Biography in English

Soong, T. V. Orig. Sung Tzu-wen 宋子文 T. V. Soong (4 December 1894-), Harvard-trained financier who was the prime mover in the establishment of a modern financial system in China. He served the National Government in such capacities as minister of finance, vice president and president of the Executive Yuan, governor of the Central Bank of China, and minister of foreign affairs. He also founded and developed such enterprises as the China Development Finance Corporation.

The third child and eldest son of Charles Jones Soong (q.v.), T. V. Soong was born in Shanghai. He received thorough training in both the Chinese classics and modern subjects while a student in the preparatory and college divisions of St. John's University and then went to the United States to enroll at Harvard College. After being graduated from Harvard in 1915 with a B.A. in economics, he went to New York, where he worked at the International Banking Corporation and took courses at Columbia University. He returned to China in 1917 and became secretary of the Han-yeh-p'ing iron and coal complex, which was composed of a steel mill at Hanyang, iron mines at Tayeh, and coal mines at P'inghsiang. Before long, he became active in trade and banking circles in Shanghai.

In October 1923 Sun Yat-sen, who had married T. V. Soong's elder sister Soong Ch'ing-ling (q.v.) in 1914, recruited T. V. Soong to serve as manager of the salt administration in Kwangtung and Kwangi, an important source of revenue for Sun's government. Sun then called on him to investigate the chaotic financial situation in Kwangtung in the hope that he could bring order to it. One result of this investigation was the establishment, in August 1924, of the Central Bank at Canton. Under T. V. Soong's management, the bank made immediate improvements in the financial situation, and in 1926 it undertook the financing of the early stage of the Northern Expedition. In addition to his responsibilities at the bank, Soong served with Chiang Kai-shek, T'an P'ing-shan, Sun Fo, and others on a committee for food control. As a relative of Sun Yat-sen, he was summoned to Peking in late January 1925 to witness Sun's last testament. He attended Sun's funeral in March 1925 before returning to south China.

T. V. Soong was named minister of finance in the newly established National Government at Canton in September 1925, a month after his predecessor, Liao Chung-k'ai (q.v.), had been assassinated. In January 1926, at the Second National Congress of the Kuomintang, he was elected to the Central Executive Committee and was named minister of commerce. Shortly thereafter, he was appointed to the National Government (State) Council. The year 1926 also saw Soong's baptism in international diplomacy: he was sent to Hong Kong to negotiate with British authorities about settlement of the anti-British strike that had paralyzed the colony for several months. In November 1926, after the Northern Expedition forces had occupied Wuhan, the National Government decided to send a five-man delegation to Wuhan to investigate the possibility of moving the government there. In addition to T. V. Soong, the team included Eugene Ch'en, Hsu Ch'ien, Sun Fo (qq.v.), and Soviet adviser Borodin. Accompanied by Soong Ch'ing-ling, they traveled to Wuhan by way of Nanchang, where they held discussions with Chiang Kai-shek at his military headquarters. After the arrival of the Kuomintang leaders from Canton in December, it was decided at Wuhan to organize a provisional joint session of the Kuomintang Central Executive Committee and the National Government Council to serve as the interim authority pending transfer of the National Government to Wuhan. On 21 February 1927 it was announced that Wuhan would be the seat of the National Government. This decision was confirmed at the third plenum of the second Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang, held at Hankow from 10 to 17 March. The Wuhan regime, dominated by the left wing of the Kuomintang and strongly influenced by Russian and Chinese Communists, was headed by Wang Ching-wei (q.v.), who returned to China from Europe at the beginning of April. T. V. Soong held many important posts at Wuhan. He was minister of finance, a member of the standing committee of the 28-man Government Council, a member of the 15-man Military Council, and a member of the Kuomintang Political Council.

In April 1927 Chiang Kai-shek and his conservative supporters inaugurated a rival government at Nanking. Just before this development, the Wuhan regime had dispatched T. V. Soong, Eugene Ch'en, and Sun Fo to Shanghai to review the situation and to ask leaders in the Shanghai area to come to Wuhan. Ch'en and Sun turned back mid-way in the journey, but Soong continued on to Shanghai. He tried without success to reconcile the supporters of Wang Ching-wei and the supporters of Chiang Kai-shek. Because he was unable to return to Wuhan — the Nanking regime controlled the Yangtze — he decided to remain in Shanghai.

