Biography in English

Liang Ch'i-ch'ao 梁啓超 T. Cho-ju, Jen-fu 卓如,任甫 H. Jen-kung 任公 Liang Ch'i-ch'ao (23 February 1873-19 January 1929), pupil of K'ang Yu-wei who became the foremost intellectual leader of the first two decades of twentieth-century China. A native of Hsinhui, Kwangtung, Liang Ch'i-ch'ao was the eldest son in a family which had been farmers for ten generations. His grandfather, the first of the family to become a sheng-yuan, had served as a district director of studies. His grandfather and his father gave the young Liang his first instruction in the Chinese classics. He soon demonstrated his precocity by becoming a sheng-yuan at the age of 11. In 1887 he enrolled at the famous Hsueh-hai-t'ang, an academy which had been founded at Canton some 70 years earlier by Juan Yuan (ECCP, I, 399-402), where he studied philology and textual criticism of the classics and their commentaries. In 1889, at the age of only 16, he passed the provincial examinations in Canton and became a chü-jen. His performance so impressed one of the examiners, Li Tuan-fen (1833-1907), that Li arranged a marriage between his younger sister Li Hui-hsien and Liang. Liang went to Peking in 1890 and took the metropolitan examinations, but did not pass them. On his way back to Canton, he passed through Shanghai, where he came upon a copy of Hsü Chi-yu's world geography, the Yinghuan chih-lueh, as well as translations of Western works published by the Kiangnan Arsenal. These books made a profound impression upon Liang, who soon became an enthusiastic advocate of "Western learning." After his return to Canton, Liang went with a fellow student at the Hsueh-hai-t'ang to visit K'ang Yu-wei (q.v.), who had recently attracted notice as the author of a memorial to the throne urging far-reaching reforms in the imperial administration. Liang and his friend were awed by K'ang's learning. They became the first of many students at his school in Canton. According to Liang, his association with K'ang from 1890 to 1894 was of crucial importance to his intellectual development. He became thoroughly familiar with the many facets of K'ang's teaching, which included Buddhism and a philosophy of institutional reform based on the Kung-yang school of classical interpretation as well as on Western subjects. In 1893 he became an instructor at K'ang's school. He went to Peking in 1892 and 1894 to take the metropolitan examinations, but failed them both times.

