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Chen Yi file photo [23568]

Chen Yi

Given NameYi
Died18 Jun 1950


ww2dbaseChen Yi, courtesy name Gongxia and Gongqia, was born in 1883 in Shaoxing, Zhejian, China. He studied at a military academy in Japan between 1902 and 1909, returned in China to participate in the revolution that overthrew the Qing Dynasty, and returned to Japan once again to complete his studies between 1917 and 1920. Returning to Zhejiang in 1920, he entered politics, was elected senator, and became the governor in Oct 1925. As the governor, he was also the leader of the Nationalist 19th Route Army based in the province. From that point on, he assumed a dual-role in both military and civilian branches of the Nationalist government. By 1933, he was named the Secretary General of the Executive Yuan.

ww2dbaseIn 1935, Chen was sent to Taiwan by Chiang Kaishek to evaluate the Japanese-occupied Chinese province. He submitted a report praising Japanese infrastructure development in Taiwan and a high standard of living in Taiwan when compared to fellow Chinese citizens at the mainland. With this expedition, he became the Nationalist Party's foremost expert on the island province, and surprised few when he was named Taiwan's governor general. In his early days as the governor general of Taiwan, when working with the former Japanese occupation administrators, he refused to speak the Japanese language even though he was fluent in that language; he had refused to use the language of the defeated.

ww2dbaseOn 25 Oct 1945, Chen was China's representative at the Japanese surrender ceremony in Taiwan. As Taiwan's governor general, however, his governorship was controversial. His administration was known for rampant corruption, and the discontent among the Taiwanese was widespread. The discontent flared into the 228 Incident on 28 Feb 1947 where an accidental killing of an innocent Taiwanese citizen by a policeman led to the gathering of an angry mob of protesters, which became a general uprising quickly. Chen dealt with it by deploying his police and military personnel in Taiwan and calling for reinforcements from the mainland (the 21st Division landed at Keelung on 8 Mar). During the subsequent weeks, the police and the military systematically rounded up Taiwanese, whether activist or not. Thousands were executed; many were innocent. Chen was dismissed by Chiang to appease pressure asserted both domestically and internationally, but the damage to the relationship between Taiwanese and the mainlanders was already done.

ww2dbaseAfter some time as a private consultant, Chen became the provincial chairman of Zhejian Province. In Nov 1948, he pardoned over one hundred Communists scheduled to be executed, which brought suspicion upon him amidst the Chinese Civil War. In Jan 1949, Chen's subordinate Tang Enbo alleged Chen of trying to recruit him in an effort to rebel against the Nationalist government. Chen was relieved of his position by Chiang immediately and was transported to Taiwan for imprisonment. He was executed for the crime of treason in Taipei in 1950.

David P. Chandler, Robert Cribb, and Li Narangoa, End of Empire

Last Major Revision: Oct 2006

Chen Yi Interactive Map


Group portrait of Army reorganization conference attendees, China, 25 Jan 1929Portrait of Chen Yi, 1940s
See all 4 photographs of Chen Yi

Chen Yi Timeline

29 Aug 1945 Chiang Kaishek appointed Chen Yi as the Governor General of Taiwan Province, Republic of China.
18 Jun 1950 Yi Chen was executed for the crime of treason in Taipei, Taiwan Province, Republic of China.

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