|Died||10 Mar 1973|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseLi Mi was born in Yingjiang County, Yunnan Province, Qing Dynasty China in 1902 as the sixth of eight children. He received elementary education in Yingjiang County before moving to Tengchong County, Yunnan (his family's ancesteral home) to further his education. In 1924, he served as an orderly for Yunnan warlord's 7th Division, which was stationed in Guangdong Province in southern China. Earning his officer's liking, Li received a recommendation from him for the Whampoa Military Academy in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province. He graduated from Whampoa in Oct 1926 and was assigned Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, China. He saw action in the Northern Expedition of 1926 to 1928. During the anti-communist campaigns in the late 1920s, his superior officer General Chen Cheng accused him of harboring communists, but Nationalist leader Chiang Kaishek vouched for him. In the early 1930s, he was transferred under General Xue Yue, winning key battles against the Jiangxi Soviets. During the Long March of 1934 to 1935, his troops persued the communists for over 1,000 miles. In 1936, he was made the governor of Ruichang County, Jiangxi Province. In 1937 as WW2 broke out in China, Li held the rank of colonel, but he saw no action in the first three years as rumors regarding his disloyalty began to surface.
ww2dbaseIn 1939, Li finally persuaded Chinese leadership to trust him with a command. As a divisional commander, he participated the Battle of Kunlun Pass during the Winter Offensive of 1939 to 1940. In 1940, he was given command of 1st Honor Division of Chinese 8th Corps. In 1942, he was made the deputy commanding officer of the 8th Corps. Later in 1942, he moved his troops southwestward to Hekou-Maguan area of Yunnan Province to defend against a possible Japanese invasion from French Indochina. In late 1943, at a training camp near Maguan, his calligraphy "huan wo he shan" ("return our land") was carved into a cliff face. In 1944, he was assigned to Y-Force, a Chinese expeditionary force that went into northern Burma, during the Salween Offensive; during that campaign his division played a major role in destroying Japanese 55th and 56th Divisions. In 1945, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and was given command of the 8th Corps. In Jun 1945, before the end of WW2, Li, along with generals Du Yuming and Qiu Qingquan, attacked Yunnan Province to remove warlord Long Yun who Chiang viewed as a threat.
ww2dbaseIn 1947, Li was made a representative of Yunnan Province in the First National Assembly of the Republic of China. In 1948, he was made the commanding officer of 13th Army Group. During the Chinese Civil War that resumed after the end of WW2, Li scored some victories in eastern China, but in Nov 1948, again fighting alongside of Du and Qiu, his forces were surrounded and wiped out by communists near Chenguan County, Henan Province, China. After Du became captured and Qiu committed suicide, Li was able to break out of the envelopment, escaping to Nanjing, China via a river ferry from Qingdao, Shandong Province, China. He was then made the concurrent commanding officer of the 13th Training Command and of a newly reconstituted 8th Corps, and was given the responsibility of the recruitment (from southern China) and training of this corps. In Aug 1949, he was ordered to move the 8th Corps to Yunnan. After Yunnan Chairman Lu Han's defection to the communists, Li withdrew his troops into the border regions of Burma, Laos, and Thailand. He was nominally made the Chairman of Yunnan Province by the Nationalist Chinese leadership, but in reality he was the commander of the large Anti-Communist National Salvation Army guerrilla force that made repeated nuisance attacks against communist positions in southern Yunnan. Li Mi attempted to expand his operation into French Indochina, but those troops were caught and interned by the French (some of these men were released to Taiwan, but many also stayed and ultimately became Vietnamese citizens). His operations were funded by the United States (through the military aid sent to Taiwan) and by opium cultivation in Shan State in northern Burma. During the Korean War, he played a minor role in preventing communist China from focusing its entire attention in Korea. In 1953, the United States became concerned that his force might destabilize Burma and surrounding regions, and urged Chiang to recall Li. Chiang did so in 1954, airlifting him along with 7,000 men to Taiwan (at the same time, however, Chiang also issued a secret order for more than half of Li's troops to remain in the region under the command of Duan Xiwen; the Chinese Nationalist government in Taiwan would later completely lose control of them as they fought against Burmese local crime lords for control of opium distribution, and were hired by the Thai government to fight communist rebels in northern Thailand). Li retired from military service in late 1953 and entered a career in politics. He was a member of the legislature and was a member of the Central Committee of the 9th National Assembly. He passed away after suffering a heart attack in 1973.
Last Major Revision: Feb 2015
Li Mi Timeline
|7 Feb 1949Â||Li Mi met with Chiang Kaishek over a meal and reported to Chiang his Nov 1948 total defeat at the hand of the communists near Chenguan County, Henan Province, China.|
|27 Aug 1949Â||Li Mi was ordered to move Chinese 8th Corps to Yunnan Province, China.|
|10 Mar 1973Â||Li Mi passed away in Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China.|
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