Yen Hsi-shan is one of the most controversial figures in modern Chinese history. He supported Yuan Shihai’s proclamation as king while assisting Sun Yat-sen in demolishing monarchy. Since his reign of being the Provincial Military Governor of Shanxi Province in 1911, his every decision was critical in the political situation during Anti-Japaneses War and Chinese Civil War. The programme discloses how Yen mastered his life by all the tactics and frustration at the last stage of life.
Yen Hsi-shan was one of the key figures in achieving success of the Revolution of 1911. Choosing military study over business was a key decision for his life. At the age of 21, he won the monetary support from the Qing Dynasty to study in Japan. His intelligence in politics made him all the success and became a Provincial Military Governor at a young age.
Yen Hsi-shan and Feng Yuxiang allied to initiate the Central Plains War to revolt against Chiang Kai-shek. The political situation at that time was getting intense. Yen Hsi-shan assigned Wang Ching-wei to call a meeting in order to gather more military forces and inaugurated as president in Beijing. However, the conflict between each military force was giving a chance for Chiang Kai-shek to counterattack.
Triggered by the accelerated invasion of Japan, different military forces gathered to initiate Anti-Japanese War. Due to the further input of Japanese military force, Yen Hsi-shan’s force failed to defence and retreated to Linfen. Meanwhile, a new military force led by Bo Yibo from the Communist Party rose and soon as well equipped as Yen’s. To strengthen the military power, Yen formed a coalition to defend against Chiang Kai-shek and the Communist Party at the same time.
After the end of Huaihai Campaign in January 1949, Taiyuan City was isolated and enveloped by the Chinese People's Liberation Army. The once prosperous Taiyuan could only rely on the airlift of food supply by Claire Lee Chennault. With the heated internal conflict between members of the Kuomintang, Yen Hsi-shan became the one who could bridge the gap between Chiang-Kai-shek and Li Zongren to maintain the stability of Kuomintang.
Yen Hsi-shan retreated to Taiwan and resigned from the Premier of Kuomintang. He lived in the forest and built cave dwelling with his servants to fight against the tough weather in Taiwan. On the other hand, Yen’s hope of going back to the Mainland was withered by Chiang Kai-shek’ s antipathy towards him.