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An Interpretative Account of Dr. Gao Jincheng


Ma Tianji

Born in mainland China, Ma Tianji (馬天濟) relocated to Germany during his formative years. After completing his university education in science, he received an MTh in Evangelical Theology from FTH Giessen, Germany. Since 2019, Tianji has been an integral part of the Beyond Borders Initiative of OMF. He is the inaugural chairman of the Research Foundation for Religion and Culture in Giessen and directs the East Asia Forum within this organization. Concurrently, Tianji contributes to academia as a visiting lecturer at the Lutheran Seminary in Taiwan.

An Interpretative Account of Dr. Gao Jincheng: Biographical Gap, Historical Context, and Narrative Construction

Mission Round Table 19:1 (Jan-Apr 2024): 27-32
To read articles in this edition, visit this post on Mission Round Table 19:1.

1.   Introduction

In the first part of the article, I focused on the life and service of Gao Jincheng (高金城), who was, according to numerous Christian reports, a pioneer of medical mission work in early twentieth-century China, including the region that is now Gansu Province.[1] In this interpretative paper, I delve into some intriguing, yet controversial, aspects of his life, particularly relating to his last years and his death. I further address the challenge of narrative construction. This necessitates a deeper engagement with some recent sources and research findings that contribute to Gao’s biographical portrait (Section 2). Crucial in this context is the comprehensive historical framework in which Gao’s person and work are embedded. Illuminating the complexity of the context allows for a crucial interpretive approach that paints a realistic and vivid picture of his life (Section 3). Certain inspirational aspects of Gao’s life only come to light when narrative constructions from perspectives of both Christian sources and the Communist Party of China (CPC) are deconstructed within their historical context (Section 4). A concluding section will sum up the merits of Gao.

2.   Gaps in Gao’s biographical details

As the previous article shows, details of Gao’s life were mainly documented by publications affiliated with the China Inland Mission. These and other Christian accounts conspicuously leave significant biographical gaps. Two examples can be mentioned to illustrate this. In his biographical portrait of Gao, Sik Pui Wong reported the chaotic conditions in the Gansu region from 1928 onwards.[2] In Wong’s view, these were caused by the military campaigns of Ma Zhongying (马仲英; 1910–37), a warlord during the Republican era.[3] Although Wong does not provide detailed information about the historical context, he strongly condemns Ma for the deaths of 200,000 people and for suppressing the population of Ganzhou and Gansu to the point of extreme poverty in his exploitation of both regions to be used as military and logistical supply stations.[4] The report concludes with a note that “the Trio”—Mildred Cable (盖羣英), Eva F. French (馮貴珠), and Francesca L. French (馮貴石)—were only able to escape death with great risk and effort and an extremely vague statement about Gao’s activities until the end of his life. He writes:

It is believed that Dr. Gao, this seasoned evangelist, in those days continued to travel through the Hexi Corridor, using the Ganzhou Church as a gospel station, tirelessly journeying to places like Suzhou, Pingliang, and Lanzhou, serving as a devoted medical missionary dedicated to Christ.[5]

Another version of Gao’s final years is provided by Li Yading, who seemingly focuses on Gao’s activity to rescue missionaries. Li emphasizes that Gao consistently utilized his social influence and relationship with the government for this purpose. Similar to Wong, Li’s final remarks on Gao’s life and activities in the 1930s are vague.

[W]e can surmise that Gao had freedom to come and go to help people in need and to rescue missionaries, so we may assume that he had left the military hospital by 1929. He probably continued to use his status as a medical missionary, based in the Ganzhou church, to traverse the region of Hexi corridor, all points in Gansu province, and anywhere else he was needed.[6]

A group of Ganzhou converts with Gao (standing, with an umbrella), China’s Millions, North American ed. (1922): 71.

