Feng Yuxiang: upright nationalist

General Feng Yuxiang (馮玉祥)

General Feng Yuxiang (馮玉祥) gained fame when he defected from the Qing imperial army and clique of warlords to join the revolutionaries led by Sun Yat-sen in 1911. Years later, he toppled the Zhi (直) warlord faction in Hebei province, which enabled Sun Yat-sen to reach the capital Beijing.
Feng was also dubbed the “Christian general,” having been baptized into the Methodist Episcopalian Church in 1914. He zealously converted his troops to Christianity.
But it was his almost unmatched patriotic passion and sense of nationalism that sealed his place in history.
In 1921, two foreigners paid a courtesy call on the famous “Christian general,” by then the military superintendent, bearing a lump of wild ox meat as gift. Feng looked at the wild ox meat and asked his two visitors where they got it.
The foreigners told him with immense pride that the meat came from their hunting in China.
“When you hunt in China’s mountains and forests, who gave you approval?” Feng asked immediately.
The foreigners took exception to the question and answered, “No, there is no need for anybody’s approval.”
This angered Feng who then scolded them, “When you poach China’s wild ox, it is an act that violates the law.”
The two foreigners, who were accustomed to flouting the law, at first tried to quibble that China had no laws prohibiting the hunting of wild ox. Their response and attitude angered Feng even more. He ordered his men to tie up the foreigners.
At that point, the foreigners realized that they could not intimidate Feng and were awed by his sense of justice. They admitted their wrongdoing and sought forgiveness.
Feng then chided them, “When you are in China, you should follow the laws and rules of China. Don’t assume that the Chinese are spineless persons who are afraid of you foreigners. I, Feng Yuxiang, am not afraid; I won’t allow you to act recklessly in defiance of the law!”
The two foreigners nodded in agreement, bowed anxiously then took their leave in gloom.