Friday, August 25, 2006

Bodyguard Mu

Another article by Uncle. Very interesting. It's amazing how he weaved the colourful history of a major figure called Lung Yun into the probably uneventful meeting with his little-known bodyguard. Can't wait for the next installment from Uncle. Hehe.

Yunnan is a vast province – as big as France. So I was rather surprised that when I was on my way to Zhong Dian from Lijiang in northern Yunnan last month a message arrived as to whether we could deviate from our proposed route to visit an ex-bodyguard of the once formidable de facto ruler of Yunnan, Lung Yun.

Lung Yun was a most powerful man in modern Chinese politics. Many of my dear readers will no doubt have heard of him — and by the way he is the grandfather of a godson of mine!

By the 1940’s Lung Yun was a powerful warlord in Yunnan. Call him a governor if you like but he was virtually the dictator of Yunnan when China was still in the grip of civil war and the war against Japanese imperialism.

Politics of course are but power games played more often than not for someone’s personal gain. So it was with what happened in the infamous case which later came to be known as the Kunming Incident (or 10.3. Incident as more popularly known) in which the bodyguard played a pivotal role.

In 1945 under the pretext of ordering Lung Yun’s forces into Vietnam and Burma to accept the Japanese surrender in these two countries, Chiang Kai Shek was in fact mobilizing his troops to enter Yunnan, to arrest Lung Yun and to take him to Nanjing, the then Nationalist capital. Chiang’s real motive was to reduce Lung Yun to a eunuch, at least politically-speaking.

In came Mr Mu, one of Lung Yun’s bodyguards. Since the age of 16 he had loyally served the warlord and when Chiang’s forces surrounded Lung Yun’s mansion in Kunming (it is now a guest-house) Mu, as one of Lung’s closest and most trusted bodyguards, helped Lung to escape from the mansion through the servant’s exit door at the back of the house with a small group of loyalists.

Lung managed to reach the fortified Wu Tai Shan in Kunming. A few days later, after defiantly thwarting Chiang’s forces, Lung surrendered to the mighty Chiang.

The story had a happy ending for both boss and bodyguard. Lung decided to escape to Hong Kong in 1948. Later he was considered to be a great patriot and after 1949 he was much honoured by the Chinese Government including becoming a vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, a most powerful post.

As for the bodyguard, after a few years in Nanjing he was ordered by Lung to return to Kunming. Like many of his contemporaries Mu suffered greatly during the Cultural Revolution but in the 1980’s like many in his previous position he was rehabilitated under Deng Xiao Ping.

So when the opportunity came for me to meet someone who had such a interesting background and who was associated with such a fascinating personality in modern Chinese history who could have resisted the opportunity?

Mu is now 89 years old, in fragile condition but truly alert and like many older people he retains a vivid memory of the past (though not of the present!). He is of course, as far as I am aware, the last surviving link to the ‘10.3 Incident’.

Sophie's note: Dad showed me a Columbia University site that cited famous journalist-turned-writer Edgar Snow's The Long March to supplement my reading. There was some write-up on the warlord Lung Yun.

1 comment:

K Turner said...

my good friend, Pearl Fu, is the granddaughter of Lung Yun. She would like to get in touch with you. her email address is