In examining Christian sources, we find some final indications of Gao’s activities in the 1930s. An interview with Findlay Andrew, who actively assisted people who were victims of famine during the 1920s and 1930s in war-torn China—particularly in Gansu province—reports on Gao’s missionary work.

In one district which Dr. Kao visited for the last time at the end of August [1930] he was greeted by the village elders of a certain village with the news that the whole of that district had definitely accepted the Gospel which had been preached to them during the weeks of active relief operations.… Dr. Kao was taken to the ancestral hall of the clan of that village, and there over the main tablet in the centre of the road was a large yellow envelope, and on it was written “To the glory of the true God through Jesus Christ the Son.”[7]

This biographical gap is particularly significant as Gao’s final years, leading up to his presumed martyrdom, have been incorporated into a communist narrative. In a leading article in a publication from the eponymous museum established in Zhangye, it is claimed that Gao began to lose his Christian faith in the early 1930s (and embraced a strong faith in Communism) just months before he disappeared.[8] (See the discussion in the next section.) Furthermore, his dramatic heroic martyrdom was documented in Chinese secular sources that cannot be independently verified.[9] Pfister showed, based on a letter from Gao’s youngest son, Kao Shih-chieh, written to the museum, as well as through personal testimony documented in email correspondence with Kao Shih-chieh’s granddaughter, Linda Kao, that these claims from the CPC perspective are unsubstantiated.[10]

According to Kao Shih-chieh, the religious activities and devotional habits of his father were tied to his daily routine and included personal Bible reading, conducting regular morning and afternoon worship services, as well as family prayer—including thanksgiving—before meals and before bedtime. Crucial in this regard is the memory of Kao Shih-chieh that “these routines were deeply etched in his memory because of their consistency and certainly indicate that Dr. Kao was a very serious and disciplined Christian on the eve of his disappearance.”[11]

This disappearance, which presumably took place in early February 1938, ultimately remains a mystery, as it has not been documented by verifiable sources. Gao’s family members and a Christian friend have testified that he had suffered great personal loss by the early 1930s—the death of his eldest son Ying-chieh and his first wife.[12] Without a doubt, the tragic deaths of two close family members would have had a profound impact on Dr. Gao. However, according to his youngest son, Gao remained a very committed Christian leader to the end of his days.

The claim that Gao gave up his Christian faith can be doubted, as family members and close associates have stated that his second wife, Mou Yuguang (1895–1981), was a Christian.[13] Throughout the 1930s, he regularly journeyed back to Lanzhou with the purpose of establishing a new hospital. Upon the successful establishment of the hospital, Dr. Gao returned to Ganzhou in the fall of 1934. Resuming his medical-evangelist ministry in the Gospel Hall Hospital, he remained part of the distinctive Christian community amidst an increasingly tumultuous and politically volatile environment. Apparently, during this period, he encountered several Communist military leaders in various places due primarily to his medical work. In this context, Gao’s youngest son reports that his father willingly provided medical aid to several hundred wounded and needy soldiers of the Western Route Army.[14]

Did Gao remain a Christian or become a Communist? It becomes abundantly clear here that the final chapter of Gao’s life story is embedded in a historical context that has not been adequately scrutinized in either Christian or communist narratives.

3.   The turbulent 1930s—the historical context of Dr. Gao’s final years

It is noteworthy that Dr. Gao’s last phase of life and work in Gansu coincides with a turbulent transitional period, namely from the Warlord period (1916–27) to the First Chinese Communist Civil War (1927–37).[15] The end of the Warlord period—around 1927—witnessed heightened anti-Christian sentiment, exacerbating challenges for both foreign missionaries and their Chinese congregants across much of the country. The shift in sentiments occurred at a time when Gao’s missionary ministry was thriving, supported by the Trio in teaching and evangelism, as well as various local and itinerant individuals passing through Ganzhou.[16]

As extensively discussed in Section 3.5 of my earlier article, it was during this period that Gao encountered some of his most formidable challenges, primarily stemming from false accusations made against him by Wu Tongren. It is notable that this outlandish falsehood generated a widespread sense of public indignation, leading to the case gaining significant attention and was documented in detail in both Christian and Chinese sources. After this initial tumultuous period, which coincided with the deterioration of his health during captivity, Gao became even more entangled in the political disputes between the warlords, the National Revolutionary Army, and the emerging Chinese Red Army. This happened when he was appointed by the warlord, Feng Yuxiang—“the Christian General”—to support the work of the Red Cross.

