Yan Xishan on the cover of Time

From the end of the Qing Dynasty to the eve of liberation, various warlords and politicians “sang your praises and made my debut” on the Chinese soil. Among the many short-lived warlords, there is such a powerful faction who has been in charge of Shanxi for 38 years and has always stood firm. He is Yan Xishan.

Born in poverty, young and old

It is said that Yan Jiazu settled in Hebian village, Wutai County (now Riverside Town, Dingxiang County) in the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. The Yan family has been farming and working here for several generations, and it is hard to get rid of poverty. Even the names of all generations have not been left behind. It was not until Yan Xishan’s rise that his father Yan Shutang invited a juren from Wutai Mountain and shook his head to repair Yan’s family tree.

In the newly written Yan family spectrum, the first generation is Yan cuncheng. Second and third generations: unknown name. The fourth generation: Yan Heyi. The fifth generation: Yan Jinxiu, Yan Jinfang and Yan Jinmei. The sixth generation: Yan Jinxiu is composed of Yan Antai and Yan Xingtai. The seventh generation: Yan xingtai is composed of Yan tengyun and Yan Qingyun. The eighth generation: Yan Qingyun is the Yan Shu Tang and Yan Shu Dian. Yen Hsi-shan is the ninth generation.

The Yan family began to prosper from the sixth generation Yan xingtai. Yan Xingtai was very clever. He went to a private school. When he was 18, he came to Guangwu Town in Shanyin County and entered a grain store. Because he was diligent and literate, he took only 4 months to take part in clerical work and was later promoted to the position of shopkeeper. At the age of 38, Yan Xingtai returned to Hebian village seriously ill and died at the age of 41. By the time Yan Xishan’s grandfather Yan Qingyun arrived, the Yan family had 50 to 60 mu of land, a mule, a tenant farmer, and a small business and usury. The 8th generation Yan Shutang (father of Yan Xishan) is also very clever, likes fortune-telling, is good at observing changes with time, and has also opened a “Ji Qingchang” bank in the county seat.

On October 8, 1883, Yan Xishan, the eldest son of Yan Shutang, was born and named Wanxi. When Wanxi was 5 years old, his biological mother died of illness. After her stepmother entered the house, she sent him to her grandmother’s foster care. Wan Xi went to school at the age of 9, but he liked doing business and didn’t like reading. At 16, he decided to start a business as an apprentice in his father’s bank.

Wan Xi liked the students and did it with relish. Unfortunately, it did not last long. In 1900, the Eight-Power Allied Forces invaded Beijing and Lao Yan’s bank collapsed. Yan Shutang and his son fled to Debt avoidance, Taiyuan. In 1902, Shanxi Military Equipment School enrolled students. Wan Xi and his father decided to abandon business and join the army. Yan Shutang asked a fortune teller to make a decision. Fortune teller said Wan Xi LMNT changed his name to “Xishan”-with “Xishan”, Wan Xi no longer worried about lack of gold.

In 1904, Yen Hsi-shan went to Japan to study abroad and entered the sixth period of study in Korea Military Academy, Japan. He accepted revolutionary ideas and joined the United League in October 1905. At that time, he showed a sophisticated flour. In 1909, Yen Hsi-shan graduated from Korea Military Academy and returned home. He soon became the standard commander of the Shanxi New Army (equivalent to colonel). What he often talks about is: “When things come to a crisis, one should be bold, and one should not talk to others unless one is a bosom friend.”

On October 10, 1911, the 1911 Revolution broke out. On October 28, Yen Hsi-shan launched an uprising in Taiyuan, killing Liu Zhongqi, governor of Shanxi Province, and set up the Shanxi Military Government. He became viceroy himself. Yen Hsi-shan’s classmate Cheng Qian said that Yen “made ordinary achievements and was very rustic when studying in Japan. But when he returned home, he instantly became famous all over the country and was the most brilliant figure in politics when Japanese students returned home”.

Grieving Yuan Shikai and Playing with Chiang Kai-shek

Yen Hsi-shan knew the times and was also good at playing tricks. Even a fierce and ambitious person;formidable man Yuan Shikai was fooled around by him.

