Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bo Yibo

Bo Yibo was a politician and one of the .

He was alternate member and then member of the , deputy prime minister, chairman of State Economic Commission and vice-chairman of Central Advisory Commission of the Communist Party of China.

Joining the Communist Party of China when he was seventeen, Bo was one of the revolutionary veterans who were purged by the Mao Zedong-backed Gang of Four, and who returned to power after Mao's death.

Bo was one of a select group of powerful veterans centred around late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping who were informally known as the Eight Immortals for the vast influence they commanded until gradually succumbing to old age and death mostly in the 1990s.

By some reckonings Bo was the last immortal to – in Deng’s phrase – “go to meet Marx”, but he is survived by 90-year-old Wan Li, another former vice-premier widely considered to have been one of the eight.

Incidentally, the term "Eight Immortals" comes from Chinese myth and legend. They are worshiped by , but are also a popular element in secular Chinese culture. It is equivalent to saying Three Musketeers or Robin Hood in relation to events in modern Western politics.


In 1939, in the Shangtang district in southeast Shanxi Province, Bo Yibo and Rong Wusheng organized the First and the Third ''Dare–to–Die Columns'' with students from Peiping–Tientsin. These units were attacked by Nationalist forces in December 1940 in what was one of the earliest breaches of the Second United Front.

During the civil war, Bo worked with Liu Shaoqi – later persecuted and killed during the Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution – in underground “white” Nationalist-controlled areas. At the end of the war, he was named first secretary of the CCP Central Committee’s North China Bureau .

In the first years after 1949, Bo was Minister of Finance, a position he lost in December 1953 to his political ally of the time, Deng Xiaoping. His ouster was as much the result of a factional dispute with Gao Gang and Rao Shushi as it was about fiscal policies deemed insufficiently pro-state.

Later in the 1950s, he was among the veteran planners resistant to Mao Zedong’s economic policies. Others in opposition to the Great Leap Forward and similar extreme economic measures included Chen Yun, Li Xiannian, Li Fuchun and Yao Yilin. Bo served as Vice Chair and later Chair of the State Planning Commission, when he presided over the economic policies of the Great Leap Forward.

Bo Yibo was a member of the CCP Politburo from the 8th National Party Congress in 1956 to the beginning of the GPCR, and again in the early Deng Xiaoping era, from 1979 until the 12th National Party Congress in 1982, when most of the elders retired.

During the Cultural Revolution, Bo was imprisoned as a political prisoner by Jiang Qing, Chairman Mao's wife, for his pro-democratic activities and for advocating freedom of trade with western countries. He was held in a prison with some of the worst conditions available for fifteen years, during which time his wife was beaten to death. His sons and daughters were either imprisoned or sent to some of the poorest places in China . During the Cultural Revolution, Bo was struggled in public for 136 times, and interrogated for 206 times. The most common way of torture by was to struggle and interrogate him in the early morning and to wake him up at dawn, and the way to wake him up was to grab his limbs while he was asleep, and then throw Bo directly into cold waters from his bed in order to let him have a clear mind to accept the people's re-education. Bo Yibo, however, did not crack under such pressure and in his 7 ft by 7 ft jail cell, he developed his own excerise to strengthen his body and mind to stay healthy, and called his own excercise the 7-step drill. This experience resulted in a mixed attitude towards the reform later on, while strongly supporting the economic reform, Bo was reluctant to support the political reform.

Bo important contribution toward the Chinese economic reform was mainly in the early 1980s, when the reform was at its difficult time in its infancy. During the debate on whether free market economy should be allowed or not, Bo was firmly on the reformers' side. Once the free market economy was allowed, the hardline conservatives attempted to restrict it by limiting the maximum number of employees each private enterprise could have: no more than eight according to the orthordox Marxism, because anymore would be exploitation. Bo Yibo's support of private enterprises in free market economy was instrumental in helping to defeat the hardline conservatives' attempt to thwart the market reform. Bo's further support of economic reform came from one of his trips to Boeing facilities in the United States in the 1980s. During his visit, Bo discovered that there were only two airplanes parked at the facility so he asked Boeing executives that if those two were gone, then there would be nothing left. Boeing executives answered that it was exactly what they wanted because they production is based on customers' order and anything more than necessary would be a waste of money and other resources, just like when they could not fill customers' orders according to the schedule. After this visit to Boeing, Bo became much more critical to the Chinese practice of planned economy, accurately pointing out that the excess production plans were in fact a waste on resources, and even for the planned economy, it should be planned market economy instead of the rigid Soviet style planning.

