Chen Yi (1893-1950)

Photograph of Chen Yi
Wikimedia Commons

Chen Yi was born in Chekiang province, was a 1907 graduate of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy and 1916 graduate of the Japanese Army Staff College, and had married a Japanese woman. He was a lieutenant in the warlord army of Sung Chuan-fang in 1927 but defected to the Kuomintang and became a protégé of Chiang Kai-shek. Rewarded with a series of political postings, he was the governor of Fukien province in 1934 when Chiang ordered 19 Route Army, which had fought well against the Japanese at Shanghai, disbanded because he distrusted its commanders. The army took to the hills but was hunted down by Chen's forces, allegedly with Japanese assistance. In 1935 Chen Yi was the guest of the Japanese at a celebration in Formosa of 40 years of Japanese rule there. This qualified him as an "expert" on Taiwan in Chiang's eyes, with unfortunate consequences years later.

Chen continued to promote economic ties with Japan even after the beginning of the China Incident in 1937. When the Japanese occupied Foochow in 1942, Chen allegedly was granted safe passage out of the city by the Japanese. His administration there had been characterized by promotion of government business monopolies (as "Necessary State Socialism"), corruption, and brutal suppression of dissent, a pattern not uncommon among the Kuomintang.

Chen likely commanded 25 Army Group when war broke out in the Pacific. 

On 24 October 1945, Chen was appointed as military governor of Taiwan, which was upsetting to a population that had hoped for Chinese provincial status. Chen aggravated the situation with his corruption and arrogance. He refused to speak anything but Mandarin, unfamiliar to many Taiwanese who had grown up under Japanese rule, even though he was fluent in Japanese. Most of Chen's political officials and police were from the mainland. An incident on 27 February 1947 in which an official abused a widowed peddler and shot a bystander triggered a rebellion. The rebellion was brutally suppressed but led to Chen's dismissal on 28 March 1948.

in January 1949, Chen appeared to be negotiating with the Communists to defect in return for retaining a high position in Chekiang. Chiang had him arrested and imprisoned, ironically, on Taiwan. Chiang was executed by firing squad in June 1950.

Service record



Japanese Army Staff College

Governor, Chekiang Province

Vice-minister of war

Chairman, Fukien Province

Director, Fukien Pacification Headquarters
Commander, 25 Army Group

Secretary-general, Party and Government Work Evaluation Committee

Acting commandant, Staff College

Director, Central Training Institute

Governor-general, Taiwan

Chairman, Chekiang Province

Arrested for treason


References (accessed 2008-5-6)

Roy (2002; accessed 2013-12-25)
Tong (1947)

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