In 1912, Yuan Shikai became the president. His opponent, Yan Xishan, Shanxi’s heavily armed chief, was not at ease. He set up a plan and called Yan Xishan and said, “Wang Ying, a bandit in Suixi, has always failed to eliminate him. Please personally lead the troops to clear the area. ” At the same time, the old Yuan Pai people arrived in Shijiazhuang, once yen hsi-shan disobeyed, immediately sent his troops to taiyuan. After receiving the telegram, Yen Hsi-shan solicited the opinions of his subordinates. Everyone said that it was cruel and should not be ignored. Yen Hsi-shan thought for a long time, judging Yuan Shikai was looking for fault if Disobedience and be fraught with grim possibilities. He immediately called back: “This day, our department will clear up.” Yuan Shikai received the call back and beamed, “Even my own son, he is just so obedient.” Yuan Shikai judged Yen Hsi-shan’s Cowardice and regarded him as a close confidant.

Later, Yuan Shikai proclaimed himself emperor. Yen Hsi-shan expressed his firm support and sent 20,000 dollars. However, on the one hand, he obeyed Yuan Shikai, and on the other hand, he communicated with the revolutionaries who opposed Yuan in the south. When Yuan Shikai’s general situation was gone, Yen Hsi-shan turned against him and ordered the army to march northward. Then he sent Yuan Shikai a telegram: “Our army has arrived in Baoding on its way northward.” Yuan Shikai was shocked when he received the telegram: isn’t Yen Hsi-shan trying to kill Beijing? Yuan Shikai, who only understood at this time, was not ill. Therefore, people later said that a telegram from Yen Hsi-shan angered Yuan Shikai.

Yen Hsi-shan’s contacts with Chiang Kai-shek also played a lot of tricks. In 1929, Hunan warlord Tang Shengzhi launched a war against Chiang Kai-shek and sent Yuan Shiquan, Yan Xishan’s old classmate, to bring Yan into the partnership. When the two met and talked, Yen Hsi-shan agreed. Meanwhile, Chiang Kai-shek also sent Yan’s old classmate He Chengjun to Shanxi to lobby. Yen Hsi-shan was deliberately indifferent and frequently expressed his dissatisfaction with Chiang Kai-shek in order to increase bargaining chips. After bargaining, the two sides agreed that Chiang Kai-shek would give Yen Hsi-shan the provinces of Jicha and Pingjin and allocate another 3 million yuan in military expenditure. On January 3, 1930, Yen Hsi-shan went to Zhengzhou to direct a punitive expedition against Tang Shengzhi. Yuan Shiquan, an old schoolmate, as if awakening from a dream, never asked politics for his whole life. After listening to the negotiations reported by He Chengjun, Chiang Kai-shek coldly said: “After Tang Shengzhi, then Yen Hsi-shan!”

In April 1930, Central Plains War broke out with Chiang Kai-shek on one side and Yen Hsi-shan and Feng Yuxiang on the other. Yen Hsi-shan was defeated. Only later Chiang Kai-shek reappointed Yen Hsi-shan for the purpose of stabilizing the political situation in Shanxi. But the two were still Apart. Legend has it that one year, Chiang Kai-shek was going to Taiyuan to inspect. Yen Hsi-shan and his staff discussed where to receive him. Some people said that in Yuncheng, Yan thought, “Yuncheng is homophonic with” Yun Cheng “.If you want Chiang Kai-shek to” Yun Cheng “,shouldn’t I be unlucky?” He changed his reception to a place called Jiexiu-let you “Jieshi” stop here. In November 1934, Chiang Kai-shek went to Taiyuan and learned that Yan Xishan’s father, Yan Shutang, was ill. In order to win over Yan Xishan, Chiang Kai-shek specially went to Yan’s house to visit Yan’s father. I didn’t expect Chiang Kai-shek’s visit. Father Yan’s illness was getting worse and worse, and he died a month later. It is said that Father Yan was scared to death by Chiang Kai-shek’s arrest of his son.