Chiang Kai-shek retired from office in August 1927 to promote party unity. On 1 December, he married T. V. Soong's sister Soong Mei-ling (q.v.). At the beginning of 1928 he resumed leadership of the National Revolutionary Army, and T. V. Soong was named minister of finance in the National Government at Nanking. His family relationship with T. V. Soong benefitted Chiang in his rise to power, for it was mainly through Soong that the National Government came to have the backing of the powerful bankers and businessmen of Shanghai. Soong also was the key figure in the establishment of a modern financial system. Soon after T. V. Soong assumed office at Nanking, he revealed that the monthly revenue receipts of the National Government were less than China $3 million, while expenditures exceeded China $ll million. The provinces of Kiangsu and Chekiang, which constituted the richest economic region in China, provided the bulk of the government revenues. Within three months, Soong had increased monthly revenue collections in this region to China $10 million. About this time, the Central Bank of China was established at Shanghai, with Soong as its governor.

In June 1928 at Shanghai T. V. Soong convened a national economic conference, to which he invited China's leading bankers, financiers, and industrialists. A month later, a national finance conference met at Nanking to formulate specific policies on the basis of the general decisions taken at the Shanghai meeting. A program aimed at restoration of China's tariff autonomy also began to take form. On 25 July, Soong and John Van Antwerp MacMurray, the United States minister to China, signed an agreement in principle giving complete national tariff autonomy to China. Similar agreements were signed with other Western nations between November 1928 and May 1930. In February 1930 the National Government officially began to practice tariff autonomy.

Perhaps the most important financial reform instituted by T. V. Soong was the abolition of the likin tax. Although this levy had given rise to many abuses and had long been considered a major instance of bad government, repeated attempts to do away with it had failed. On 31 December 1930 Soong announced its abolition as of 1931, and he enforced that decision. The financial policies of T. V. Soong and the support he won for the National Government played an essential part in the victory of Chiang Kai-shek in a series of civil wars in 1929-30. The importance of Soong's role and the significance of his contributions were reflected in the fact that several attempts were made on his life by rivals. In mid-1931 the Legislative Yuan decided to float a domestic relief bond issue in the amount of China $80 million. When T. V. Soong's strong opposition to this measure was ignored, he resigned in protest.

On 28 May 1931 a group of Kuomintang dissidents established an opposition national government at Canton as a direct result of the arrest of Hu Han-min (q.v.) by Chiang Kai-shek. Civil war threatened until September 1931, when the contending Kuomintang factions were reunited by a national crisis, the Japanese attack on Mukden. When the National Government was reorganized in December 1931, Sun Fo, the new president of the Executive Yuan, asked T. V. Soong to be minister of finance in his cabinet, but Soong declined. Sun's failure to win the support of Soong and the Shanghai financial community was an important factor in the almost immediate collapse of his cabinet.

Wang Ching-wei (q.v.) succeeded Sun Fo as president of the Executive Yuan on 28 January 1932. That very night, fighting broke out between Japanese troops in the Shanghai area and the Chinese Nineteenth Route Army (for details, see Ts'ai T'ing-k'ai). T. V. Soong played an indirect role in this encounter. As minister of finance, he had built up a well-equipped force of revenue guards for use in intercepting smugglers. This unit later became the New First Army of Burma campaign fame. When hostilities began in Shanghai, the revenue force joined with the Nineteenth Route Army in fighting the Japanese. Ts'ai T'ing-k'ai, the Nineteenth Route Army's commander, later stated that Soong also gave money to the Chinese forces during the crisis.

In February 1 932 T. V. Soong was reappointed governor of the Central Bank of China, and in April of that year he became vice president of the Executive Yuan and minister of finance. His active presence in this government was an important factor in the temporary establishment of political equilibrium in Nationalist China and of what became known as the Chiang-Wang coalition, with Chiang Kai-shek in control of the military and Wang Ching-wei at the head of the civil administration of the National Government. In the 1932-33 period T. V. Soong accomplished another major reform in China's fiscal system: the abolition of the tael and the establishment of the silver dollar (yuan) as the standard legal tender of China.

From October 1932 to March 1933, while Wang Ching-wei was in Europe, T. V. Soong served as acting president of the Executive Yuan at Nanking. In April 1933 he went to London to attend the World Economic Conference. After that meeting, he visited Geneva, where he succeeded in stationing a liaison officer for technical aid to China. He then went to the United States, where he secured a cotton and wheat loan of U.S. $50 million on 23 August. Soon afterwards, Soong returned to China.

