Biography in English

Wu Chih-hui (25 March 1864-30 October 1953), scholar and educator, social reformer and revolutionary, anti-Communist and longtime associate of Ts'ai Yuan-p'ei, Chang Jenchieh, and Li Shih-tseng. They came to be identified as the "four elder statesmen" of the Kuomintang. Wu was also known for his efforts to standardize the Chinese spoken language.

Yanghu hsien (Wuchin), then the seat of Changchow prefecture in Kiangsu province, was the birthplace of Wu Chih-hui. Yanghu had a great literary tradition in the Ch'ing dynasty which almost rivalled that of T'ungcheng, Anhwei. Wu came from a scholarly family, and his mother was a member of the Tsou clan of Wusih. She died in 1870, leaving her bedridden husband, Wu Chih-hui, and a daughter. Two other children had died in infancy. Because Wu Chih-hui's father, who died in 1900, was unable to care for Wu and his sister, they went to live with their maternal grandmother in Wusih. The young Wu received a traditional education in the Chinese classics. In 1887, at the age of 23 sui, he passed the examination for the sheng-yuan degree. Two years later, he was admitted to the Nanch'ing Academy at Chiangyin. The director of the academy was the well-known scholar Huang I-chou, whose motto, "stick to the truth, and never be a compromiser," so impressed Wu that he adhered to it throughout his life. In 1891 Wu Chih-hui achieved the chü-jen degree. He sat for the chin-shih examinations the following year, but failed them. Two more attempts, in 1894 and 1895, also brought no success. After the third failure, Wu went to Shanghai and became a tutor in the household of the noted scholar Lien Ch'uan. In 1897 Wu went to Tientsin to teach Chinese at Peiyang University, where he made the acquaintance of K'ang Yu-wei and Liang Ch'i-ch'ao (qq.v.), leaders of the constitutional reform movement. Although Wu agreed with many of the precepts of the constitutional reform movement, he still clung to the traditional concept of unswerving loyalty to the reigning sovereign. In any event, he resigned from the university just before the Hundred Days Reform began in 1898. He returned to Shanghai and joined the staff of the Nan-yang kung-hsueh, the predecessor of Chiao-t'ung University. The Boxer Uprising and its aftermath brought Wu Chih-hui to a more radical way of thinking. He formulated three slogans in 1901 : in any dispute between the emperor and the subjects, help the subjects; in any dispute between teachers and students, help the students; and in any dispute between fathers and sons, help the sons. In line with these slogans, he proposed to Chang Yuan-chi (q.v.), the new principal, that the school be administered jointly by the faculty and the students. When Chang refused the suggestion, Wu resigned. Chang then awarded him a fellowship for study in Japan. Wu went to Tokyo in May 1901, where he shared living quarters with Niu Yung chien (q.v.), whom he had known at the Nan-ch'ing Academy. When Niu went to call on Sun Yat-sen, Wu refused an invitation to go along, for he was still far from being a revolutionary. Late in 1901 Wu and Niu were recommended by Liu Erh-k'uei (later the editor of the Tsuyuan) to go to Canton to help T'ao Mo, the governor general of Kwangtung and Kwangsi, establish a college and a military school. After completing this task, Wu and Niu were assigned by T'ao in April 1902 to escort a group of 26 students from Canton to Japan. One of the members of this group was Hu Han-min (q.v.). In July, Wu came into conflict with Ts'ai Chun, the Chinese minister to Japan, who refused to recommend some students for admission to Japanese military schools. As a result of this quarrel, the Japanese authorities decided to deport Wu. On his way to Kobe, under police escort, Wu attempted suicide by jumping into a canal, but the police rescued him. At this time, Ts'ai Yuan-p'ei (q.v.), a former colleague of Wu at the Nan yang kung-hsueh, was vacationing in Japan. Fearing that Wu might attempt suicide again. Ts'ai cut short his holiday to accompany Wu back to Shanghai.

Soon after his arrival in Shanghai, Wu Chihhui joined with Ts'ai Yuan-p'ei, Chang Ping-lin (q.v.), and others in forming the Chung-kuo chiao-yu hui [China education society] to promote modern education in China. The society soon became a center for clandestine revolutionary activity. In November, it established a school, the Ai-kuo hsueh-she [patriotic society], with Ts'ai Yuan-p'ei as its principal and Wu as a member of its teaching staff. One of the students at the school was Chang Shihchao (q.v.), who became editor in chief of the Su-pao in May 1903. The staff of the Ai-kuo hsueh-she contributed articles to the Su-pao which reflected strong anti-Manchu sentiment. As a result, the Ch'ing government ordered the suppression of the newspaper and the arrest of Chang Ping-lin, Tsou Jung ( 1 885-1 905 ; ECCP, II, 769), and others associated with it. Wu Chih-hui managed to escape from Shanghai, but Chang and Tsou were arrested.

Wu Chih-hui made his way to Edinburgh, Scotland, where he spent about six months. Early in 1904 he moved to London. The following year, he met Sun Yat-sen and Chang Jen-chieh (q.v.) in London and became a member of the T'ung-meng-hui. He moved to Paris in 1906 and joined Chang Jen-chieh and Li Shih-tseng (q.v.), whom he had met in Shanghai in 1902, in founding the Shih-chiehshe [world society], a revolutionary publishing house with an affiliated printing establishment. In June 1907 they began publishing the Hsin shih-chi [new century]. It was edited by Wu, and it reflected the flirtation he and Li were having with anarchism. The magazine issued 121 numbers before suspending publication on 21 May 1910. By the time it ceased publication, Wu had returned to London. With financial aid from Chang Jen-chieh, he had brought his family out of China in May 1909. His wife and their son and daughter—Wu Shu-wei (1896-) and Wu Meng-fu (1899-)—lived in London for the next 17 years.