In the spring of 1928, the National Revolutionary Army, led by warlord Feng Yuxiang, arrested and executed Ma Bao, a member of the so-called Ma clique, in Hezhou, Gansu. (The Ma clique, or Ma family warlords, is a collective term referring to a group of Hui (Muslim Chinese) warlords in Northwestern China who governed the Chinese provinces of Qinghai, Gansu, and Ningxia for a decade, from 1919 to 1928.[17]) Upon learning of this, Ma Zhongying, who was studying at the Qinghai Military Academy, led some friends in rebellion. They attacked a convoy of the National Revolutionary Army, seized a large number of weapons, and, upon reaching Hezhou, rallied tens of thousands of local people to establish the armed force “Black Tiger Brigade against Feng’s army.” Ma Zhongying proclaimed himself commander and besieged Hezhou three times, with the result that 10,000 died.[18] After the Warlord Era, the Ma clique aligned first with the Kuomintang and fought against the Red Army during the Long March and later engaged with the Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Mission House at Ganzhou, in Mildred Cable and Francesca French, Dispatches from North-west Kansu (London: CIM, 1925), 68.

The complexity of the situation increased with the onset of the first Chinese Communist Civil War that affected the entire nation. Dr. Gao and the Christian community in Ganzhou faced substantial cultural pressure, grave threats, and poignant losses. Drought and famine had struck the area in 1930, making the political situation particularly challenging.[19] The eyewitness account from the Trio reveals the unimaginable horror in Ganzhou that also had a profound impact on the churches there.

At the present time Islam rules and militarism is rampant. It is the peasants’ privilege to feed, warm and clothe a large army, while he and his family are often without food, clothes or firing…. Incendiarism, pillage, rape and murder has been the order of the day.… The Kanchow Church has passed through much tribulation since the happy days of our first coming there. We are still too close to events, which broke in a storm of persecution on the Church, to measure the effect on the large number who professed and called themselves Christians.[20]

It is known that in the same year, other Chinese doctors and Christian citizens were attacked by Muslim-led armed forces in the southern Gansu town of Qinzhou, resulting in the death of over 4,000 people, including Dr. Wu Baoying (1897–1930), a Christian graduate of Borden Memorial Hospital.[21]

Throughout this turbulent time, Dr. Gao, who remained in the public eye due to his numerous social connections, faced a deep ethical-political dilemma. To what extent should he take sides in such a chaotic time? What is the ultimate ethical responsibility of a Christian, especially a Chinese medical missionary? Xian refers to “necessary compromises” that Gao had to make due to his diverse socio-political relationships, but fails to provide specific examples.[22] It was ultimately, though indirectly, his political entanglements that led to his family tragedy. According to Gao’s youngest son, his eldest brother, Ying-chieh, took his own life in anger when the family refused to approve his marriage to a daughter of a warlord with whom he had developed a love relationship. This, in turn, likely prompted the death of Gao’s first wife due to depression.[23]

The question arises as to why, following his youngest son’s statements, Dr. Gao would not openly embrace the Communist Party but would assist the wounded of the Red Army. It can be reasonably deduced that Gao’s central concerns likely remained unchanged: the establishment of hospitals in various locations in Gansu, aiding the injured, especially civilians, and evangelism.

