Wang Pi-Cheng died


Wang Pi-Cheng, 102, a Chinese general who represented his nation at ceremonies ending World War II, died Thursday in Westminster. He was born in 1900 in Jiangxi province, graduated from Wuchang Normal University in 1924 and taught elementary school for three years before joining the military. Mr. Wang was Chinese military attache to the Soviet Union during the 1937-45 and witnessed the Japanese surrender aboard the U.S. battleship Missouri in 1945. Mr. Wang retired as a lieutenant general from the army of the Republic of China in 1974. He was not often on the battlefield, but earned a medal for hand-to-hand combat. Wang encountered a Japanese sergeant in a field outside Shanghai during the Sino-Japanese War, his sons said, and killed him with a sword, suffering a bayonet wound in the struggle.
Mr. Wang continued his education as a Chinese government-sponsored scholar at military academies around the world, including the Japanese Army Academy and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. While a student in Munich, Germany, he met Adolf Hitler and chatted with Benito Mussolini in the Italian leader's country villa, family members said.
Chinese leader Chiang Kai-Shek trusted Wang's intelligence analysis so much that, in 1943, he chose not to move his capital west, even though the Japanese were perilously close to Chungking.
"He told the generalissimo that the Japanese supply lines were too long, they couldn't support them. That was his judgment and everybody was surprised," said Wang Tze Ching, 87, an unrelated colleague who headed the American intelligence section of Chiang's government at the time. "It was a big risk, but finally the Japanese did withdraw."
Mr. Wang's five sons, who all live in Southern California, are proud of their father's accomplishments, though they say he was absent for much of their childhood. "He devoted his whole life to the Chinese people," said Wang's eldest son, Richard, 76. "Before I was 10 years old, I never had a chance to dine with him at the same table." But after the retired general moved to California in 1978 with his second wife, Lydia, to live with his sons, he reveled in family life. His health began to fail this year after his wife died in January. He died Thursday of heart and kidney failure. (Source: Jia-Rui Chong, The Los Angeles Times, Mar. 1, 2003).



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