In October 1933 T. V. Soong resigned from his posts as vice president of the Executive Yuan, minister of finance, and governor of the Central Bank of China. One important reason for his resignation was his disagreement with Chiang Kai-shek over high military expenditures and the issuing of new bonds by the National Government. Soong retained his membership in the standing committee of the National Economic Council, but he devoted most of his time to entrepreneurial endeavors. In June 1934 he founded the China Development Finance Corporation, the stated aim of which was to promote and develop industry and commerce in China by encouraging foreign investment and by developing the domestic money market. Before and during the Sino- Japanese war, the development of rail networks was a prime concern of the corporation, and it negotiated loans on behalf of the National Government with British, French, and other foreign banks for this purpose. None of the railways was completed, however, because of the severe disruptions caused by the Sino- Japanese war. The China Development Finance Corporation also initiated negotiations with American firms in the mid-1930's in the hope of establishing rayon, paper, fertilizer, truck, and rubber factories in China. His resignation from National Government posts notwithstanding, Soong remained close to the centers of power in China. When the Bank of China, the nation's largest and most important private bank, was ordered to reorganize on 1 April 1935 in a move which placed it under the direct control of the National Government, Soong replaced Chang Kia-ngau (Chang Chia-ao, q.v.) as its chairman. He held that post until 1943.

At the time of the Sian Incident of December 1936 (see Chiang Kai-shek; Chang Hsueh-liang), T. V. Soong, as a relative of Chiang and a friend of Chang, played an active role in the negotiations that led to Chiang's release. Afterward, Soong reportedly was greatly angered because assurances of the non-punishment of Chang Hsueh-liang were not honored. Nevertheless, the Sian Incident was the prelude to Soong's re-entry into the political arena. In June 1937 he went to Canton and Wuchow to direct the reorganization of the financial structures of Kwangtung and Kwangsi. He flew to Lushan to report to Chiang Kai-shek just before the Sino-Japanese war broke out in July. Soong moved with the National Government to Chungking, where in March 1938 he became acting chairman of the National Aeronautical Affairs Commission, headed by Chiang Kai-shek. In mid- 1940 Soong was appointed Chiang Kai-shek's personal representative in the United States, and in February 1941 he succeeded in negotiating a credit of U.S. $50 million from the United States government against exports of metals. In April 1941 he represented China in negotiations which led to the granting of a second credit of U.S. $50 million.

With the outbreak of the War in the Pacific in early December 1941, China became a wartime ally of the United States and Great Britain. Because of his success as Chiang Kai-shek's representative in Washington, T. V. Soong was made minister of foreign affairs in the National Government. He was still in the United States at the time of his appointment. In January 1942, on behalf of China, he signed the 26-nation agreement at Washington that pledged the Allied powers not to make separate peace treaties with enemy nations. This agreement paved the way for the inclusion of China as one of the so-called Big Four nations, the others being the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union. In February 1942 Soong concluded negotiations for a major credit loan of U.S. $500 million from the United States, and in June of that year he signed the Sino-American Lend-Lease Agreement. T. V. Soong returned to Chungking in the autumn of 1942 to assume office as minister of foreign affairs (Chiang Kai-shek had been acting as foreign minister pending Soong's return). In January 1943 the United States and Great Britain signed treaties with China in which they relinquished extraterritoriality and other special rights in China. Other Western nations soon followed this precedent. Although executed at a time when much of China was under Japanese control, the new treaties were widely represented by Chungking as the realization of one of the major aims of the Kuomintang. Soong was particularly gratified that the abolition of the principle of extraterritoriality took place during his tenure of office as minister of foreign affairs. Soong went to Washington again in February 1943 to see President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and in March of that year he met with British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden while Eden was visiting Washington. After a brief trip to Canada in April, Soong flew to London in July for discussions with the British government on postwar planning. He was received by King George VI on 27 July. In August, he participated in the discussion of the Burma campaigns at the Quebec Conference. After his return to China in October 1943, T. V. Soong often welcomed and briefed official visitors from the United States. Among these visitors was Vice President Henry A. Wallace, who visited China in June 1944. In September 1944 Major General Patrick J. Hurley and Donald M. Nelson, chairman of the War Production Board, arrived in China on a special mission. Hurley attempted to serve as a mediator in the burgeoning Nationalist- Communist conflict. Soong was among those Nationalist leaders who strongly opposed the concept of coalition government with Communist participation. In December 1944, when H. H. K'ung left China on a mission to the United States, T. V. Soong became acting president of the Executive Yuan. In March 1945 it was announced that Soong would head the Chinese delegation to the United Nations Conference on
International Organization at San Francisco. When that meeting convened on 25 April, he was elected one of its four chairmen. The Chinese delegation at San Francisco was interesting in that one of its members was the Chinese Communist Tung Pi-wu (q.v.), whom T. V. Soong had known at Wuhan in 1927. While in the United States, Soong met with President Harry S. Truman to discuss Far Eastern problems and postwar Sino-American cooperation.