Pfister points out that Gao’s decision to align himself with Communist armed forces, passing through the Ganzhou region in 1937 and early 1938, is connected with the Second United Front (1937–41) collaboration between the Nationalist and Communist forces to oppose the Japanese.[24] Another reason for Gao’s possible sympathy for the Red Army is the increasing fear expressed by the broad population about the cruelty of the regionally dominant Muslim political Ma clique and its forces.

There is no indication in the available sources that Gao was interested in the ideological and political conflict between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party. Rather, Gao seems to have acted out of a kind of Christian-motivated pragmatism. The immense losses of the Communist Army while fighting the local Muslim-led armies prompted him to provide medical support out of Christian charity. According to the narrative promoted by the Communist Party, Gao and other doctors played a major role in helping over two hundred soldiers in the Gospel Hall Hospital recover from their injuries, a feat that ultimately made him a national hero in the history of the Communist Party.

The disappearance and death of Gao in 1938 were also incorporated as constitutive elements of this narrative. It is claimed that Gao was murdered by Han Qigong (韓少功, 1886–1951), a subordinate of General Ma Bufang, who also served as a local municipal leader in Ganzhou. After examining various sources and witness accounts to the veracity and historical reliability of details of Dr. Gao’s final days, Pfister concludes that the communist source “does not contain sufficient evidence to confirm how Dr. Kao disappeared and died…. many questions remain about the claim that Han Qigong and those under his authority tortured and murdered Dr. Kao…. It is at best a clever speculation, rather than a confirmed or confirmable historical fact.”[25] In this context, the problematic aspect of narrative construction, both from the Christian and the Communist Party’s perspectives, raises questions about the potential distortion of a historically authentic image of Gao.

4.   Gao as exemplary Christian or Communist martyr? – Problematic aspects in narrative constructions

From both Christian and CPC perspectives, efforts have been made to highlight the heroic aspects of Dr. Gao’s life, but with different emphases. Whereas Christian sources emphasize his creative and passionate medical-evangelistic missionary work, the communist narrative accentuates his self-sacrificing rescue efforts for communist soldiers and alleges martyrdom despite the lack of concrete evidence. The public shaping and construction of such narratives are built upon certain prototypes and standard schemas of what a hero is like within a particular context. Cultural scripts shape a hero’s experiences so that they align with preferred cognitive frameworks influenced by political, religious, and cultural biases. These schemas guide interpretation and filter information, potentially leading to overlooking certain information or misrepresenting aspects of a hero’s character.

As Pfister rightly points out, the depiction of Gao’s life results in “a twofold distortion.”[26] Christian narratives tend to omit the political complexities he faced in the late 1930s, portraying his Christian heroism without referencing the social challenges he encountered. As a result, the difficult choices that he and other moral leaders, including Christians, must make are passed over without comment. The CPC narrative is designed to exalt Gao as a “Chinese Communist hero” by emphasizing his association with Communist military officials in 1937–1938. This narrative involves mythification, particularly by constructing a cruel death under unverifiable circumstances. Such ideological claims raise concerns about the accuracy and reliability of the historical account.

Dr. Gao, in Cable and French, Dispatches from North-west Kansu, 68.

The common purpose of such narratives is to meet the expectations of the implicit readership through the interpretative “smoothing” of the life story. Thus, Wong’s brief biography of Gao traces his childhood encounter with CIM missionaries and his path into medical service are narrated with great storytelling skill and detail (see also Section 3.1 of my earlier paper). Not only are positive character traits such as the intelligence and diligence of the young Gao repeatedly emphasized, but also the first and last encounter with Hudson Taylor shortly before his death is vividly depicted in moving tones. Finally, his commitment to the Christian faith from the beginning is highlighted. The story is permeated with a Christian vocabulary and Christian narrative logic, which highlights Gao’s trust in God and presents his life path as steered by divine guidance, whether in his early encounter with Edward Bevis’s family or in other ways. “This is the guidance of the Heavenly Father, leading him to this compassionate and wise family…. Whether in the field, by the roadside, or even under the stars and moonlight, as long as he was alone, he earnestly prayed to the Heavenly Father.”[27]

Interestingly, the communist narrative similarly emphasizes positive character traits such as intelligence and diligence. It also includes the following anecdote which is not found in any of the Christian sources.