Despite his support of economic reform, Bo was by no means a reformer like Hu Yaobang, Zhao Ziyang, Wan Li and Hu Qili in the political reform arena: after the 1982 12th National Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, Bo was kicked upstairs to the vice chairmanship of the toothless CCP Central Advisory Committee, but remained instrumental in removing CCP Secretary General Hu Yaobang from power. He returned to a leadership position when he urged a crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and actively supported the removal of Zhao Ziyang. Bo died of old age at almost 99 in a Beijing hospital.


His son Bo Xilai is called one of the "Crown Prince Party" and is head of the Communist Party in Chongqing, while the rest of his children obtained foreign residency, such as his daughter, who obtained American citizenship and resides in the U.S.

Zhao Tao

Zhao Tao is a Chinese actress who has starred in several films by Jia Zhangke.


She was born in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, which is also the hometown of the heroine in ''''. As a child, she studied classical Chinese dance. In 1996, she enrolled in the folk dance department at Beijing Dance Academy. After graduation, she became a dance teacher in Taiyuan Normal College, where she was spotted by Jia during casting for ''''.


''24 City''

Zhang Jigang

Zhang Jigang (; is an internationally acclaimed choreographer and a Lieutenant General in the People's Liberation Army. He was the former director of the Song and Dance Ensemble with the People's Liberation Army before promotion in 2006. Zhang Jigang now holds the highest non-combat military officer rank in China.

He is the only choreographer to receive the crown title of "Century Star" in the country, and is responsible for the creation of more than 300 large-scale productions in over 60 countries.

Early career

Zhang Jigang was born in the ancient Chinese city of Yuci located in the Shanxi Province. As a young child, he was influenced by Zhong Ziwu . He began formal dance training at the age of 12 in Taiyuan at the Song and Dance Ensemble of Shanxi Province. By the age of 17, he was working as an established choreographer for the Chinese government. In the 1980s he received the highest national dance award called Quan Guo Wu Dao Da Sai . Zhang Jigang became the first resident of Shanxi Province to receive such an award, propelling his career to national stardom putting Shanxi Province in the entertainment spotlight for the first time. Shortly after, in 1988 he enrolled at the Beijing Dance Academy where he graduated with a degree in choreography. He would later return to university and finish with a Masters in Political Science.


Zhang truly began to establish himself as a leading choreographer during this period, although he was yet to obtain the level of international success he would experience in the 90's. His works contained many traditional cultural Chinese dance influences throughout the decade, and were often categorized by heavy militaristic symbols.

''Mother and Son ''

Created by Zhang in 1986, it revolves around a mother and her criminal son. It was performed in Beijing, and was one of Zhang's first major works.

''The Night of Yuanxiao Festival ''

A comedic story created by Zhang Jigang revolving around a couple who visit the Yuanxiao Festival and lose each other in crowd. It quickly became a smash hit, and was franchised across China by dozens of provincial theatre companies.

''Feelings of the Yellow River Girl ''

A show developed by a number of choreographers.


A prolific period in Zhang's career, in 1992 he was invited to work as Choreographer for the Art Troupe of the PLA's General Political Department. Representing the highest attainable level of dance, the troupe continues to be the most famous group of its kind in China.

''Yellow Earth ''

Received the 20th Century Classical Dance Award, and a national smash success. It also received the 3rd Taoli Award for outstanding dance production.

''A Man Who Dances Yangge ''

Another production to receive the 20th Century Classical Dance Award. The story revolved around the passion of dance in China.

''I Come From the Yellow River ''

''Be Kind, and Take it Easy ''

''Wing of Life ''

''Happy Girls ''

''Flying ''

''Daughter's River ''


A period of international acclaim and militaristic success for Zhang Jigang. He was promoted to the rank of Lt. General in 2006 and currently holds the highest military rank in China for any non-combat officer. Aside from receiving awards in Hollywood California, North Korea,Japan and Monaco, Zhang Jigang created a number of multi-million dollar large-scale productions that subsequently toured , Australia, Italy and Spain. He currently resides in Beijing, China with his wife Zhang Lamei.

