Du Yuesheng

Name in Chinese
Name in Wade-Giles
Tu Yueh-sheng
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Biography in English

Tu Yueh-sheng (22 August 1888-16 August 1951), Shanghai secret society leader, banker, industrialist, philanthropist, and social celebrity who also was known for his personal contributions to the Nationalist war effort during the Sino-Japanese war.

The village of Kaochiao on the southern bank of the Whangpoo across from Shanghai was the birthplace of Tu Yueh-sheng. He was orphaned at an early age and was brought up by relatives who were poor peasants. As a youth of about 20, Tu, like many of his fellow villagers, crossed the river to seek his fortune in the great metropolis of Shanghai. He apprenticed himself to a fruiterer whose business was located near the waterfront of the French concession, a waterfront dominated by the Ch'ing-pang (Green Gang) . He began to associate with members of this secret society, and his resourcefulness, dexterity, and capacity for making friends soon came to the attention of its leaders. He soon became a protege of Huang Chin-jung, who then operated most of the smuggling syndicates. At this time (about 1912), opium smuggling was the most lucrative business in which the Chinese underworld engaged, and Huang was, therefore, a man of tremendous importance. He placed Tu in charge of one of the syndicates, and Tu made the most of this opportunity, becoming a powerful leader in the Green Gang. In 1924 a civil war developed between Ch'i Hsieh-yuan, the military governor of Kiangsu, and Lu Yung-hsiang, the military governor of Chekiang and a personal friend of Tu Yuehsheng. Lu controlled Shanghai even though it was part of Kiangsu. In September 1924, at his request, Tu raised a force of nearly 2,000 men to maintain order in Shanghai. Tu's abilities and -*.« influence thus came to the attention of political and military leaders in other parts of China. In 1925, after Lu finally lost the war, Tu organized a society for the relief of refugees. The National Revolutionary Army reached Shanghai on the Northern Expedition in March 1927. At this time, Tu Yueh-sheng came to the support of the conservative faction of the Kuomintang, led by Chiang Kai-shek. With the temporary rank of major general, Tu organized his secret society followers in opposition to the Communist-dominated labor movement at Shanghai. On 12 April, Tu and other supporters of Chiang, including the Twenty-sixth Army, undertook a bloody anti-Communist purge in which more than 100 were killed and several hundred were arrested and executed later. The incident made Tu a hero in some quarters and a villain in others.

By this time, Tu had proved himself to be a successful enterpreneur in legitimate business activities. He controlled the Chung Wai Bank, the Tung Wai Bank, and the Pootung Savings Bank; and he became a director of the Chinese Stock Exchange and the Chinese Cotton Goods Exchange in Shanghai. In 1928 he won the gratitude of a large part of the Shanghai population for his successful mediation in a dispute between the workers and the management of the electric and water utility in the French concession. Perhaps because of this episode, he was listed in the China Year Book as "the most influential resident in the French Concession, Shanghai." In January 1932 the Japanese attacked Shanghai. The stubborn resistance of the Nineteenth Route Army (see Chiang Kuangnai; Ts'ai T'ing-k'ai) to this attack brought world-wide renown to that Chinese force. Tu Yueh-sheng was a sponsor of the campaign to provide the Nineteenth Route Army with supplies and equipment, and he personally donated the money for two tanks. When the hostilities ended, the leaders of this campaign organized the Shanghai Civic Federation, with Shih Liang-ts'ai (q.v.) as its chairman and Tu as a vice chairman. When Shih was assassinated, Tu succeeded him as chairman. Tu Yueh-sheng's fame and influence reached their peak in the years immediately preceding the Sino-Japanese war. In 1936 he built an ancestral temple in his native village of Kaochiao. The inauguration ceremonies recalled scenes of the days of imperial pageantry, so great was the splendor. Guests and senders of gifts included National Government leaders, provincial governors, businessmen, industrialists, and bankers.

When the Sino-Japanese war, which began in July 1937, spread to Shanghai that August, Tu used the Shanghai Civic Federation to spearhead a resistance movement. He also offered the entire fleet of the Ta-ta Steamship Company, of which he was the chairman, to the National Government for blockading the lower reaches of the Yangtze. Toward the latter part of 1938 Tu was forced to leave Shanghai. He then went to Hong Kong, where he resided until the end of 1941 and continued to contribute to the Chinese war effort. As vice president of the Chinese Red Cross, he attended to the care of refugees from the Japanese-occupied areas. He also gave assistance to Chinese secret agents in occupied areas and helped coordinate their activities. In 1940, after T'ao Hsi-sheng (q.v.) and Kao Tsung-wu escaped to Hong Kong with a copy of Wang Ching-wei's secret agreement with the Japanese, Tu secured the release of three of T'ao's children, who were being held hostage in Shanghai. Fortunately for Tu, when the War in the Pacific began in December 1941 he was on one of his occasional trips to Chungking. He remained there for the rest of the war. Because he had established a textile mill and a flour mill in Chungking and a paper mill in Kunming in 1939, he was able to devote some of his attention to business. He held a few nominal posts in the National Government, but his chief interests were these mills and the development of the China Bank of Commerce. He also continued his work with the Chinese underground, and his activities in this area brought him into close association with Tai Li (q.v.).

At war's end, Tu Yueh-sheng returned to Shanghai on 3 September 1945. Because of his wartime efforts, he received a hero's welcome. He resumed his banking and industrial activities and became chairman of the board of directors of the Shun Pao. Early in 1949, on the eve of the Chinese Communist occupation of Shanghai, he moved to Hong Kong. He died there on 16 August 1951, at the age of 64 sui. His dying wish, that he be buried in Taiwan, was honored on 28 June 1953, when his remains were taken to Taiwan and buried in a village near Taipei. Tu Yueh-sheng was survived by his second wife, three secondary wives, eight sons, and three daughters.

In his lifetime, Tu Yueh-sheng became an almost legendary figure. He has been described as a gangster, a knight errant, a protector of the weak, a patron of the talented, and a patriot. He was, perhaps, a little of each.

Biography in Chinese











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