On the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937, Hu participated in the defense of Shanghai in Jiangsu (Kiangsu) Province as commander of the First Army. In 1938, he received command of the Seventeenth Army Group and was responsible for military training in northwest China, with headquarters at Xian (Sian), Shaanxi (Shensi). He was assigned the dual task of resisting the Japanese in north China and containing the Communists in northern Shaanxi, where he became the center of the powerful "Huangpu clique" in Chinese military politics. In 1939, he commanded the Thirty-Fourth Group Army. In 1943 he received command of the First War Area comprising Hebai (Hopei), Northern Shandong (Shantung), Henan (Honan), Anhui (Anhwei), and Shaanxi.
In the spring of 1944, the Japanese began their ichi-go Campaign, which was aimed at removing China from the war. Hu's forces were hit hard but were able to prevent the Japanese from entering Shaanxi Province. In 1945, at war's end, Hu traveled to Zhengzhou (Chengchow) in Henan Province to accept the surrender of the Japanese forces.
After the war and Jiang's order to go on the offensive against the Communists, Hu marched into northern Shaanxi and captured Yan'an (Yenan) in March 1947. This victory marked the high-water mark of Nationalist achievement in the Chinese Civil War. As his forces became isolated from other GMD troops and supplies, they were eventually routed and then wiped out during 1949 by the Communists. Hu and a small group of advisers escaped to Hainan Island and eventually made their way to Taiwan. He served the Nationalist government in Taiwan as commander of the guerrilla forces on Dachen (Tach'en) Island and ended his career in command of Nationalist forces in the Penghus (Pescadores). He retired in late 1959 and died in Taipei on 14 February 1962. Errol M. Clauss
Ch'i, Hsi-sheng. Nationalist China at War: Military Defeats and Political Collapse, 1937–45. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1982.; Eastman, Lloyd. Seeds of Destruction: Nationalist China in War and Revolution, 1937–1949. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1984.
Errol M. Clauss