''Thousand Hand Bodhisattva ''

Zhang Jigang's most famous and influential production. The piece features 21 hearing impaired dancers who form remarkable arm and hand positions by standing behind each other in a perfect column. Breathtaking images are created as the dancers produce perfectly timed and choreographed movements. The show quickly became a national treasure and overwhelming domestic success. It was first performed internationally at the Kennedy Centre in Washington, D.C. in front of former President of the United States Bill Clinton, senior White House staff and spectators. It generated rave reviews and was showcased shortly thereafter around the world in countries including Australia, Japan, North Korea, Egypt, Turkey and Italy. In 2004 it was performed at the Closing Ceremonies for the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens, Greece and Miss World 2004 pageant held in Sanya, China. The primary filmed version was captured in 2005 at the Spring Festival in China on CCTV. It subsequently spread across the internet on such sites as Google Video and YouTube . It is widely estimated that hundreds of millions of Chinese and international viewers around the world have viewed the videos online.

''Poison Dates ''

Zhang Jigang's most recent production. The large scale show features a cast with some of China's most famous acrobatic and traditional dance stars. It revolves around the life of a young man who seeks his fortune in Shanxi during the Tang Dynasty. Poison Dates includes a huge ensemble with over 200 dancers. It is franchised across China and has been received by soldout shows in over 100 cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Taiyuan and Hong Kong. In early 2007, the show toured Japan and in December 2007 travelled to Taiwan.

''CCTV National Dance Competition, Season 4 ''

Zhang Jigang was a returning celebrity judge on China's most popular dance idol show. The program could be compared to that of the Idol series or Dancelife, with contestants vying to win a coveted prize in ballet, hip-hop, Latin, folk and Chinese classical dance. It was broadcast nationally every night from April 19 - 28th 2007 at 7:30pm on 3. Season 4 received the highest domestic ratings for the series ever, with an estimated national audience over 200 million viewers per episode.

2008 Beijing Opening Ceremonies

On August 8, 2008, Zhang Jigang co-directed and choreographed the 2008 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony in Beijing, China. Hein Verbruggen, chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission for the XXIX Olympiad, called the ceremony "a grand, unprecedented success." The called it "a spectacular opening ceremony." The BBC and ''The Times'' concurred by calling it a dazzling and spectacular show in Beijing.


1986 Third Annual National Dance Competition 3rd Award
1986 National Folk Singing and Dance Competition 1st Place of the Grand Prize
1987 National Wen Hua Award
1990 Tao Li Award
1992 20th Century Classical Dance
2002 The Wing of Life, Best International Production, Japan
2002 April Spring International, Best Choreography, North Korea
2003 Hollywood Star Award, Best Director

Yen Hsi-shan

Yen Hsi-shan, was a warlord who served in the .


Yen received his formal military training first in China and later at Imperial Japanese Army Academy. In Japan he became a member of Sun Yat-sen's and following the 1911 Xinhai Revolution he seized power in the province of Shanxi. Though a member of the Beiyang Army and affiliated with Duan Qirui, he avoided the violent national politics of the time by enforcing a neutrality policy on Shanxi, which freed his province from the . Taiyuan, the site of the one in China that could manufacture field artillery, also helped to secure his neutrality and his hold on the province. This ended when he joined the Kuomintang as it became clear it would be victorious.

Although Yen was known as the "Model Governor" for his enlightened policies, he was nonetheless a . In 1926, he pledged his loyalty to Chiang Kai-shek's new government, but in 1929 he joined Feng Yuxiang and Wang Jingwei in their attempt to overthrow the Chiang administration. During the Central Plains War, Yen joined Feng Yuxiang to fight Chiang Kai-shek, but both were defeated when Zhang Xueliang decided to join Chiang. Yen was forced to flee Shanxi to Dalian after his defeat, but after a brief retirement in the early 1930s, Yen returned to power in Shanxi and undertook social and military reforms to counteract the spread of communism in the province. Ironically, Yen's success to check the spread of communism was largely due to his adoption of many policies advocated by the communists, which targeted the problems of the nationalist regime: under the agreement reached between Yen Xishan and the Shanxi communist leader Bo Yibo, who had the approval of Mao Zedong, Yen authorized communists in Shanxi to implement many reforms for his regime. As Yen implemented the reforms under his reign, the popular resentment against his regime decreased, but this did not mean that Yen's relationship with Chiang Kai-shek had been improved as a result, and in fact, Yen supported Zhang Xueliang's seizure of Chiang Kai-shek in the 1936 Xi'an Incident.

