Feng Yuxiang

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Feng Yuxiang (Wade-Giles: Feng Yu-hsiang) (1882-1948) was a Chinese warlord most powerful in the 1920s. He was known as the 'Christian General' early in his career, having joined the Methodist church in 1914; an apochyphal but much repeated story recounts how he baptised a contingent of his troops using a fire hose. As his political sympathies moved leftwards, and he formed links with the Soviet Union, he became better known as the 'Red General'.

Feng was the dominant figure in the Beijing region in 1924, overthrowing the government and expelling the former emperor Pu Yi, who fled to the Japanese concession of Tianjin. Forced out of the capital the following year by Zhang Zuolin, he retreated behind the Nankou pass to the north-west, where he established a base and lines of communication across Mongolia to the Soviet Union; he spent some months in Moscow in 1926, and returned to lend support to the Northern Expedition of the Guomindang. In 1928 he supported Chiang Kai-shek when the latter was in conflict with the Left-KMT, and exopelled the Soviet advisers he had brought back with him from Moscow. However, in 1929 he broke with Chiang, rebelling against him in association with Yan Xishan. The failure of this rebellion led to the clipse of Feng as a major figure in Chinese politics, although he sought a role for his army in the fight against Japan. In 1948, while on a world tour, he died in a fire on a Soviet ship in the Black Sea.

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