In 1895 Liang went with his teacher to the capital, where he again failed the examinations. At that time, the war with Japan was being brought to an end by the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which compelled the Ch'ing government to pay a large war indemnity and to cede Taiwan to Japan. Liang organized vigorous opposition to treaty ratification among the Cantonese examination candidates in Peking and assisted K'ang Yu-wei in drafting the famous "Kung-ch'e shang-shu" [candidates' memorial], which urged the emperor to reject the peace terms and to institute a number of reforms in the Ch'ing government. During the summer of 1895, Liang served the reform movement as secretary to the Ch'iang-hsueh hui [society for the study of national strengthening], founded by K'ang Yu-wei and others, and as one of the chief contributors to the society's reform newspaper Chung-wai chi-wen. When the Ch'ing government proscribed the Ch'iang-hsueh hui early in 1896, Liang's personal belongings were confiscated, and he was left penniless and homeless. In the spring of 1896 Liang Ch'i-ch'ao left Peking for Shanghai, where he met Huang Tsun-hsien (ECCP, I, 530-31), Wang K'ang-nien (1860-1911), and other reform sympathizers. They agreed to finance a magazine, the Shih-wu-pao, with Wang as manager and Liang as editor. Liang's articles and editorials, which appeared regularly from the first issue (August 1896) until the autumn of 1897, were well received throughout China. In them he expressed his ideas on education, historical progress, and various aspects of reform and Westernization in China. Although generally echoing the views of K'ang Yu-wei, Liang's writings in the Shih-wu-pao reflected the influence of several other intellectuals, including T'an Ssu-t'ung (ECCP, II, 702-5j and the British missionary Timothy Richard, both of whom he had met in Peking; Huang Tsun-hsien, the brothers Ma Liang (q.v.j and Ma Chien-chung (1844-1900), with whom he was associated in Shanghai; and Yen Fu (q.v.), the editor of the Kuo-wen pao in Tientsin, with whom he frequently corresponded. Liang also collaborated with friends in Shanghai in organizing an anti-footbinding society, a school for girls, and a publishing company the Ta-t'ung i-shu chüj. At the invitation of Ch'en Pao-chen {see under Ch'en San-li), the progressive governor of Hunan, Liang Ch'i-ch'ao went to Changsha in the autumn of 1897 to serve as chief lecturer at the newly established Shih-wu hsueh-t'ang [academy of current affairs]. In Hunan he met such reformers as T'ang Ts'ai-ch'ang (1867-1900), who was also a teacher at the academy, and Huang Tsun-hsien, the judicial commissioner of the province. Liang joined his friends in organizing a reform association, the Nanhsueh-hui [southern study society]. However, he gave most of his time to the academy and its 40 students, among whom was the future military leader Ts'ai O (q.v.). Liang sought to imbue his students with such political concepts as constitutional monarchy and popular sovereignty, ideas which then were considered extremely radical. The teaching of such ideas soon brought violent protest from the conservative scholars of Hunan. Early in 1898 Liang, who was in poor health, left Changsha for Shanghai. He went to Peking in March to assist K'ang Yu-wei in his efforts to promote reform. Liang worked to mobilize the examination candidates to protest the government's ceding of Dairen and Port Arthur to Russia, and he helped organize a new reform association, the Pao-kuo-hui [society for protecting the nation]. As the reform campaign gained momentum, he was recommended to the emperor and was granted an audience on 3 July 1898. The emperor conferred upon him the sixth official rank and placed him in charge of a newly authorized government translation bureau. During the Hundred Days Reform, Liang drew up a program for the translation of Western books and sought funds and personnel for the new bureau. When the empress dowager took control of the government and terminated the reform program on 21 September 1898, orders were issued for Liang's arrest. Japanese officials gave him refuge in the Japanese legation and helped him escape to Tokyo, where he was befriended by such prominent Japanese supporters of the reform movement as Inukai Tsuyoshi, the minister of education in the Okuma cabinet. In 1899 Liang began publishing a magazine, the Ch'ing-i pao, in which he urged the restoration to power of the imprisoned emperor and attacked the empress dowager and her supporters, including Jung-lu (ECCP, I, 405-9, and Yuan Shih-k'ai (q.v.). The new magazine quickly found favor among overseas Chinese. Despite the censorship effi^rts of the imperial authorities, copies of it were circulated in a number of cities in China. Liang's writings of this period reveal changes in his political philosophy. He had begun to study Japanese and to read Western books in Japanese translation. The influence of such works as John Stuart Mill's On Liberty and Jean Jacques Rousseau's Social Contract soon became evident in his essays. His growing hospitality to the ideas of republicanism coincided with overtures from representatives of Sun Yat-sen, who hoped to win the reformers over to his cause. However, in the summer of 1899 Liang agreed to support K'ang Yu-wei's new monarchist society, the Pao-huang hui [society to protect the emperor], and he became completely estranged from the revolutionaries. During the next few years, he traveled extensively to raise funds for K'ang's organization among overseas Chinese. In December 1899 he left Japan for Hawaü, where he remained until August 1900. He then hastened to Shanghai to take part in the Hankow uprising against the empress dowager's regime led by T'ang Ts'ai-ch'ang, but on learning that it had already been crushed, he left Shanghai to join K'ang Yu-wei in Singapore. From there he went to Australia on a fundraising tour, returning by way of the Philippines to Japan in the spring of 1901. Early in 1903, at the invitation of the American branches of the Pao-huang hui, Liang left Japan again for a tour of Canada and the United States. He lectured to Chinese groups in several major cities and visited President Theodore Roosevelt and Secretary of State John Hay in Washington. He returned to Japan in November.