After 1935, the Red Army, Chiang Kai-shek’s Central Army and Japanese troops all arrived in Shanxi. Yen Hsi-shan said: “I want to dance on three’ eggs’ (Chiang Kai-shek, the Communist Party and the Japanese). I can’t break either.” He calculated that Chiang Kai-shek was his number one political enemy and could not let Chiang interfere in Shanxi. Japan cannot but resist in order to destroy China. The Communist Party of China and the Red Army cannot threaten themselves for the time being and can use them. Therefore, he came up with the idea of “uniting the Communist Party to resist Japan”. But Yen Hsi-shan also said: “Our cooperation with the Communist Party is tantamount to playing with tigers. If we play well, it can be used by me. If we do not play well, it will eat us.” By 1940, under the pressure of the Japanese army, Yen Hsi-shan began to turn to “unite with Japan and oppose communism”. During the War of Liberation, Yen Hsi-shan was very active in anti-communism.

Chiang Kai-shek Calls for Learning from Him

On May 19, 1930, Yen Hsi-shan appeared on the cover of Time magazine. Time magazine called him a “peaceful warlord”. The article praised that the “Marshal Yan with a rich voice and full of chest hair” brought prosperity to Shanxi and that “Shanxi people are the richest in China”. “His hobbies are not women, wine, opium or even money, but high-quality roads, textile industry, army, police, cattle, horses, Tillage, poultry and fertilizer-all things that can bring direct benefits to his villagers.” Yen Hsi-shan did take some credit for running Shanxi. He said: “Doing things is the result of life. If you do a lot of things, you will have a great life. The less you do, the less you will get in this life. ” He built water conservancy projects in Shanxi, promoted sericulture, built Taiyuan Arsenal and Shanxi Fire Pharmaceutical Factory, and introduced technology from France to assemble airplanes from 1925. By the end of 1930, he had more than 20 planes.

Yen Hsi-shan admired Chiang Kai-shek for his shrewdness. Chiang Kai-shek once said at a meeting of senior Kuomintang cadres: “In the past, we all failed to learn from the Soviet Union, the United States and Germany. It is better for Yen Hsi-shan to have a way in Shanxi. We will learn from Yen Hsi-shan in the future.”

Miss Cave Dwelling in Taiwan

Yan Xishan’s Yuanpei wife Xu Zhuqing was from Dafeng Village, Wutai County, 10 miles from his home. The marriage was decided by Yan Xishan’s father. Xu Zhuqing has never read a book or given birth to a child. She went to Taiwan with Yan Xishan and died at the age of 88.
Yan Xishan took good care of Yan’s relatives. His wife Xu zhuqing’s uncle Xu Yiqing became Shanxi’s financial secretary and manager of dahan bank, and took control of Shanxi’s financial power. There is a distant relative by yen hsi-shan into the grain bureau. Some people say that this person will do nothing. Yan snorted and said, “will he eat? Just eat. ”

The crowd was dumbfounded. At that time, there was a saying: “If you can speak five languages, carry a foreign sword.” This is Yan Xishan’s method of establishing family rule.

Yen Hsi-shan also has a wing, Xu Lansen, from Datong, Shanxi, who has given birth to many children. In 1946, Xu Lansen died of illness in Taiyuan at the age of 48.

In Yan Xishan’s life, there was also Yan Huiqing, the “fifth sister” who took care of his life. She is the daughter of Yan Xishan’s uncle Yan Shudian. She is Yan Xishan’s cousin by seniority, but 27 years younger than Yan Xishan. Yan Huiqing was good at observing and observing things. He was very considerate in serving Yen Hsi-shan. He often told Yen Hsi-shan about the local conditions and customs of his hometown. She was in charge of Yan Xishan’s food and often asked the kitchen to make some local flavor. When Yen Hsi-shan slept, she was responsible for tucking in the quilt and pounding her back. When Yen Hsi-shan slept, she turned off the light and left the bedroom with the guard.