During the Second Sino-Japanese War, most regions of Shanxi were overrun by the , but Yen refused to flee the province and after losing the provincial capital Taiyuan, he relocated his headquarter in the remote corner of the province, and then effectively resisted Japanese attempts to completely seize Shanxi. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese made no less than five attempts to negotiate peace terms with Yen and hoped that Yen would become a second Wang Jingwei, but Yen refused and stayed on the Chinese side.

After , his troops held out against the communists during the Chinese Civil War and attempted to rid Shanxi of communists by launching one of the first post World War II nationalist campaigns against the communists with Chiang Kai-shek's authorization. Much to the dismay of Kuomintang, Yen Xishan and his fellow commanders proved to be absolutely no match for his communist enemy Liu Bocheng and Deng Xiaoping, losing 13 of his best troops totaled more than 35,000 in less than a month during the Shangdang Campaign. Yen's failure strengthened Mao's position in the peace negotiation in Chongqing and helped the communists to achieve better terms for themselves while winning the sympathy from the general populace. One of the main reasons for Yen's failure was the loss of popular support, because Yen Xishan viewed the many reforms communists helped him to implement during the Second Sino-Japanese War only as emergency measures to survive the Japanese pressure, and as Yen attempted to abolish these reforms that had won him great popular support, such as the tax and rent reduction for tenant peasants and small business owners, Yen's regime in the post war era lost the popular support it once enjoyed during the war, and thus drove the general populace to the communist side.

Despite all those debacles, however, Yen Xishan refused Chiang Kai-shek's help after his defeat, fearing Chiang would take the opportunity to take over his turf. As a result, in the following campaigns against his communist enemy, Yen and his commanders once again proved to be absolutely no match for his fellow Shanxi colleague Xu Xiangqian, who was on the communist side. During the first stage of the Central Shanxi Campaign in the central part of the Shanxi province, Yen Xishan managed to have his best 100,000 elite troops with absolute numerical and technical superiority to be completely wiped out by Xu Xiangqian's mere 60,000 strong force in less than six weeks. Unwilling to concede defeat, Yen Xishan immediately sent another a quarter million crack troops of his against Xu Xiangqian's 60,000 strong force, hoping to defeat communists by not letting them to have the opportunity to regroup and recover from the previous battles, only to have another 200,000 out of the quarter million to be killed by Xu Xiangqian's communist force in less than 17 months that followed. Yen's loss of his best 300,000 troops within 18 months was a serious blow that Yen could never recover from, and it marked the beginning of the end of Yen's reign in Shanxi. Though it was Yen who refused Chiang's help out of fear of losing his turf, Yen nonetheless blamed Chiang for his failure after these defeats, and supported Chiang's rival Li Zongren.

Although Yen's force was nearly wiped out by the numerical and technologically inferior communist force led by his Shanxi colleague Xu Xiangqian, Yen did succeed in buying valuable time to strengthen the defense of the provincial capital Taiyuan because the communist force needed the time to recover, regroup and prepare for the final assault of the provincial capital. Yen was so confident in the defense of the city that he promised that he would die in the city. However, when the inevitable final assault on the provincial capital begun, Yen and his commanders again proved that they were absolutely no match for Xu Xiangqian: during the Taiyuan Campaign, Yen's force of more than 130,000 with numerical and technical superiority not only failed to defend the city against the numerically and technically inferior 100,000 strong communist force led by Xu Xiangqian, but was also devastated by the communist forces in the desperate and hopeless battle. Just shortly before the fortress city of Taiyuan fell in April 1949, Yen betrayed his own promise of dying with the city and fled with the provincial treasury to Guangdong. After reaching Guangdong, he soon fled to Taiwan along with the rest of the Republic of China government on 8 December, 1949. From 3 June, 1949 to 7 March, 1950, he served as Premier of the Republic of China first briefly in Guangdong and then in Taiwan. He died in Taipei, Taiwan.