Once, while cleaning the room of the British missionary [Mr. Bevis], he found a gold coin, promptly returned it, and as a result gained the appreciation of the British missionary [Mr. Bevis]. From then on, [Mr. Bevis] taught him English.[28]

Important for this narrative is Gao’s personal moral integrity. Indeed, this emphasis not only resonates with the general Chinese moral principle of honesty—拾金不昧[29]—but especially aligns with communist values. Nevertheless, the portion covering the first thirty years of Gao’s life is significantly shorter in comparison to the narrative from the late 1920s onward, which particularly focuses on Gao’s multifaceted involvement with the Chinese Red Army.

A clear overlap between the Christian and the communist historiographical narratives lies in the depiction of Gao’s generous helpfulness and tremendous popularity among the common people.[30] Both narratives similarly relate the warlike brutality of the Ma Clique, as well as the unjust accusations and arrest of Dr. Gao. However, their interpretations and intentions differ significantly. The Christian accounts emphasize Gao’s heroic efforts to rescue Chinese Christians and missionaries who faced cruel persecution within the context of political turmoil. By contrast, communist historiography portrays the Ma Clique—aligned with the Kuomintang—as the enemy of the Red Army, with Gao depicted as their friend, comrade, and eventually a communist martyr-hero. It is important to note that while the Christian narrative remains silent on Gao’s political entanglements, the communist narrative excessively elaborates on the part that seemingly justifies Gao’s shift from Christianity to communism and ultimately his martyrdom.

It is evident that the conclusion, the end of a narrative, plays a prominent role as it not only succinctly concludes the narrative but also prompts a final assessment, whether positive or negative. In Section 3.6 of my first article and Section 2 of this one, various versions of Gao’s final years were discussed from the perspective of the Christian sources. Vague statements suggest that Gao remained a faithful follower of Christ and a medical missionary until the end without acknowledging his involvement in the complex political situation. In contrast, a version from the perspective of the CPC vividly portrays the dramatic end of Gao as an avowed communist.

On September 6th, when Qiu Junpin [secretive member of the Communist Party] learned that Han Qigong had already noticed the frequent activities of Red Army personnel and was preparing to arrest people, Gao Jincheng also received similar news from higher-ups. On the evening of the next day, the party branch still held a meeting in the small building of the Gospel Hall, deciding to send Liu Desheng [secretive member of the Communist Party] to Lanzhou again to report the situation. When Liu Desheng left, he asked Gao Jincheng, “Do you have anything to say to the party?” After a long period of contemplation, Gao Jincheng said solemnly, “I firmly believe in communism. When I get to Yan’an, please tell the Central Committee that I request to join the Chinese Communist Party!” After sending off the Red Army members around him, Gao Jincheng continued his rescue work. In the early morning of February 3, at 4 a.m., Han Qigong deceived Gao Jincheng into the Grand Yamen for interrogation under the pretext of treating an illness. Gao Jincheng faced death with resignation and fearlessness, and he was finally secretly killed in the garden behind the Grand Yamen, at the age of 52.[31]

Such a martyr’s death fits well into the overall narrative from the perspective of the CPC, although the authenticity of this account cannot be independently verified.

