Great Unifying Commander

March 11, 2010

As the last post mentioned, the term 水師提督 is no longer used to refer to an admiral in the People’s Republic of China navy; the rank died along with the Qing Empire. Instead, when the PRC was first formed the highest rank in its navy (and more) is 中華人民共和國大元帥, which translates to “Great Marshal of the People’s Republic of China”. Taken separately 大元帥 translates to “great/big”, “unifying” (as in “unifying theory” in physics”) and “commander in chief”, which is taken to mean the same thing as “Generalissimo”. Famous people who had a military rank include Joseph Stalin, whose name is really “Joe Steel” and would be the first entry in Epic Russian Things if such a blog existed.

Now, what about that missing picture on the post? Well, the problem is that the PRC never had a 大元帥. The only person who ever qualified for the rank was Mao himself and he declined. So it sat there unused; it was later abolished presumably because the title was too epic and the Party had to prevent the Chosen One from obtaining that title and therefore supreme power to overthrow the Communist Party in a glorious battle involving an army of terra cotta robot warriors, ghost dragons and a strange lady with a sword hiding in the Yellow River.

The story is a little different in the Republic of China, where founding father Sun Yat-sen did in fact have the title 大元帥. However, like the President of the United States he was merely the commander of the armed forces because he was the executive leader of the country so it was not a rank but more something he just did and could put in his resume if he needed another job.

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2 Responses to “Great Unifying Commander”

  1. Diana Says:

    My first entry for Epic Russian Things would be the actual Russian word for a rollercoaster: “Americanski Gori,” literally “American Mountain.”

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