Lu Yongxiang and the capture of Shanghai. He was subsequently rewarded with the military governorship of Zhejiang (20 September 1924 - 19 December 1926). However his Zhili allies in the north were defeated during the Second Zhili–Fengtian War, ending with the Zhili clique losing all of its northern provinces to Zhang Zuolin and Feng Yuxiang's Guominjun. In 1925 the Guominjun launched a joint Anhui-Fengtian expedition under Zhang Zongchang which briefly retook Jiangsu and Shanghai in January. Lacking support from Sun Chuanfang, Qi Xieyuan was forced to resign and fled to Japan, but not before transferring what remained of his demoralised and heavily diminished army to Sun Chuanfang's command.

Zhang Zongchang and Sun Chuanfang were now staring at each other over a battle-line delineated only by Shanghai proper. For the remainder of the year the two opposing generals bided their time. Then, in the fall of 1925, the chance came: Sun launched a counterattack that drove Zhang Zongchang and his forces out of the Chinese districts of Shanghai. For the next two years Sun expanded his rule to include all of Jiangsu, Fujian, Anhui, and Jiangxi. He established his headquarters in Nanjing as military governor of Jiangsu on 25 November 1925.[3]

The Northern Expedition ended his rule. Shanghai was captured by the National Revolutionary Army in March 1927 and Sun was forced to flee Nanjing. After repeated defeats which caused great attrition to his forces, he sought the support briefly of Zhang Xueliang, but distrusting Zhang’s motives, he then fled to Dalian in the Japanese Kwantung Leased Territory. After the Manchurian Incident of 1931, Sun relocated to the English concession in Tianjin, where he took the tonsure and announced his retirement from worldly affairs in favor of becoming a Buddhist monk.

However, on 13 November 1935 Sun was assassinated in Tianjin by the daughter of the officer Shi Congbin, who ten years earlier had been commanding units in Shandong when in October 1925, during the second war between the Zhili and Fengtian cliques, Shi Congbin had been captured by Sun Chuanfang, who had had him summarily decapitated and his head mounted on a pike. The daughter's name was Shi Jianqiao. She was later pardoned by the Kuomintang government.

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