Last Of China's First Communist Generals Dies

The last of China's first group of generals under the ruling Communist Party has died at the age of 106, state media said Wednesday.

Lu Zhengcao, one of 55 senior officers promoted in 1955, when the People's Republic of China first adopted ranks after the communists came to power in 1949, died in Beijing on Tuesday, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Born in Haicheng in northeastern Liaoning province, Lu quit the rival Kuomintang party to join the Communists in 1937 after the war against Japan broke out, and led a force to fight the Japanese army in north China, Xinhua said.

He had previously been an assistant to the famous Nationalist, or Kuomintang, General Zhang Xueliang, known as the "Young Marshal."

As his assistant, Lu witnessed the Xi'an Incident of Dec. 12, 1936, where Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-Shek was captured by some of his own generals and forced to cooperate with the Communist Party to resist the Japanese.

Chiang was released and returned to the city of Nanjing, but Zhang was jailed for the following 50 years of his life until he was 90 for leading the kidnapping.