T. V. Soong was appointed president of the Executive Yuan on 31 May 1945. He returned to Chungking on 20 June and assumed office five days later, retaining his post as minister of foreign affairs. His major task at this time was the negotiation of a Sino-Soviet treaty of friendship based on an American commitment to Russian influence in Manchuria during the Yalta Conference. He arrived at Moscow on 30 June, and by 12 July he had met with Stalin several times. At this point, the talks were interrupted and Soong returned to Chungking, where on 20 July he reported to the People's Political Council on the Moscow negotiations. He strenuously objected to concessions to the Soviet Union in Outer Mongolia. On 30 July, he relinquished his foreign ministership to Wang Shih-chieh (q.v.). He returned to Moscow on 5 August, accompanied by Wang. This round of talks led to the signing on 14 August of the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Alliance and related agreements which, among other things, established a framework for the independence of Outer Mongolia. Despite strong opposition, the treaty was ratified by the Legislative Yuan.

By this time, the War in the Pacific had ended, with Japan defeated and the military forces of the Soviet Union in control of Manchuria. After General George C. Marshall arrived in China at the end of 1945 to confront the task of mediating between the Nationalists and the Chinese Communists, Soong spent much of his time in consultation with General Marshall and Chiang Kai-shek. But the American mediation effort soon failed—largely because of the bitter mutual suspicion that divided the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communists—and full-scale civil war erupted again in China in the summer of 1946. Meanwhile, the economic situation in Nationaliscontrolled areas of China was deteriorating rapidly. T. V. Soong was chairman of the Supreme National Economic Council, and he was forced to introduce emergency measures and restrictions that were unpopular in his attempts to bolster China's sagging economy. His efforts were unsuccessful. Moreover, there was increasing personal criticism of Soong at this time. In March 1947 he resigned as president of the Executive Yuan, though he continued to serve the National Government as a member of the State Council. In September 1947, despite opposition from the Control Yuan, Chiang Kai-shek appointed Soong governor and pacification commissioner of Kwangtung. When Chiang retired from the presidency in January 1949, Soong relinquished his posts at Canton. Soong, whose name was high on the list of so-called war criminals announced by the Chinese Communists, went to the United States and established residence in New York. T. V. Soong was an unusual figure in Chinese politics during the republican period. His Western ways made him unpopular with many Chinese, and his work was better known and more highly regarded by Westerners than by his compatriots. Because of his Harvard training, fluency in English, and ability to mix socially with prominent Westerners, he was regarded with suspicion by many Kuomintang and National Government officials. At the same time, he was hailed by Western observers as the possessor of the most astute financial mind in China, and he often was praised by Americans for his industry, efficiency, and courage. Soong also was criticized in China because of family relationships. Although he often was on less than cordial terms with Chiang Kai-shek and H. H. K'ung, he nevertheless was invariably associated with them as a target of public censure. The Chinese Communists in particular excoriated Soong as an unprincipled "compradore and bureaucratic capitalist" who utilized official position for personal gain. The extent of Soong's financial interests is unknown, but rumor credited him with a substantial private fortune. In his heyday, he sometimes was referred to as the J. P. Morgan of China. Soong initiated many new enterprises under the aegis of the China Development Finance Corporation and the Bank of China: the China Cotton Corporation, the South China Rice Import Corporation, the Bank of Canton (a private bank with Hong Kong registration), and the Yangtze Electric Company, among others.

In 1927 T. V. Soong married Chang Lo-yi, who was also known as Laura Chang. They had three daughters — Laurette, Mary-Jane, and Katherine — all of whom were raised and educated in the United States. In time, the Soongs also came to have nine grand-children.

Biography in Chinese



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