He Yingqin (Script error; April 2, 1890 – October 21, 1987), also spelled Ho Ying-chin, was one of the most senior generals of the Kuomintang (KMT) during Republican China, and a close ally of Chiang Kai-shek.
A native of Guizhou, He was healthy and bookish in his childhood. In 1907 he was enrolled by the Guiyang Military Elementary School, and transferred to the more famous Wuchang Third Army Middle School in the following year. In the same year, he was chosen by the Defense Department of Qing Dynasty to study in Imperial Japanese Army Academy for his excellent performance.
When studying in the Imperial Japanese Army Academy, he became acquainted with fellow student Chiang Kai-shek. He learned military skills and was influenced by the anti-Qing Dynasty theories of the Tongmenghui. He soon joined this secret organization. In 1911 after the outbreak of Wuchang Uprising, He came back to China with other members of Tongmenghui, to work for Chen Qimei, who was governor of Shanghai and also known as Chiang's mentor. When the war waged by the Tongmenghui against Yuan Shikai failed, He had to take refuge in Japan and proceed his military training.
After He's graduation in 1916, Liu Xianshi, the governor of Guizhou, planned to set up a military academy in Guizhou to train troops for himself. Liu asked his son, who also had studied in Japan, to enroll some talents for this job. With the recommendation of Liu's son and Wang Wenhua, the commander of the Guizhou army, He was appointed as colonel of 4th Regiment of Guizhou army.
He won Wang's trust quickly and married Wang's sister later. In the power struggle between Liu and Wang, He supported Wang and Liu lost power in 1920. As a reward, He was appointed as president of academy, head of police, brigadier of the 5th Brigade of Guizhou army. When Wang was assassinated by his rivals in 1921, the troops of Wang fell into chaos and civil strife. He was expelled from Guizhou by other generals and went to Yunnan to work for a local warlord.
In 1924, Chiang Kai-shek made preparation for the establishment of Whampoa Military Academy under the authorization of Sun Yat-sen. Chiang knew He's talent and recommend him to Sun. Sun sent a telegraph asking He to Guangzhou for the job. He accepted the offer and was appointed as the General Instructor of the academy.
In the course of the academy's establishment, He supported Chiang and won Chiang's appreciation. In the war against the local warlord Chen Jiongming, students training in the academy were grouped into two regiments. He was appointed as a colonel of one regiment. In the war, He proved his courage and military talent by winning several battles although he had just recovered from an illness, his performance made a deep impression on both Chiang and the Soviet Union's military advisor Vasily Blyukher (General Galen). Galen sent his sword to He as a gift after this war.
In July of the same year, the National Revolutionary Army was set up. The students of the academy were grouped into the 1st Army Corps, Chiang as the commander, He Yingqin as commander of one division, Zhou Enlai as the party representative of He's division. In September, Chen masterminded another commotion. Chiang led the war to put down this revolt, in which He demonstrated his military talent again.
During the Northern Expedition in 1926, He Yingqin succeeded Chiang as commander of the 1st Army Corps and led his army marching into Guangdong and Fujian provinces. After He controlled the whole area of Fujian, he conquered Zhejiang as well. When Chiang began to confront the Communists He supported Chiang as well. In 1927 He's army and Bai Chongxi's army launched a massacre on CCP members in Shanghai, which announced the end of first alliance of KMT-CCP.
When Chiang took power, the tension between him and Wang Jingwei, the New Guangxi Clique led by Li Zongren and Bai Chongxi rose day by day. Wang sent a statement to ask Chiang to resign, with the support from Li and Bai. Under these circumstances, He thought Chiang had made himself a public enemy and was destined to fail, so he supported Chiang's opponents activities secretly. In the meeting to decide Chiang's future, when Bai asked Chiang to resign, Chiang turned to He for support. He said nothing, which hurt Chiang's heart deeply and then Chiang left the meeting and announced his resignation in sorrow. Later when Chiang recalled this event, he said "Had He given me one word of support, I would not have been forced to resign."
Chiang soon regained his power due to the incompetence of Wang and his allies in controlling the situation. After Chiang's restoration, he took over He's military command and made himself commander. After He was sacked by Chiang, he went to Hangzhou for relieving his discontent. Chiang knew He's protest and came to meet with He. Chiang told He, "Without you, I can still take power, but without me, you will be nothing." After careful consideration, He had to reconcile with Chiang.
He was appointed as chief of staff of the National Revolutionary Army (NRA), and training supervisor for the NRA. During his term, He spared no effort to train armies for Chiang and crack down on warlords by regrouping their armies into Chiang's own armies. When the war between Chiang and alliance of the New Guangxi Clique, Yan Xishan, Feng Yuxiang, He commanded the army even when his father was dead. Chiang sent his condolence, which deeply impressed He.
In 1930, He was appointed as Minister of Military Administration Department of the Nationalist (KMT) government, of which he held for over a decade. During his term, He made great contributions to military service, logistics, defense construction of KMT, and his probity and cleanness won him great reputation.
In the same year, the Mukden Incident took place in Manchuria. Chiang regarded the CCP as his archrival and placed priority on the suppression of CCP forces, the Japanese should be dealt with by compromises instead of war. Thus, He was sent to Northern China to handle these tough issues because of his friendly way to the Japanese. In 1933, Japanese armies invaded Rehe and broke through the KMT defense along the Great Wall. He Yingqin replaced Zhang Xueliang as chairman of the Beijing Military Committee, which was the supreme organ in charge of the military forces of Northern China. He advocated no direct confrontation with the Japanese troops, and signed the Tanggu Cease-Fire Accord with Okamura Yasuji (岡村寧次), who was deputy chief of staff of Kantogun at that time.