Liang's observations of the American system of government and his impressions of the political behavior of Chinese both abroad and in China served to strengthen his developing conviction that China was quite unprepared for the freedoms guaranteed by a republican system and that the salvation of the Chinese lay less in a change of their political institutions than in their own renewal as a people. He had set forth these views for the first time in a periodical which he had founded in Yokohama in 1902, the famous Hsin-min ts'ung-pao [renovation of the people]. In his effort to bring new ideas before the Chinese people, Liang devoted many pages of the new journal to lucid and forceful articles on Western philosophers, historical figures, and political theories as well as discussions of China's traditional culture and its rejuvenation. The Hsin-min ts'ung-pao, which had a readership of more than 14,000 in 1906, came to exert considerable influence in overseas Chinese communities and in China. Liang Ch'i-ch'ao's writings in the Hsin-min ts'ung-pao also indicated that his thinking had begun to diverge from that of K'ang Yu-wei. For example, K'ang emphasized the necessity of preserving Confucian doctrine as the basis of China's cultural integrity; Liang, however, began to view traditional reverence for that doctrine as an obstacle to freedom ofthought and the development of new ideas in China. In spite of these differences, Liang continued to aid K'ang in defending the monarchist cause against mounting attacks in publications of the revolutionary party. After the Russo-Japanese war, some influential officials of the Ch'ing government favored reforms in China similar to those which had been instituted in Japan, and in 1905 a mission headed by Tuan-fang (ECCP, II, 780-82) was sent abroad to investigate the practice of constitutional government.' Liang Ch'i-ch'ao secretly communicated with Tuanfang and drafted several memorials for the mission. In the Hsin-min ts'ung-pao he intensified his campaign against the Chinese revolutionaries in Japan, who had organized themselves into the T'ung-meng-hui and had established the Min-pao [people's journal] as the organ of their party. Between 1905 and the summer of 1907, when Liang suspended publication of his journal, a prolonged and bitter battle of words took place between his magazine and the Minpao. After the Ch'ing court announced in 1906 that a constitution was in preparation, Liang organized a political society in Japan, the Cheng-wen-she (founded in the autumn of 1907) to foster the constitutional movement in China. Members of this society circulated mass petitions for the promulgation of a constitution and the convening of a parliament. Early in 1908 the Cheng-wen-she's headquarters was transferred to Shanghai, where the society, headed by Liang's old friend Ma Liang, published the political journal Cheng-lun, worked clandestinely with high officials at the imperial court, and planned the establishment of schools to train members in parliamentary government. These activities aroused the opposition of Yuan Shih-k'ai and other influential officials, who succeeded in having the Cheng-wen-she banned in the summer of 1908. Nevertheless, Liang's colleagues managed to establish contact with members of the newly created provincial assemblies in China by the end of 1909 and to promote the prompt convening of a national parliament in Peking. Early in 1910 Liang began to publish the Kuo-feng pao. He hoped to educate his countrymen in the workings of parliamentary government through articles which discussed representative political institutions in concrete terms. After the Wuchang revolt of 10 October 1911, Liang Ch'i-ch'ao went to Mukden in an unsuccessful attempt to enlist the aid of military commanders in north China in putting pressure on the Ch'ing court to institute genuine constitutional monarchy. When that effort failed, he joined K'ang Yu-wei in supporting the idea of "a republican government with a titular monarch" [hsü-chün kung-ho]. However, the republican revolutionary movement was not to be denied.

With the establishment of the republic in 1912, Liang Ch'i-ch'ao ended his political alliance with K'ang Yu-wei, not only by accepting the new regime but also by taking an active part in its political affairs. Through his journalistic endeavors of the preceding 15 years, Liang had come to be regarded by many of his countrymen as one of the intellectual leaders of modern China. Many of the proponents of parliamentary government looked to him for guidance in establishing a republican national assembly, and on his return to China late in September 1912 he was invited by men of diverse political opinions to join their groups. A further indication of his popularity at this time was the fact that the entire printing (10,000 copies) of the first number of his new magazine, Yung-yen [justice], was sold out as soon as it appeared. Before returning to China, Liang had been in touch with several friends in China, including Carsun Chang (Chang Chia-sen), Lin Ch'ang-min, and T'ang Hua-lung (qq.v.), with regard to the organization of a political party, and in October 1912 he took part in the formation of the Min-chu-tang [democratic party]. In February 1913 he also joined the Kung-ho-tang [republican party], which had already hailed him as its intellectual leader. In the parliamentary elections held early in 1913 Sun Yat-sen's Kuomintang emerged the victor, with the Kung-ho-tang as a poor second. With a view to forming an effective opposition to Sun's party in the National Assembly, Liang and his political colleagues arranged to merge the three other major parties, the Kung-ho-tang, the Min-chu-tang, and the T'ung-i-tang [united party], to form a larger organization, which they named the Chin-pu-tang [progressive party]. The new party supported Yuan Shih-k'ai in his struggle with the Kuomintang and supported his plans for a huge Reorganization Loan from an international banking consortium. After the so-called second revolution collapsed in the summer of 1913, the Chin-pu-tang replaced the Kuomintang as the most influential party in the National Assembly and Liang became minister of justice in a new cabinet headed by Hsiung Hsi-ling (q.v.), one of his old reform associates. Yuan Shih-k'ai soon dissolved not only the Kuomintang (4 November 1913) but also the National Assembly (10 January 1914). Liang followed Hsiung Hsi-ling's example in resigning his cabinet post, but less than two months later he accepted an appointment as head of Yuan's new monetary bureau [pi-chih chü]. In June 1914 he also became a member of the council of state [ts'an-cheng yuan], an advisory body created by Yuan to take the place of the National Assembly.

