Biography in English

Wang K'o-min (1873-26 December 1945), sometime minister of finance at Peking and governor of the Bank of China who later became a member of the Hopei-Chahar political council. From December 1937 to March 1940 he headed the Japanese-sponsored government in north China.

Little is known about Wang K'o-min's family background or early life except that he was a native of Hangchow. After passing the examination for the chü-jen degree, in 1900 he received an appointment as a supervisor of the Chinese students sent by the Chekiang provincial government to study in Japan. His performance in that position earned him an appointment as councillor to the Chinese legation in Tokyo in 1902. Upon his return to China in 1907, Wang K'o-min worked for a time in the ministry of finance and the ministry of foreign affairs at Peking. Late that year, he joined the staff of Chao Erh-sun (q.v.), then governor general of Szechwan. He left Chao's service in 1908 to take a foreign-relations post in the secretariat of Yang Shih-hsiang, the governor general of Chihli (Hopei). In 1910 he became acting commissioner of foreign affairs in the Chihli government, and his appointment was confirmed in 1911. After the revolution, he was commended for his role in maintaining order and in protecting the safety of foreign nationals in Tientsin.

In the spring of 1913 Wang K'o-min resigned from office and went to Europe. He returned to China that October to become the Chinese managing director of the Banque Industrielle de Chine, a joint Sino-French undertaking which gave assistance to the Peking government. The bank's main office was located in Paris, but it possessed the right of note issue in China. Its capitalization was two-thirds French and onethird Chinese. Wang K'o-min's success in the managing directorship was such that in July 1917 he was appointed governor of the Bank of China. That December, he became minister of finance and director general of the salt administration in the cabinet of Wang Shih-chen (q.v.) at Peking. He resigned with the rest of the cabinet on 29 March 1918. Wang's next official assignment was as a Peking government representative to the unsuccessful peace negotiations with representatives of Sun Yat-sen at Shanghai early in 1919.

Wang K'o-min was reappointed governor of the Bank of China in 1922. Soon afterwards, he became involved in the so-called Gold Franc dispute. The French government demanded Boxer Indemnity payments in gold instead of the much-depreciated paper franc and persuaded the governments of Italy, Spain, and Belgium to make similar demands. Because of the heavy financial losses such an arrangement would entail, the Peking government was reluctant to yield to the demand. As an inducement to compliance, the French government promised to reopen the Banque Industrielle de Chine, which had been ordered closed in 1921 by its main office in Paris. The Chinese financiers who had deposited funds in the Banque Industrielle de Chine put pressure on the Peking government to accept the French demand. At this point, in December 1922, the Peking government referred the case to Wang K'o-min. He recommended acquiescence to the French demand, and his suggestion was approved by the cabinet on 9 February 1923. The decision caused a public furor, and the Parliament passed a resolution condemning the decision. Negotiations concerning payment were suspended until 1925, when the dispute was resolved in favor of payment in gold. The Banque Industrielle de Chine then was reorganized as the Banque Francaise- Chinoise pour le Commerce et l'lndustrie. In October 1923 Wang K'o-min resigned from the Bank of China. He then became acting minister of finance at Peking. When Sun Paoch'i (q.v.) assumed the premiership in January 1924, Wang was appointed minister of finance and director general of the salt administration. That October, when Feng Yu-hsiang (q.v.) staged a coup at Peking, he ordered Wang's arrest for his role in the Gold Franc case. Wang then fled to Manchuria, where he came under the protection of Chang Tso-lin (q.v.). He later became a financial adviser to Chang's son Chang Hsueh-liang (q.v.).

In May 1933 Wang K'o-min was appointed to the Peiping political affairs council, under the chairmanship of Huang Fu (q.v.). The council, with jurisdiction over the five northern provinces of China, had the delicate task of preserving the authority of the National Government in that area while dealing with Japanese demands and moves for greater control in north China. At the end of May, Ho Ying-ch'in (q.v.) and Huang Fu signed the Tangku Truce, which, by creating a demilitarized zone in east Hopei in exchange for Japan's withdrawal of its troops beyond the Great Wall, weakened China's ability to defend the vital Peiping-Tientsin area and created an opportunity for the Japanese to sponsor a puppet government in the demilitarized zone. Huang Fu left Peiping in the spring of 1935, and Wang K'o-min succeeded him as chairman of the council. Chinese sovereignty in north China was further undermined that summer with the conclusion of the so-called Ho-Umezu agreement {see Ho Ying-ch'in). The Peiping political affairs council was abolished in September 1935. Its functions were taken over in December by the Hopei-Chahar political council, chaired by Sung Che-yuan (q.v.). Wang I-t'ang, Ch'i Hsieh-yuan (qq.v.), Wang K'o-min and other former Peiyang officials who were known for their pro-Japanese sentiments were members of the council.

After the Sino-Japanese war began in July 1937, Wang K'o-min went to Hong Kong. In December, he returned to north China to head the so-called provisional government of the republic of China, which was established at Peiping under Japanese sponsorship on 14 December. It was composed of an executive committee, a legislative committee, and a judical committee. The executive committee, chaired by Wang, dominated the government, and its members held all the important posts in every department of administration. The legislative committee was composed of Wang K'o-min; T'ang Erh-ho (q.v.), who was minister of education; Chu Shen, who was minister of justice; Tung K'ang (q.v.), who was chairman of the judical committee; and Wang I-t'ang, who was minister of relief. On 20 January 1938 the hitherto autonomous east Hopei provincial government was incorporated into the provisional government of Peiping. On 10 March, the Peiping regime issued its own currency through the newly organized China United Reserve Bank. The new currency was expected to finance the government's operations, to undermine the value of the National Government's currency, and to secure raw materials for the Japanese at no greater cost than that of printing notes. The Peiping regime appointed a representative to Tokyo in March. Similar agents were appointed to Kobe in June, to Yokohama in July, and to Nagasaki in October. In the meantime, on 28 March 1938, the Wei-hsin, or reformed, government of China was established under Japanese auspices at Nanking. It was headed by Liang Hungchih (q.v.). That autumn, representatives of the two puppet governments met in Dairen and established a joint committee of the governments of China, headed by Wang K'o-min. It was to meet alternately at Peiping and Nanking and to coordinate and control communications, postal service, education, foreign affairs, customs, and transportation. The Japanese soon came to realize that Wang K'o-min and Liang Hung-chih lacked the personal prestige to compete successfully with Chiang Kai-shek for the loyalty of the Chinese people. After negotiations with Wang Chingwei (q.v.) in May 1939, the Japanese' decided that Wang would head a central government of occupied China at Nanking but that the provisional government at Peiping would retain its autonomy. Wang K'o-min and Liang Hungchih met with Wang Ching-wei on 18-20 September, and the joint committee announced its unanimous support of Wang Ching-wei on 21 September. In January 1940 a conference was held at Tsingtao to draft the organic laws for the new government at Nanking, which was established on 30 March 1940. The provisional government at Peiping became the north China political council, with Wang I-t'ang as its chairman. He was succeeded by Chu Shen on 8 February 1943. When Chu died on 2 July 1943, Wang K'o-min became the council's chairman. He held that post until the regime fell in August 1945.

At war's end, Wang K'o-min was arrested. He died in a Peiping prison on 26 December 1945.

Biography in Chinese

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