After that, He Yingqin opposed campaigns and efforts against the Japanese, and disarmed Feng Yuxiang's anti-Japanese army. In 1935, Japanese troops started several incidents. When the Blue Shirts Society, the secret organization of the Whampoa Clique of the KMT, and a firm anti-Japanese group fought back with assassination and other violent activities, the Japanese argued that it was violation of the Tanggu Accord signed between China and Japan which was to keep the status quo of Northern China. Under the name of Yoshijirō Umezu, who was commander of Japanese troops in Northern China at that time, the Japanese spy agency under the direction of Kenji Doihara provided an investigation of the BSS as appendix of a memo. He agreed with all issues proposed by Japanese in this memo, which later was called He-Umezu Agreement. According to this accord, all forces having relations with the BSS inclusive of military police, regular forces such as 2nd Division and 25th Division should be evacuated from Beijing and out of Hebei province. The BSS had to retreat from Beijing in humiliation.
With KMT forces out of Northern China, He Yingqin had little room for maneuver. Then, he returned to Nanjing to do his job as minister. In Dec 1936, the Xian Incident broke out, Chiang was taken into custody by Zhang Xueliang's army. There were disagreements among the KMT leaders on how to handle this incident. Chiang's wife Soong May-ling was afraid of Chiang being killed and urged peace negotiations. He's role was quite controversial. He was voted as acting commander to lead the KMT armies to the rescue of Chiang. Historians used to say that He strongly supported the need to solve this incident by force, for which reason He contacted Wang Jingwei and asked him back to China to take charge of the KMT, and sent two armies marching to Xian to fight against Zhang's army. There was a saying when Soong May-ling came to He and asking for peaceful solution, He refuted her as a woman knowing little of politics should leave state issues alone. However, new evidence showed that actually it was the Whampoa clique especially those young and extremist officers of the Blue Shirts Society that launched the military attack against Zhang, and He even rejected their request for a supporting army.
Soong came to Xian for peace talks and did succeed in rescuing Chiang. When Chiang came back, he distrusted He again. Nonetheless, He still held his position of minister but with little real power.
When the Chinese anti-Japanese war turned into a general war after the occurrence of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937, He Yingqin was appointed as chief of staff and worked with Chiang for drafting military plans. In 1944, when his title of Minister of War was taken over by Chiang's favorite, Chen Cheng, He was appointed as General Commander of the Chinese Military Area, which was an honorable title instead of real power, and was sent to Yunnan to train the Chinese Expeditionary Army, which was set up under the proposal of Joseph Stilwell, for assisting in the ally force's operation in Southeast Asia.
In August 1945, when Japan announced its unconditional surrender, He was appointed as representative of both the Chinese Government and the Southeast Asia Ally Forces to host the surrender of Japanese troops in China. On Sept 9th, He accepted the statement of surrender submitted by Yasuji Okamura, who was General Commander of Japanese troops in China at that time. This historic moment put He under the spotlight of the world, and was the peak of his career.
In 1946, the KMT government set up the Defense Department to take charge of the military attack against CCP forces in the Chinese Civil War, but He lost the race with Chen Cheng and Bai, who were appointed as Chief of Staff and Defense Minister respectively. He was sent to the United Nations Security Council as director of the Chinese military delegation. One year later, He was called back to be a senior military advisor, and regained the position of Defense Minister in 1948 witnessing the collapse of KMT power.
In 1949, Chiang had to resign for the third time, when Li Zongren was voted as acting president. In order to contain Li's power and influence, Chiang asked He to take the job of speaker and later the head of the Executive Yuan of Li's cabinet, and was also named as acting Defense Minister. He took the job and proposed the plan of cease-fire first and peace negotiation later, for KMT to win time for its governance in China. The Communists exploited the military victory and crossed the Yangtze River conquering Nanjing, the capital of KMT government. Although the nationalists still had huge number of troops and there were good possibilities of turning the tide on paper, the United States refused to supply any more military aid and thus the troops were poorly armed and equipped and thus no longer had the combat power to turn the tide. Song Xilian, deputy commander-in-chief of Central China, had a heated argument with He over the telephone when He shouted that as the defense minister commanding all the forces, Song must obey his order, but Song arrogantly replied that he did not even know what was the defense minister and the head of Executive Yuan, and then simply hung up. He Yingqin consequently went to Li Zongren to complain, and claimed that he had never been humiliated like this in his life but Li was unable to help. In May, He resigned with his cabinet members in Guangzhou.
When He came to Taiwan, he said he would leave politics for introspection of the failure of the KMT. When Chiang was reelected as president of the Republic of China in 1950, he lost his election as member of the central committee of the KMT, and only gained the honorary title of senior advisor.
He took charge of several clubs and associations working for the KMT, and spent most of his time playing sports, bridge, and planting. In 1986 He suffered from apoplexy and was sent to a hospital, where, after several months treatment, he died on October 21, 1987. With the nickname of Lucky General, he survived battles and campaigns, and lived longer than most of the patriarchs of KMT inclusive of Chiang. His remains are interred at Wuchih Mountain Military Cemetery in Taiwan.