After accepting these appointments, Liang was chagrined to discover that his cooperation with Yuan Shih-k'ai had turned public opinion against him. His enemies, including members of the banned Kuomintang, accused him of despicable opportunism, and his friends accused him of naivete and misguided idealism. Moreover, it soon became obvious to him that his cherished hopes for the reconstruction of China would not be realized through participation in Yuan's regime. His proposals for standardizing and stabilizing the currency and his plans for compulsory education and military service were either deemed unacceptable or ignored. Accordingly, Liang moved to Tientsin and early in 1915 accepted an invitation to be the chief contributor to the Ta-Chung-hua. In his articles for this magazine he worked to arouse public opinion
gainst the acceptance of Japan's Twenty-one Demands by Yuan's government. Liang remained a nominal member of Yuan Shih-k'ai's government until the summer of 1915, but well before that time he had begun to have misgivings about Yuan's ambitions. Early in the year he had been approached by Yang Tu (q.v,), one of Yuan's followers, who had sought to enlist his support of a plan to make Yuan emperor. After spending several months in south China in 1915, Liang went to Peking in June, where Yuan Shih-k'ai assured him that he had no imperial aspirations. However, a campaign to make Yuan emperor was publicly announced in August. Liang, who had returned to Tientsin, denounced the newly created Ch'ou-an-hui, a monarchist society, and attacked its aim of replacing the republic with a new monarchy. Liang had been in frequent contact with his former student Ts'ai O and had joined with Ts'ai in making plans for a revolt against the monarchists. Liang and Ts'ai were supported by Ts'ai's friend T'ang Chi-yao (q.v.), the governor of Yunnan province. In mid- September, some weeks after Ts'ai O had gone to Yunnan, Liang Ch'i-ch'ao left Tientsin for Shanghai, where he spent the next two months attempting to induce other political and military leaders to join the revolt against Yuan Shih-k'ai. Early in March 1916 he traveled by way of Hong Kong and "Haiphong to Kwangsi to win the support of Lu Jung-t'ing (q.v.), the governor of Kwangsi. On 15 March, Lu announced his decision to join the rebels. After Yuan Shih-k'ai relinquished the throne and resumed the title of president on 22 March 1916, Liang and his associates demanded the restoration of the 1913 National Assembly. When Yuan ignored this demand, Liang helped to organize the southwestern military leaders into a military council, which, on 8 May at Chaoching, Kwangtung, announced its intention to act as the legitimate government of the country until such time as Yuan retired from the presidency and public life. After Yuan's death in June 1916 and the succession of Li Yuan-hung (q.v.) to the presidency, the military council was dissolved, and Liang again turned his attention to the affairs of the Chin-pu-tang.

