Sa Zhenbing KCMG (simplified Chinese: 萨镇冰; traditional Chinese: 薩鎮冰; pinyin: Sà Zhènbīng; Wade–Giles: Sah Chen-ping) (30 March 1859 – 10 April 1952) was a prominent Chinese admiral of the late Qing dynasty and the early Republic. He lived through four governments (Qing, Beiyang, Nationalist, Communist) in China, and had been appointed to various senior naval and political offices.

Sa Zhenbing
Sak Deng-bing.jpg
Acting Premier of the Republic of China
In office
14 May 1920 – 9 August 1920
PresidentXu Shichang
Preceded byJin Yunpeng
Succeeded byJin Yunpeng
Minister of Navy of the Great Qing
In office
MonarchXuantong Emperor
Prime MinisterYuan Shikai
Preceded byZaixun
Succeeded byPosition abolished
In office
1 July 1917 – 12 July 1917
MonarchXuantong Emperor
Prime MinisterZhang Xun
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Minister of Navy of the Republic of China
In office
June 1917 – July 1917
Preceded byCheng Biguang
Succeeded byLiu Guanxiong
In office
December 1919 – May 1921
Preceded byLiu Guanxiong
Succeeded byLi Dingxin
Personal details
Born(1859-03-30)March 30, 1859
Fuzhou, Qing Empire
DiedApril 10, 1952(1952-04-10) (aged 93)
Fuzhou, People's Republic of China
Political partyAnhui clique
AwardsOrder of Wen-Hu
Order of St Michael and St George
Military service
Allegiance Qing Empire
Flag of China (1912–1928).svg Republic of China
Flag of Fujian People's Government.svg People's Revolutionary Government of the Republic of China
 People's Republic of China
Branch/service Imperial Chinese Navy
 Republic of China Navy
Years of service1869–1946
RankAdmiral (1912, Beiyang government)
Admiral, 2nd Class (1946, Nationalist government)
CommandsQing dynasty Beiyang Fleet
Qing dynasty Nanyang Fleet
Qing dynasty Guangdong Fleet
Qing dynasty Imperial Chinese Navy (unified by Sa Zhenbing)
 Republic of China Navy
Battles/warsFirst Sino-Japanese War
Xinhai Revolution

Early lifeEdit

Sa Zhenbing was born in Fuzhou, Fujian province, to a Semu family of Qarluk origin who had lived in the area since the late Yuan dynasty. Between 1869 and 1872 he attended the Fuzhou Naval Academy; Deng Shichang was among his classmates. Between 1877 and 1880 Sa Zhenbing was among the first group of Fuzhou Naval Academy alumni sent abroad to study at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich in Britain.

Battle of WeihaiweiEdit

After serving as a Chief Mate in the Nanyang Fleet, Sa Zhenbing became the youngest captain in the Beiyang Fleet. In 1895 he participated in the Battle of Weihaiwei during the First Sino-Japanese War, leading a group of sailors from the training ship Kangji in a ten-day defence of an island coastal fortress off Weihaiwei.

At that time the Japanese Admiral Itō Sukeyuki appealed to the Beiyang Fleet Admiral Ding Ruchang to surrender, promising him political asylum in Japan; Admiral Ding chose to commit suicide by handgun in his office at the Liugong Island headquarters. His deputy, Admiral Liu, after ordering that his warship be scuttled by explosives, also committed suicide by taking poison. Command of the Chinese Forces fell to Scottish-born Vice-Admiral John McClure, who completed the surrender negotiations with Admiral Ito. As the only captain still alive at the end of the battle, Sa Zhenbing was given the task of formally surrendering to Admiral Ito.

Later careerEdit

In 1905 Sa Zhenbing was appointed Admiral-in-Chief of the Beiyang, Nanyang and Guangdong Fleets (three out of four Qing's fleets), tasked with rebuilding the Imperial Chinese Navy after the defeat during the First Sino-Japanese War. Under his leadership the general efficiency of the Chinese naval personnel improved considerably.[1]

During the Wuchang Uprising of 1911, Sa Zhenbing was ordered to sail to Wuhan to suppress the revolutionaries; upon realizing his sailors' revolutionary tendencies, he left his post on 1 November for Shanghai. Nonetheless he was appointed Minister of the Navy by Yuan Shikai, who at the time was the last Prime Minister of the Imperial Cabinet.

Sa Zhenbing briefly served as acting Prime Minister under the Beiyang government in 1920,[2] then as Governor of Fujian Province from 1922 to 1926.

In 1949, near the end of the Chinese Civil War, Sa Zhenbing declined an offer by Chiang Kai-shek to evacuate him to Taiwan, instead pledging his allegiance to the Communist Party of China.

Sa Zhenbing died in his hometown of Fuzhou in 1952, aged 94.

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Jane's Fighting Ships 1906-07, p.359
  2. ^ "ADMIRAL SAH MADE PREMIER OF CHINA; Chin Yun-Peng Is Not Expected to Return to Office--Government Has Trouble Over Low Funds". The New York Times. 1920-05-18. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-08.


External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by Acting Premier of the Republic of China
Succeeded by
Preceded by Governor of Fujian
Succeeded by
Zhang Zhen (張貞)
as acting director of the KMT Provincial Political Commission
Military offices
Preceded by Minister of Navy of the Great Qing
Dynasty ended
Preceded by Minister of Navy of the Republic of China
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Navy (nominal) of the Great Qing (restored)
Restoration failed
Preceded by Minister of Navy of the Republic of China
Succeeded by