Wu Dingchang

Name in Chinese
Name in Wade-Giles
Wu Ting-ch'ang
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Biography in English

Wu Ting-ch'ang (1884-August 1950), banker, newspaper publisher, and government official. After holding banking and financial posts at Peking in 1912-19, he headed the Yien-yieh Bank and the Joint Treasury of north China's four leading banks. In 1926-34 he also was chairman of the board and director of the Ta Kung Pao and the Kuo-wen enterprises. Wu then served as minister of industries (1935-37), governor of Kweichow (1938-44), and chief secretary of the National Government (1945-47). Although his native place was Wuhsing, Chekiang, Wu Ting-ch'ang was born in Suiting, Szechwan, where his father was serving as an officer. After receiving his early education in the Chinese classics under private tutors, he entered the Tsun-ching shu-yuan in Chengtu in 1896. Soon afterward, he passed the examinations for the sheng-yuan degree. In 1901 he went to Japan and enrolled at Tokyo Higher Commercial College, from which he was graduated in 1909. When the T'ung-meng-hui was established in 1905, Wu was one of its founding members. He returned to China in 1911 to become general manager of the Penhsi Coal Company in Manchuria. He later served as branch manager of the Ta Ch'ing Bank in Kiangsi.

In 1912, soon after the establishment of the Chinese republic, the Ta Ch'ing Bank was reorganized as the Bank of China in accordance with suggestions made by Wu Ting-ch'ang. The new scheme envisaged the continued recognition of private stocks subscribed by investors, the expansion of private capital through new subscriptions, and the cancellation of the bank's government shares, which were used to compensate for losses sustained during the revolution. Sun Yat-sen appointed Wu director of the new bank in February 1912. Unfortunately for Wu, Yuan Shih-k'ai succeeded Sun as provisional president soon afterwards, and Yuan's minister of finance, Chou Hsueh-hsi (q.v.), refused to adopt many of-Wu's suggestions. In December 1912 Wu resigned from the directorship of the Bank of China.

For the next seven years, Wu Ting-ch'ang served the Peking government as director of the Central Mint (1913-14), vice minister of agriculture and commerce (1914-15), and vice minister of finance (1917-19). He was removed from office in 1920 when the government of Tuan Ch'i-jui (q.v.) fell. Wu then became chairman of the board and general manager of the Yien-yieh Bank. His interest in the American banking system led him to advocate the cooperation of private banks to centralize reserves and thereby bolster public confidence in note issuance. In January 1923 the Yien-yieh Bank, the Kincheng Banking Corporation, the Continental Bank, and the China and South Seas Bank pooled their resources to establish the Joint Treasury and the Joint Savings Society. The four banks, which came to be known as the pei ssu-hang [four northern banks], helped circulate the banknotes which they alone, under the new arrangement, had the power to issue. Wu served as general manager of the Joint Treasury until 1935.

In 1926 Wu Ting-ch'ang entered the field of journalism. He formed a holding company, the Hai-chi Company, which purchased and reorganized the Ta Kung Pao in Tientsin and the Kuo-wen enterprises. Wu served as chairman of the board and director of the Ta Kung Pao, with Hu Lin (q.v.) as general manager and Chang Chi-luan (q.v.) as chief editor. The new enterprise was a financial as well as a journalistic success, and a Shanghai edition of the Ta Kung Pao was established in April 1936.

Wu Ting-ch'ang joined the National Government in 1935 as minister of industries and director of the National Economic Reconstruction Movement Association. In keeping with his personal credo, he severed all of his connections with banks, newspapers, and other private enterprises. Wu made a number of significant contributions to the economic reconstruction of China. He helped establish an agricultural credit administration to promote rural marketing cooperatives and to supply farm credit loans, and he expanded the activities of the national bureau of agricultural research {see Shen Tsung-han). To promote foreign trade, he established the China Vegetable Oils Corporation and the China National Tea Corporation, and he streamlined the operations of the bureau of commodity inspection in order to standardize exports. He also founded the national bureau of industrial research and promoted the establishment of new industries. In his economic policy, Wu was guided by the principles of equalization of wealth and localization of enterprises in order to curb state capitalism, state monopolies, and the overconcentration of capital. To achieve these goals, he arranged for the sinking fund of the agricultural credit administration to be supplied by various banks. Similarly, banks and private industry supplied the capital for a joint company for marketing manufactured goods, and the capital of the vegetable oils and tea companies was subscribed by the ministry of industries, provincial governments, and private merchants. At the end of 1937 Wu Ting-ch'ang was appointed governor of Kweichow. In addition to being land locked and poor in natural resources, Kweichow was plagued by illiteracy, opium cultivation, and malnutrition. Wu instituted a crash program to replace the production of opium poppies with wheat and tobacco, to establish public health services in every hsien, and to set up some 5,000 public schools. With funds from the National Government, the Kweichow provincial government, banks, and private investors, he established the Kweichow Enterprise Company. It managed utilities, mines, manufacturing of consumer goods, agricultural processing industries, transportation, insurance, and construction industries, but it did not interfere with the operations of private enterprises in the province. Agricultural cooperatives were established at the hsien level. Wu made great strides in Kweichow, but at considerable cost to his health. His ailments finally forced him to resign in the winter of 1944.

In 1945-47 Wu Ting-ch'ang served as chief secretary of the National Government and the Central Planning Board. He became chief secretary of the presidential office after the elections of 1948. Ill health forced him to resign at the end of 1948, and he went to Hong Kong at the beginning of 1949. Wu died of cancer at Hong Kong in August 1950.

Wu Ting-ch'ang's writings included Chungkuo hsin ching-chi cheng-ts' e [China's new economic policy], published as a pamphlet in 1926; "Chung-kuo hsin chin-jung chih-tu" [China's new fiscal system], which appeared in the Kuo-wen chou-pao in 1926; and Hua-cKi hsien-pi, a volume of reminiscences about his life as an administrator which was written and published while he was governor of Kweichow.

Biography in Chinese

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