After the republican revolution began in October 1911, Wu Chih-hui helped Sun Yat-sen draft various documents during Sun's short stay in London on his way back to China. Wu went back to China in January 1912, after Sun was installed as provisional president of the republican government. He stayed at Sun's headquarters for a time. In June, he went to Peking at the invitation of Ts'ai Yuan-p'ei, then minister of education, to promote the adoption of phonetic symbols for Chinese characters. Wu later was appointed director of the conference on the unification of pronunciation which convened at Peking on 15 February 1913. Also in 1912, Wu helped launch the thrift-study program in France (for details, see Li Shih-tseng). With the collapse of the so-called second revolution in September 1913, Wu Chih-hui and other Kuomintang leaders were forced to flee China. Wu rejoined his family in London. In 1915 he went to France to help Li Shih-tseng launch the work-study movement. Wu returned to China after Yuan Shih-k'ai's death in June 1916 to become editor of the Chung-hua jih-pao at Shanghai. The following summer, Fan Yuan-lien (q.v.), then minister of education, gave Wu a grant for the compilation of a dictionary with phonetic aids. Wu completed the project in the summer of 1918. The publication of the dictionary in September 1919 spurred new interest in the phoneticization of the Chinese language.

From 1918 to 1920 Wu Chih-hui taught Chinese at the T'ang-shan School of Railways and Mining. In 1920 he helped Li Shih-tseng and Ts'ai Yuan-p'ei found Sino-French University near Peking and the Institut Franco- Chinois de Lyon in France. Wu obtained financial aid from the Canton government of Gh'en Chiung-ming (q.v.), and he accompanied a group of about 100 students from Kwangtung and Kwangsi to Lyon, where he assumed the presidency of the Institut Franco-Chinois. He remained at Lyon until 1923, when he returned to China to find intellectuals engaged in the spirited science-philosophy debates (for details, see Chang Chia-sen; Ting Wen-chiang). Wu joined the fray on the side of the supporters of science with a long article entitled "A New Cosomology and Philosophy of Life Based Upon a New Belief." At the First National Congress of the Kuomintang in 1924, Wu Chih-hui was elected to the party's Central Supervisory Committee. That spring, he made an unsuccessful attempt to reconcile the continuing differences between Sun Yat-sen and Ch'en Chiung-ming. He then went to Peking as a member of the commission, headed by Li Shih-tseng, taking inventory of the palace treasures. Wu thus was in Peking at the time of Sun Yat-sen's final illness and death in 1925, and he was one of the witnesses to the signing of Sun's political testament. WT u remained at Peking after Sun's death and operated a small private school at Nanhsiaochieh for the children of Kuomintang leaders. Among his students was Chiang Ching-kuo (q.v.), the elder son of Chiang Kai-shek. During this period, Wu became increasingly opposed to Communist participation in the Kuomintang. He participated in the so-called Western Hills conference in November 1925. In 1926 he moved to Shanghai after a brief sojourn in Canton to take part in the launching of the Northern Expedition. He reopened his school at Shanghai and worked with Niu Yung-chien as a special Kuomintang agent. While helping prepare for the Nationalist takeover of Kiangsu, he became even more opposed to the Chinese Communists than he had been previously. Wu, Ts'ai Yuan-p'ei, Chang Jen-chieh, and Li Shih-tseng (who became known collectively as the "four elder statesmen" of the Kuomintang) were among the members of the Central Supervisory Committee who met in Shanghai in April 1927 and demanded the expulsion of all Communists from the Kuomintang. Wu and his associates strongly supported Chiang Kai-shek's government at Nanking, established in opposition to the Wuhan regime of Wang Ching-wei (q.v.). After the reunification of the Kuomintang and the expulsion of Communists from that party, a new National Government was established at Nanking. Although Wu Chih-hui was offered high posts in the government, he declined them all, for he believed that he could work more effectively for Chiang Kai-shek as an adviser. After 1927 he devoted much of his time to the standardization of spoken Chinese as chairman of the preparatory commission for the unification of the national language. In 1930 he supported Chiang Kai-shek's plan to hold a national convention to adopt a provisional constitution, a plan strongly opposed by Hu Han-min. When Hu refused to accept Wu's arguments in favor of the constitution, he was placed illegally under house arrest on 28 February 1931. Wu presided over the constitutional convention in May 1931. About that time, he also became a member of the Central Political Council. At the end of May, supporters of Hu Han-min formed an opposition government at Canton, and civil war threatened until the Nanking and Canton leaders held peace talks after the Japanese attacked Mukden in September.

During the Sino-Japanese war, Wu Chih-hui lived in semi-retirement at Chungking. After his residence was destroyed by Japanese bombs in June 1940, he shared a house with his old friend Niu Yung-chien. He devoted much of his time to calligraphy and supported himself by selling examples of his calligraphic art. At war's end, he returned to Shanghai. In November 1946 he was elected to the presidium of the National Assembly, which drew up a constitution for the Chinese republic. On 20 May 1948, representing the National Assembly, he administered the presidential oath to Chiang Kai-shek. He left the mainland for Taiwan in April 1949 after destroying the papers, political documents, and other material he had collected assiduously for 60 years so that this valuable collection would not fall into the hands of the victorious Chinese Communists. He died in Taiwan on 30 October 1953, at the age of 89 sui. In accordance with his will, a box containing his cremated remains was lowered into the sea at Quemoy. In March 1964 a bronze statue of Wu was unveiled at Taipei on the occasion of the centenary of his birth.

Biography in Chinese

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