“Five Sisters” is very popular with Yen Hsi-shan. But on March 29, 1949, Taiyuan was about to be liberated, and yen hsi-shan left Taiyuan on the pretext of going to Nanjing for a meeting. When he left, Yan said to the “fifth sister” that he would come back soon, “you should not go.” On April 24, the PLA captured Taiyuan. “Five Sisters” sent a telegram to Yen Hsi-shan: “One Farewell, The Next Life. My younger sister’s power generation date is still on earth, and my elder brother’s power reading date has already passed away. ” Later, she and Liang Huazhi, acting chairman of Shanxi Province, committed suicide by taking poison in inside, the residence under the bell tower of Taiyuan Appeasement Office.
Yen Hsi-shan retreated to Taiwan with Chiang Kai-shek, and at first served as “premier”. On March 1, 1950, Chiang Kai-shek kicked Li Zongren aside and became “president” again in Taipei. Yen Hsi-shan, who knew Chiang Kai-shek well, resigned voluntarily when he saw the situation was wrong. Before he left, he also said a lot: “People don’t insult you, you don’t argue with people, not without dispute, not without dispute. People insult you, and if you don’t fight with others, you won’t fight. ” After that, he took a large number of his entourage to Jingshan Mountain on the edge of Yangming Mountain on the outskirts of Taipei to live in seclusion. He brought a lot of gold to Taiwan, but also “Got the Money Anyway”. His residence is equipped with more than 50 long and short guns, and the roof and exterior walls are all equipped with machine gun firing ports. The inside of the window is also equipped with steel plates. It is not easy for anyone to move him.

Yen Hsi-shan wanted to immigrate to the United States and Japan, but Chiang Kai-shek did not agree. Therefore, Yan Xishan lived in Jingshan for 10 years. He missed his hometown of Shanxi and built the doors and windows of the house into cave dwellings.

In his later years, Yan Xishan did not easily enter the city. his life was very regular. he got up at 7 o’clock in the morning and then wrote. Rest for two hours after lunch, meet guests in the afternoon, or think about problems, and fall asleep at 10 o’clock in the evening.

On May 23, 1960, Yan Xishan died of illness at the age of 77. He chose the graveyard before his death. there was a huge word “zhong” in front of the graveyard, symbolizing his philosophy of life, “from benevolence, to zhong”.

Teach your son not to break away from the “civilian spirit”

None of Yan Xishan’s descendants took part in politics. His five sons were all born to his second wife Xu Lansen. His eldest son Yan Zhigong and his third son Yan Zhixin died in their infancy. The second son Yan Zhikuan died young in his 20s. Yan Zhikuan’s wife immigrated to the United States with her son Yan Shuying and daughter Yan Shurong. Yan Shurong died in his teens and later worked for Kodak Company in new york.

Yen Hsi-shan’s fourth son Yan Zhimin and his fifth son Yan Zhihui also went to the United States before the Kuomintang retreated to Taiwan. Before leaving, yen hsi-shan said: “when I was responsible for Shanxi, your grandfather said to me, if you want to know that you have such a big responsibility, I must teach you how to carry charcoal and clean toilets several times. only then can you know the difficulties of life and work, and only then can you handle civil affairs in a standard way. You grew up in Yamen inside. You did not know the difficulties of life and work. You did not encounter any obstacles and were not scolded. You were completely divorced from the spiritual environment of ordinary civilians. This can be said to be a major obstacle to your progress and a major loss to your future. ” He gave 16 words to his two sons: “Loving money and valuing righteousness, be awkward in one’s speech and earnest in one’s conduct, frugality and kindness, respect and forgiveness”.

Yan Zhimin and Yan Zhihui did follow their father’s teachings in the United States. Although they did not have a father-like Rich, they were famous and had a safe life. Yan Zhimin married Pei Bin from Taiyuan and gave birth to a son Yan Dayou. He studied very hard and got a doctor of law degree. Yan Zhihui married an American woman and gave birth to a daughter, Lily.

Yan started out as a warlord and spent his whole life in uniform. He experienced hardships and was safe. His family’s descendants were also safe. Yan Xishan’s “wisdom of life” is indeed unique.