The problematic nature of such narrative constructions is evident. The Christian narrative largely omits the historical-political context, especially in the last decade of Gao’s life, seemingly to maintain the ideal image of a pure Chinese missionary. The communist narrative commits to a one-sided focus on Gao’s political involvement with the Red Army, glorifying his medical assistance to communist soldiers and his alleged martyrdom. Pfister concludes in his essay that “Both of these dimensions of Dr. Kao Gin-cheng’s virtuous and heroic life should be recognized and appreciated.”[32]

As positive as one may want to be towards accepting these vastly different narratives, a significant question arises regarding the justification of emphasizing certain aspects of his story. The omission or amalgamation of the actual context provides a tendentially easily understandable identification-friendly black-and-white narrative but obscures inspirational elements of Gao’s life. In this context, the crucial question arises as to which truly heroic aspects are reflected in his life.

It is evident that the heroism of Dr. Gao did not only emerge in the last two years of his life, as the communist perspective suggests, but was already evident when he and his first wife made the decision to move to Gansu and become medical evangelists. This heroic aspect underwent development over time, though it was obscured by narrativization. As the political situation escalated with the transition from the Warlord period to the First Chinese Communist Civil War and later the Second Sino-Japanese War, Gao found himself increasingly in a political-ethical dilemma. His commitment to justice led to six months of imprisonment. As a physician with a good reputation, he had to serve warlord Feng Yuxiang and navigate dealings with various political figures, which likely required wise flexibility that transcends existing ideological-political divides. Herein lies the genuinely heroic aspect of Gao. Amidst all the political turbulence, he did not lose courage. He continued, with all his ability, to advocate for the vulnerable, needy, and oppressed out of Christian mercy. This mercy was expressed toward communist soldiers, despite the option of doing nothing and the great risk of making ethically questionable decisions due to deep political entanglement.


Dr. Gao, as a medical-evangelistic missionary, undoubtedly stands among the legendary figures of China in the 1920s and 1930s, a period marked by political turbulence during the Warlord period, the First Chinese Communist Civil War, and the first few years of the Second Sino-Japanese War. The available data is insufficient to produce a reasonably accurate reconstruction of his entire life story, especially with regard to his mysterious disappearance and death. Narrative constructions from both Christian and CPC perspectives affirm Gao’s medical capabilities and moral integrity in the form of justice and mercy. However, they sometimes present a distorted, idealized image due to contextual confusion and obscure inspirational moments in Gao’s life. From the testimonies of family members and friends, it is evident that routine Christian practices played a central role in Gao’s life until his disappearance. It is also clear that his life and work, his family, his Christian community, and medical co-workers in Ganzhou, had an undeniable impact on the lives of numerous people throughout the region of central Gansu Province during this turbulent period. His courage, keen sense of justice, and compassionate love for the poor, wounded, and oppressed inspire us to do the same amidst the turbulent changes we face.



[1] Ma Tainji, “Pioneer CIM Medical Missionary or Communist Martyr? The Unusual Story of an Influential Chinese Christian Dr. Gao Jincheng (高金城),” Mission Round Table 18, no. 3 (October-December 2023): 34–39, (accessed 21 February 2024).

[2] 黃錫培, 捨命的愛: 中國内地會宣教士小傳 [Sik Pui Wong, Sacrificial Love: Portraits of CIM Missionaries], 2nd ed. (Petaluma, CA: CCM, 2007), 193–94.

[3] Ma Zhongying grew up in Gansu in the 1920s, experiencing earthquakes, droughts, famines, the widespread use of opium, and battles of the Chinese Civil War, especially by Feng Yuxiang’s armies. In contrast to the Christian General Feng, Ma supported the Yihewani movement, which was closely associated with the Muslim Brotherhood at the time. At a young age, Ma commanded troops during the so-called Muslim conflict in Gansu from 1927 to 1930. See Vincent Goossaert and David A. Palmer, The Religious Question in Modern China (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2012), 65; James A. Millward, Eurasian CrossroadsA History of Xinjiang (New York: Columbia University Press, 2017), 192. Lipman describes the turbulent period. “It did not escape unscathed, however, from the warlord battles that plagued the region. After Feng Yuxiang took titular command of the northwest, local commanders of all ethnicities scrambled to accommodate his powerful outside army. Hoping to drive Feng away from Taoxi and Huangzhong, Ma Zhongying, the Little Commander, a Xining Muslim adventurer from Ma Qi’s family, raided the entire Hezhou region in the late 1920s, attacking Hezhou three times, and then fled southward toward Taozhou with thousands of young Muslim men, eager to plunder.” Jonathan N. Lipman, Familiar StrangersA History of Muslims in Northwest China, Studies on Ethnic Groups in China (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014), 196.

