|Died||11 Jan 1959|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseZhang Jinghui was born into a poor family in Bajiaotai, Tai'an County, Fengtian Province (now Liaoning Province), China, southwest of Mukden (Mandarin name: Shenyang). During his childhood, he helped his father selling tofu to make a living. During the First Sino-Japanese War between 1894 and 1895, he organized a volunteer militia unit from among the citizens of Bajiaotai to protect the village from potential Japanese attacks. While being the head of the Bajiaotai militia, Zhang Zuolin, merely a leader of a small group of bandits at this time, was attacked by a rival bandit group, and fled through Bajiaotai with intention of joining warlord Feng Delin with his surviving forces. Impressed by the militia, Zhang Zuolin chose to remain, and Zhang Jinghui gave up his leadership position to Zhang Zuolin. The two would grow close and would swear brotherhood. In 1900, Zhang Zuolin joined the Qing Dynasty, thus bringing Zhang Jinghui to formal military service.
ww2dbaseDuring the 1904 to 1905 Russo-Japanese War, Zhang Jinghui fought on the side of the Japanese as a hired mercenary.
ww2dbaseIn 1910, Zhang Jinghui studied at the Fengtian Army War College. In 1911, the Republic of China overthrew the Qing Dynasty; Zhang joined the side of the republic. He was a battalion-level commander with the Republic of China 27th Division (whose commanding officer was Zhang Zuolin). In 1917, he was promoted to lead the 53rd Brigade in the 27th Division. In Feb 1918, he led his brigade on an attack on a transport convoy of the rival Zhi faction within the Republic of China, hijacking a handsome supply of arms that Zhi had just purchased from Japan, which allowed the Feng faction, which Zhang Zuolin was a part of, to arm seven brigades. To reward him, Zhang was temporarily named the commanding officer of the Feng 1st Division before promoting him to the position of the deputy commander of the Feng faction. In this role, he took up residence in the Beiyang capital of Beijing as the Feng representative. In Sep 1920, Zhang was named the commander-in-chief of Chahar Province with direct command of the Beiyang 16th Division.
ww2dbaseIn Apr 1922, the rivalry between the Zhi and Feng factions escalated to war, and the Feng faction was defeated by May; Zhang Zuolin withdrew back to the northeast, and Zhang Jinghui, who led troops during this First Zhi-Feng War, retired to Beijing. He was briefly employed by the government, now with heavy influence from the Zhi faction, as the official overseeing a major project to renovate roads throughout the country; this was viewed by Zhang Zuolin as an apparent act of betrayal. In the winter of 1925, Zhang Jinghui's mother passed away in his home town. Through fellow officers, Zhang Jinghui requested permission from Zhang Zuolin to return to Fengtian Province for the funeral, and en route personally apologized to his sworn brother for assisting the Zhi faction, which was accepted. Now as a member of the Feng chiefs of staff, he often traveled between Beijing and Fengtian Province. Between May 1926 and Jun 1927, the Feng faction emerged victorious from the Second Zhi-Feng War. With the Feng faction gaining influence in the government, Zhang served as the Republic of China's Minister of War between May 1926 and Jun 1927 and Minister of Enterprises between Jun 1927 and Jun 1928. On 4 Jun 1928, en route to Fengtian Province via train with Zhang Zuolin, a successful assassination attempt on the warlord left Zhang Jinghui seriously wounded. Recovered later that year, he served under Zhang Zuolin's son Zhang Xueliang as the governor of the Eastern Railway Special District with its headquarters in the city of Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, China. Subsequently, he served in the capital city of Nanjing as the chief of the Republic of China military staff.
ww2dbaseIn Sep 1931, the Japanese staged the Mukden Incident as the excuse to invade northeastern China; in response, Zhang plotted to use the opportunity to secede from China, proclaiming independence on in Jan 1932 with Japanese support. He was made the provincial governor of Heilongjiang in the planned new puppet state of Manchukuo, but as the more influential Ma Zhanshan surrendered to the Japanese in Feb 1932, Zhang was cast aside, and Ma was given the provincial governor position. Between 1932 and 1935, he served as the head of the Privy Council, Minister of Defense, and the governor of the Eastern Railway Special District. In May 1935, he was made the Prime Minister of Manchukuo, succeeded Zheng Xiaoxu who fell out of favor with the Japanese. Between May and Jul 1937, he personally took on the office of the Foreign Ministry (to be succeeded by Tadakazu Ohashi) and the office in charge of Mongolian affairs (to be abolished in Jul 1937). Although nominally the head of government, he was a puppet of the Japanese, inviting nicknames such as "tofu" to describe his lack of conviction. He maintained his nominal position as the prime minister until the end of the war.
ww2dbaseZhang Jinghui was arrested by Soviet forces at the Manchukuo capital of Xinjing (now Changchun, Jilin Province, China) in Aug 1945. He was extradited to the Chinese communists in Aug 1950. Imprisoned at the Fushun War Criminals Management Center in Liaoning Province for political re-education, he was reported to be a model prisoner-student. He passed away in imprisonment from heart failure in Jan 1959.
Last Major Revision: Jul 2012
Zhang Jinghui Timeline
|4 Jun 1928||Zhang Jinghui was seriously wounded east of Huanggutun near Mukden, Fengtian Province (now Liaoning Province), China during the successful assassination attempt on warlord Zhang Zuolin.|
|27 Sep 1931||In response to the Japanese aggression during the Mukden Incident, Governor Zhang Jinghui of Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, China called for a conference with his lieutenants to plan a secession of the region from the Republic of China.|
|7 Jan 1932||Governor Zhang Jinghui of Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, China, with support from the Japanese declared the secession of Heilongjiang from China to join the puppet state of Manchukuo.|
|3 Aug 1932||Zhang Jinghui was named the head of the Ministry of Defense of the puppet state of Manchukuo.|
|1 Mar 1934||Zhang Jinghui, already the head of the Ministry of Defense of the puppet state of Manchukuo since 1932, was named the Minister of Defense.|
|21 May 1935||Zhang Jinghui was named the second Prime Minister of the puppet state of Manchukuo.|
|3 May 1937||Zhang Jinghui, temporarily shedding his government title and acting only as a civilian, oversaw the funeral service and the re-internment of his sworn brother Zhang Zuolin, assassinated by the Japanese in 1928, in northeastern China.|
|1 Aug 1950||Zhang Jinghui, a prisoner in the Soviet Union since Aug 1945, was extradited to Communist China.|
|11 Jan 1959||Zhang Jinghui passed away from heart failure at the Fushun War Criminals Management Center in Fushun, Liaoning Province, China.|
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Thomas Dodd, late 1945