Ex­plore his­tory at home base of mil­i­tary ge­nius

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SUNDAY TRAVEL - By LI YANG in Guilin, Guangxi liyang@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Deep in the moun­tains of Lin­gui county, Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion, is the for­mer home of Li Tsung-jen, a man of in­tegrity, a renowned mil­i­tary strate­gist and the act­ing pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of China in 1948.

Li gained China’s first ma­jor vic­tory in the War of Re­sis­tance against Ja­panese Ag­gres­sion ( 1937- 45) at the 1938 bat­tle of Tai’erzhuang, in Shan­dong prov­ince, when 20,000 to 30,000 en­emy troops were killed.

Li was born in 1891, in Lang­tou vil­lage, and was the sec­ond boy of eight chil­dren. His fa­ther, Li Peiy­ing, was a school­teacher in the vil­lage, while his mother, Liu Sud­uan, was well re­spected in the com­mu­nity.

Li’s el­der brother built their Lin­gui county house in the early 1900s and Li lived there un­til 1908, when he en­rolled at age 17 at a lo­cal mil­i­tary school. He re­vis­ited the house four times in 1911 as part of his mar­riage prepa­ra­tions, re­turned in 1926 for a fam­ily gath­er­ing, in 1942 for his dy­ing mother, and also in 1948 to pon­der his fu­ture at a time when the Kuom­intang was los­ing the civil war.

The square res­i­dence, cir­cled by 8.5- me­ter- tall gray- brick walls, cov­ers an area of 5,060 sq me­ters. It has small baro­questyle win­dows and tur­rets. Its main gate opens to the north, while there is a sad­dle-shaped karst hill to its west.

Feng shui masters at­tribute Li’s suc­cess to the po­si­tion­ing of the res­i­dence in re­la­tion to the hill and the well, and be­lieve the gate fac­ing north en­sured good for­tune would en­ter the house.

To­day, walk­ing into the com­pound, there is the smell of rot­ten wood cov­ered by moss, and slip­pery slates on the ground,

Li’s par­ents moved into the Gen­eral’s Res­i­dence af­ter it was built in 1923 and it was of­ten the scene of fam­ily cel­e­bra­tions.

Happy Res­i­dence and the Gen­eral’s Res­i­dence form an in­ner yard sur­rounded by tall walls, di­vided into smaller yards, and fea­ture a two-story, five-bed­room wooden build­ing, kitchen, gra­nary, oil de­pot, toi­let and bath­room.

The eight wooden build­ings in the four small yards have sim­i­lar styles and are in­ter­con­nected. On the first floor are two bed­rooms, with a liv­ing room and a din­ing room. On the sec­ond floor are three bed­rooms that share one large wooden bal­cony.

To the east of the two res­i­dences is a school for the ex­tended fam­ily’s chil­dren and a gar­den that was built in 1925 for Li’s fa­ther. Li’s fa­ther died in 1925, with­out teach­ing in the school or en­joy­ing the gar­den.

The third ex­pan­sion of the res­i­dence is the guest­house of about 2,000 sq m, which fea­tures three rows of in­ter­con­nected two- story wooden build­ings, with roofs sup­ported by solid fir tree pil­lars and carved stone bases. The wooden walls be­tween the build­ings can be re­moved, al­low­ing space for the host­ing of big events.

All rain­fall and san­i­tary waste was piped into a bas­ket­ball court-sized fish­pond, not far from the spring well, which fresh­ened the pond, pro­vided wa­ter for wash­ing, and also wa­tered the fam­ily’s rice paddy field.

Li Changqing, a 72-year-old farmer and the grand­son of Li Tsung-jen’s fa­ther’s el­der brother, still lives at the res­i­dence. “I don’t be­lieve the feng shui masters. Li Tsung-jen was the only ‘some­body’ to come from here. Most of his rel­a­tives, like me, are poor.”

PHO­TOS BY HUO YAN / CHINA DAILY

Li Tsung-jen’s old res­i­dence in Lang­tou vil­lage of Lin­gui county, Guilin city, Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

Guest house in Li Tsung-jen’s old res­i­dence.

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