[4] Wong, Sacrificial Love, 193–94.

[5] Wong, Sacrificial Love, 194. The original Chinese text is: “高医生这位福音老将,深信当日还在河西走廊上以甘州教会为福音站,继续奔走来往肃州、平凉和兰州等地,作忠于基督的医生传道.”

[6] Li Yading, “Gao Jiancheng,” trans. G. Wright Doyle, Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity,; 李亚丁 “高金城,” 華典, (accessed 11 December 2023).

[7] “An Interview with Mr. Findlay Andrew,” China’s Millions, British ed. (1932): 6–7.

[8] 陳金榮, 姚興宏 主编, 祈連忠魂高金城高金城與張掖人民營救紅西路軍將士事蹟  (張掖: 高金城烈士紀念館 , 2012) [Chen Jinrong and Yao Xinghong, eds., Qilian’s Faithful Gao Jincheng: An Account of Gao Jincheng and the People of Zhangye Rescuing the Red Army (Zhangye: The Hero Gao Jincheng Memorial Museum, 2012)], 13.

[9] “高金城,” 百度百科 [“Gao Jincheng,” Baidu Baike],高金城/6316801 (accessed 11 December 2023).

[10] Lauren F. Pfister and Jihua Liu, “An Indigenous CIM Medical Missionary and National Hero: Unveiling Complexities in the Story of Dr. Kao Gin-Cheng,” in Shaping Christianity in Greater China: Indigenous Christians in Focus, ed. Paul Woods, Regnum Studies in Mission (Oxford: Regnum, 2017), 135–36.

[11] Pfister and Liu, “An Indigenous CIM Medical Missionary and National Hero,” 136. Details of the correspondence with Linda Kao are given at the end of that article.

[12] Pfister and Liu, “An Indigenous CIM Medical Missionary and National Hero,” 141–42.

[13] Chen and Yao, Qilian’s Faithful Gao Jincheng, 112–13, cited in Pfister and Liu, “An Indigenous CIM Medical Missionary and National Hero,” 142.

[14] The Western Route Army, formed in October 1936, refers to the main force of the Red Fourth Front Army of the Red Army. In compliance with the resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the Western Route Army crossed the Yellow River in order to occupy Gansu and Ningxia. However, due to command errors, obsolete equipment, and the lack of a base, the majority of the Western Route Army was routed near the Qilian Mountains five months later. 李菁, “曾经被遮蔽的西路军历史与还原历史的艰难历程,” [Li Qing, “The Obscured History of the Western Route Army and the Challenging Process of Restoring the Historical Narrative”], 四川在线文摘周报, 2009年07月14日, (accessed 11 December 2023).

[15] The periodization follows Christopher R. Lew and Edwin Pak-wah Leung, Historical Dictionary of the Chinese Civil War, 2nd ed., Historical Dictionaries of War, Revolution, and Civil Unrest (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2013).

[16] Evangeline French, Mildred Cable, and Francesca French, “The Far North-West: A Circular Letter (From Liangchowfu, Kansu, April 11, 1924),” China’s Millions, British ed. (August 1924): 126–28; Evangeline French, Mildred Cable, and Francesca French, “Progress in the Far North West: A Circular Letter (From Kanchow, Kansu, July 8, 1924),” China’s Millions, British ed. (November 1924): 170–72.