After the Communists took over, Yen, like most Nationalist generals who did not switch their sides, were demonized in the communist propaganda. It was not until after 1979, when the reforms started in China, that Yen was viewed more positively , and the contributions by Yen during his reign are beginning to be recognized by the current Chinese government. One of this achievements, namely Yen's success in containing one of the epidemics in Shanxi, was quoted recently by various Chinese governmental organizations as an example to follow to contain the and epidemics in China, and as criticism of the incompetence of Chinese governmental officials in such epidemics.

Xu Jiyu

Xu Jiyu , native of in Shanxi, high-ranking official and geographer during the late Qing dynasty. He is mostly known as the author of ''A short account of the maritime circuit'' and is widely regarded as an early participant of the Self-Strengthening Movement.

Early life

Xu came from a scholarly family in Shanxi province; his father Xu Rundi had obtained the highest degree in the imperial examinations and served as a secretary in the Grand Secretariat. The young Xu was fond of studying and joined his father in Beijing, where he met a number of prominent scholars of the day. Xu studied under the direction of his father and became an adherent of the Wang Yangming school of thought.

Bureaucratic career

Having obtained the intermediary degree in the imperial exams in 1813, Xi Jiyu was initially unsuccessful in advancing in the exam system. In 1826, Xu Jiyu was finally awarded the highest degree in the imperial examinations and four years later he was appointed to a position in the prestigious Hanlin Academy. In the Academy, he worked under the direction of the chancellor, Mujangga, with whom he would work closely during following years. In 1836, he became prefect of Xunzhou in Guangxi province. During his tenure as a prefect Xu Jiyu submitted a number of memorials on domestic reform, which impressed the Daoguang Emperor and further helped Xu to rapidly rise through the ranks of the Qing civil service. Following the outbreak of the , Xu was appointed circuit intendant of a coastal prefecture in Fujian province, where he witnessed the war with his own eyes, an experience that convinced him that China needed to learn more about the West.

After the Opium War, Xu Jiyu was closely associated with Mujangga's "appeasement" faction in the imperial court and he was responsible for carrying out Mujangga's policies in the south. In 1846, Xu was appointed governor of Fujian Province, where he took charge of managing the opening of two ports that had been opened as a consequence of the Treaty of Nanjing. In Fuzhou, Xu Jiyu frequently met with foreign residents, who provided him with information on the world outside China.

The ascension of the Xianfeng Emperor in 1850 and the subsequent ousting of the Mujangga faction from the government would reversed fortunes of Xu Jiyu. In 1851, he was dismissed from his post on account of his close interaction with foreigners and he was forced to retire to his home province, where he stayed for almost a decade and a half. Xu's fortunes again changed after Empress Dowager's Cixi's coup d'etat in 1861 and afour years later, Xu was brought back into service, first working in the newly established foreign office, the Zongli Yamen, and later being put in charge of the language school Tongwenguan. Xu Jiyu retired in 1869 and retired to his home province, where he died four years later.

Scholarly work

During his tenure in Fujian province, Xu Jiyu had the opportunity to interact with a number of Westerners who had just arrived in the province, such as the American missionary David Abeel, the and British consular officials, Rutherford Alcock and George Tradescant Lay, father of Horatio Nelson Lay. Xu also collected information on the West from missionary literature in Chinese. The information Xu collected was crucial to his publication of ''A Short Account of the Maritime Circuit'' in 1849. Although this work is lesser known than the work of his contemporary Wei Yuan, ''A Short Account'' was more accurate in its description of Western geography. The work was reprinted in 1866 and was also republished in Japan.

Xi Zezong

Xi Zezong is a science historian and member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Sun Chanteen

Sun Chanteenborn in Shanxi, late Ming Dynasty‘s Defence minister, field Marshal,led 500,000 Ming troops against Li Zicheng‘s 700‘000 troops took large scale mobile warfare in whole Henan province 18 months but Sun retreated and KIA in Shaanxi at last that was symbol Ming Dynasty prepare collape end!

Decisive Battles of Henan

Battle of Nanyang

Battle of Zhuxianzhen


Battle of Tongguan County