Wang Yintai

Name in Chinese
Name in Wade-Giles
Wang Yin-t'ai
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Biography in English

Wang Yin-t'ai (14 July 1888-15 December 1961), German-trained lawyer who was counselor of the law drafting bureau at Peking in 1914-19. He later held a variety of positions at Peking, becoming minister of foreign affairs in 1927. During the Sino-Japanese war, he held office in the Japanese-sponsored government in north China. Born in Shaohsing, Ghekiang, Wang Yint'ai received his early education in the Chinese classics at local schools. In 1902 he went to Japan and entered the First Higher School. Upon graduation in 1906, he went to Germany, where he enrolled in the law department of Berlin University. In 1909 Tuan-fang (ECCP, II, 780-82) commissioned him to make a study of the German constitutional system and local government, thus providing Wang with an opportunity to pursue practical research beyond that usually done by an undergraduate. Wang received his LL.B. degree from Berlin University in 1912, the year that the Chinese republic was established. Upon his return to China early in 1913 he was engaged as an editor-translator in the law drafting bureau of the Peking government. He soon was promoted to the post of editor-compiler of the law compilation commission and then was made counselor of the law drafting bureau. For a time, he also was professor of law at Peking University.

Wang served as counselor of the law drafting bureau for seven years, from 1914 to 1920. The degree of his participation in the bureau's work varied, for he also served at various times on government commissions concerned with the civil service and the diplomatic and consular service. In 1917, when the question of China's participation in the First World War became a political issue at Peking (for details, see Tuan Ch'i-jui), Wang's own role in the government took on a partisan character. After war was declared by China in August, Wang became a legal adviser to the office of the custodian of enemy property. He thus was closely associated with the powerful pro-Japanese elements in Tuan Ch'i-jui's coterie, particularly Ts'ao Ju-lin and Hsu Shu-cheng (qq.v.). Later that year, he was attached to the mission in Japan that was negotiating matters pertaining to the socalled Nishihara loans. He remained in Japan until mid-1919.

Upon his return to China in 1919, Wang Yin-t'ai was appointed legal counselor to the office of the high commissioner for northwestern frontier development, serving under Hsu Shucheng. In October, he accompanied Hsu to Urga (Ulan Bator), where Hsu forced the Mongol leaders to "petition" Peking to accept the renunciation of Mongolian autonomy and to organize a new government at Urga. Hsu was made rehabilitation commissioner for Outer Mongolia, and in 1920 Wang became the director of the general affairs office of the commander in chief of the Northwest Frontier Defense Army, the commander in chief being Hsu. Wang appears to have remained in Urga after Hsu's downfall in 1920, and he presumably retreated to Siberia at the time of the White Russian occupation of Urga, led by Baron von Ungern-Sternberg, in February 1921. He then went to Manchuria and entered the service of Chang Tso-lin (q.v ). After assisting Yang Yü-t'ing (q.v.) in the organization of the Mukden arsenal, Wang became an adviser to Chang Tso-lin in the headquarters of the Fengtien Army.

In January 1922 Wang Yin-t'ai returned to Peking to become counselor to the civil service bureau in the cabinet headed by W. W. Yen (Yen Hui-ch'ing, q.v.). Power struggles and changes of administration notwithstanding, he remained in Peking. In November 1922 he resumed his old post of counselor of the law drafting bureau. He served as a member of the Chinese delegation to the Customs Tariff Revision Conference at Peking in late 1925 and early 1926. He also held office as vice minister of foreign affairs in the short-lived regency cabinet of Tu Hsi-kuei. In June 1927 Chang Tso-lin, who then held power at Peking, proclaimed himself Ta-yuan-shuai, or generalissimo of China. On 20 June, Wang became minister of foreign affairs in the new cabinet organized by P'an Fu. He assumed the post of minister of justice in June 1928, just a few days before the Northern Expedition reached Peking. At the time of the Nationalist victory, Wang accepted a post as managing director of the Exchange Bank of China. In 1930 he went to Shanghai and established a private law practice.

Wang Yin-t'ai returned to public life in 1938 as minister of industries in the Japanesesponsored provisional government at Peiping. He also served on that regime's economic consultative commission. With the establishment of the Japanese-sponsored government at Nanking headed by Wang Ching-wei (q.v.) in 1940, the Peiping regime was reorganized as the north China political council. Wang served as director general of the board of industries and as a member of the council's standing committee. He held those posts until the Japanese surrender in 1945.

In October 1945 Wang Yin-t'ai was arrested at Peiping on charges of collaboration. He later was sentenced to death, but the sentence was reduced to life imprisonment by Chiang Kai-shek. As a political prisoner, he was left in jail at the time of the Nationalist downfall, and he remained there under the Communists for more than a decade until his death on 15 December 1961. During his lengthy confinement, Wang became an assiduous student of Buddhism. He also worked on a German- Chinese dictionary.

Wang Yin-t'ai was married to Ruth Kettner, the daughter of a German Lutheran minister. They had six daughters: Suzanne, Ruth, Linda, Didi, Billa, and Liana. All of the children went to live in the West. Wang Yün-wu Orig. Chih-jui

Biography in Chinese

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