After the National Assembly convened in Peking, the Chin-pu-tang split into factions. Liang Ch'i-ch'ao and some of his associates organized the Hsien-fa yen-chiu hui [association for constitutional research], popularly known as the Yen-chiu hsi [research clique]. As the leader of this group, Liang hoped to play an influential role in determining constitutional revision, the formation of the cabinet, and foreign policy. In the spring of 1917 he lent his support to premier Tuan Ch'i-jui (q.v.) in Tuan's efforts to bring China into the First World War on the side of the Allies. He also backed Tuan's successful move in July to crush the Manchu restoration organized by K'ang Yu-wei and the militarist Chang Hsün (q.v.). Later in the same month, he joined Tuan's new cabinet as minister of finance and turned his attention once again to the problem of currency reform. However, the expenditures required to finance Tuan's domestic military policies, together with Tuan's secret loan negotiations with Japan, completely wrecked Liang's hopes for a stable currency. He resigned in mid-November with the rest of the cabinet. By this time, he had become convinced that seeking China's regeneration in the existing political milieu was both futile and foolish. Accordingly, he spent most of 1918 in retirement, devoting himself to study, writing, and planning various educational projects.

Liang Ch'i-ch'ao had long wished to improve his knowledge of the West, and shortly after the end of the First World War he went to Europe in the capacity of an unofficial delegate to the Paris Peace Conference, traveling in the company of such friends as Carsun Chang, Chiang Fang-chen, and V. K. Ting. He arrived in London in February 1919 and spent the remainder of the year visiting the capitals of Western Europe. One result of his travels was a revision of his earlier admiration for Western civilization. For Liang, the war in Europe and its aftermath afforded clear evidence of a- basic social and intellectual malaise in the West which stemmed from its blind worship of science. He opposed Marxism, for he considered it to be as intellectually restricting as Confucianism. Because he believed that every individual should be free to develop his own thinking, he adopted the cause of "thought liberation" as one of his chief concerns.

While planning how best to achieve an intellectual and cultural regeneration in China, Liang and his friends in Europe and China organized the Hsin-hsueh-hui [new learning society] in September 1919. That group, which included Carsun Chang, Chang Tung-sun (q.v.), and Chiang Fang-chen, began publication of a periodical in Peking, the Chieh-fang yü kai-tsao [emancipation and reconstruction] (changed in September 1920 to Kai-tsao), which carried articles on a variety of new ideas from Western Europe and Russia by men of widely differing viewpoints.

In January 1920 Liang Ch'i-ch'ao left Europe. Upon his arrival in China two months later, he immediately embarked upon a number of cultural and educational projects. Among these were the Kung-hsueh-she [cooperative study society], formed to promote the translation and publication of important Western philosophical works, and the Chiang-hsueh-she [Chinese lecture association], organized for the purpose of inviting famous foreign thinkers, such as Bertrand Russell and Rabindranath Tagore, to lecture in China. These and other facets of his campaign for cultural reconstruction coincided with and to some extent contributed to the intellectual ferment of the May Fourth Movement, but they were not of central importance to it. Such younger men as Hu Shih and Ch'en Tu-hsiu (qq.v.) had replaced Liang and his contemporaries as the leaders of students and other younger intellectuals.

In 1920 Liang accepted an invitation to teach Chinese history at Xankai University in Tientsin, thus embarking upon a new academic career which lasted, with interruptions, until a few months before his death. He also lectured at Tsinghua University, Yenching University, and Tung-nan University at Nanking and produced such scholarly works as the Ch'ing-tai hsueh-shu kai-lun (1920), the Hsien-Ch'in cheng-chih ssu-hsiang shih (1922), the Chung-kuo li-shih yen-chiu fa (1922), and the Chung-kuo chin san pai-nien hsueh-shu shih (1924), as well as several studies of individual philosophers and historical figures. Liang continued to teach and write until an increasingly serious kidney ailment forced him to stop. He died in the hospital of Peking Union Medical College early in 1929, at the age of 55.

The most comprehensive collection of Liang Ch'i-ch'ao's works is the Yen-ping-shih ho-chi, published by the Chung-hua Book Company in 1936. It is composed of 16 volumes of literary works and 24 volumes of monographic writings and testifies to his stature as the foremost intellectual figure of the first two decades of twentiethcentury China. Liang Ch'i-ch'ao and Li Hui-hsien had five children. The second son, Liang Ssu-ch'eng (q.v.), became a well-known architect. The third son, Liang Ssu-yung (q.v.) won renown as an archeologist. Li Hui-hsien died on 13 September 1924.

Biography in Chinese



























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