[17] Jonathan Neaman Lipman, Familiar StrangersA History of Muslims in Northwest China (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1998), 258. After the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1912, the region fell under the control of Chinese Muslim warlord Ma Qi until the Northern Expedition by the Republic of China established centralized control in 1928. The Ma clique, named after the common Hui rendering of the Muslim name “Muhammad,” consisted of three families, each controlling specific areas: Gansu, Qinghai, and Ningxia. The three most notable members were Ma Bufang, Ma Hongkui, and Ma Hongbin, collectively known as the Xibei San Ma (西北三馬—“the Three Ma’s of the Northwest”). Other prominent figures in the Ma clique included Ma Buqing, Ma Anliang, Ma Qi, Ma Lin, Ma Hushan, and the aforementioned Ma Zhongying.

[18] Lipman, Familiar Strangers, 196.

[19] “The Advance Challenged,” Editorial Notes, China’s Millions, British ed. (July 1930): 115, (accessed 4 January 2024).

[20] Mildred Cable, Francesca French, and Evangeline French, A Desert Journal: Letters from Central Asia (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1949), 156–57, (accessed 4 January 2024).

[21] Wong, Sacrificial Love, 198–208.

[22] 咸娟娟 “传教、医疗与政治:博德恩医院的创建与西北基督教传播研究,” 国际学刊2014年第六期,91–100 [Juanjuan Xian, “Missionary, Medicine and Politics: On the Creation of the Borden Memorial Hospital and Research of Northwest Christian Propagation,” International Journal of Sino-Western Journal 6 (2014): 91–100], (accessed 5 March 2024).

[23] These statements are derived from the email correspondences between Pfister and Linda Kao. See Pfister and Liu, “An Indigenous CIM Medical Missionary and National Hero,” 142.

[24] Pfister and Liu, “An Indigenous CIM Medical Missionary and National Hero,” 143.

[25] Pfister and Liu, “An Indigenous CIM Medical Missionary and National Hero,” 146. Detailed arguments on this point can be found in the corresponding section in Pfister.

[26] Pfister and Liu, “An Indigenous CIM Medical Missionary and National Hero,” 148.

[27] Wong, Sacrificial Love, 184. Chinese: “這是天父的引导,讓他走進這個既仁慈又有智慧的家。… 無論在田裏、路邊、甚至繁星月下,只要是獨自一人,他便懇切地向天父祈求。”

[28]  “高金城,”百度百科. Chinese: “一次打扫英籍传教士赵立民房间,拾到一块金币,随即归还,因此受英国传教士赵立民的赏识,自此赵立民一直教他学英语。”

[29] The Chinese expression “拾金不昧” (shijinbumei) can be translated as “pick up gold without revealing it” or “finding money and not keeping it for oneself.” This idiom is often used to praise someone’s honesty and integrity. It reflects the virtue of a person who, upon finding valuable items or money, chooses to return them to their rightful owner instead of keeping them for personal gain. In essence, it signifies a high level of moral character and a commitment to doing what is right, even when it may be tempting to act otherwise.

[30] See “高金城,” 百度百科 and Wong, Sacrificial Love, 192.

[31] “高金城,” 百度百科 . Chinese: “9月6日,邱均品得知韩起功已察觉红军人员活动频繁,要准备抓人,高金城也从上层人物那里得到类似消息,次日晚,党支部仍在福音堂小楼召开会议,决定再派刘德胜去兰州汇报情况,刘德胜走时,问高金城:对党有什么要说的?高金城沉思良久,郑重地说:“我坚信共产主义。到了延安,请转告中央,我要求加入中国共产党!” 高金城送走了自己周围的红军后,继续开展营救工作。1938年2月3日(旧历正月初四)凌晨4时,韩起功以治病为由将高金城骗到大衙门内进行审讯,高金城视死如归、临危不惧,最后被秘密杀害在大衙门后花园内,终年52岁。”

[32] Pfister and Liu, “An Indigenous CIM Medical Missionary and National Hero,” 150.

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