Chang Chi-luan 張季鸾 Orig. Chang Ch'ih-chang 張熾章
Chang Chi-luan (20 March 1888-6 September 1941), editor of the leading newspaper Ta Kung Pao, was a pioneer advocate of freedom in reporting and in expressing editorial opinion in the Chinese press.
Although Chang Chi-luan was born in Tsoup'ing hsien, Shantung province, his family's ancestral home was in Yulin, Shensi. Chang's father, Chang Ch'iao-hsuan, was serving as a government official in Shantung when the boy was born. In 1900 the father died at Tsinan. Chang's mother took her husband's remains to the ancestral home for burial, and the family then remained in Shensi.
As a boy Chang Chi-luan was physically weak and suffered from stammering. His promise as a scholar, however, attracted the attention of government officials in Shensi, who ensured that he had a good education. He studied the Chinese classics and history and, even as a youth, was noted for his concise and well-structured prose composition. In February 1904 he entered the Hung-tao Higher School at Sanyuan, Shensi. His mother died two months later. In 1905 he passed the Shensi provincial examinations and became eligible for a government scholarship to study in Japan. Since he knew no Japanese, he devoted time to learning it and did not go to Japan until 1909. There he entered the Tokyo First Higher School, where he studied political economy. He also became interested in practical political affairs, joined the T'ung-meng-hui, and helped to edit an anti-Manchu magazine run by Shensi men living in Japan. This minor post marked the beginning of Chang Chi-luan's lifelong dedication to journalism.
When the Wuchang revolt broke out in October 1911, Chang left his studies in Japan and returned to China, where he joined the staff of the Min-li pao [people's strength journal] at Shanghai. The office of that newspaper, which had been established by Yu Yu-jen (q.v.), was then an important meeting place for such men as Chang Shih-chao, Shao Li-tzu, Sung Chiao-jen, and Yeh Ch'u-ts'ang (qq.v.), all of whom supported the provisional government at Nanking. After Sun Yat-sen's resignation in April 1912, Chang Chi-luan left Nanking for north China, where he helped to establish a Peking edition of the Min-li pao. Because of the strong views expressed in that paper on the occasion of the assassination of Sung Chiao-jen in March 1913, Chang was arrested and imprisoned for three months.
After his release he fled to Shanghai. There, at the invitation of Hu Lin (q.v.), who had been his schoolmate in Japan, Chang joined the staff of the Ta-kung-ho jih-pao [great republican daily], becoming editor in charge of international affairs. The duties of this post included the translation of articles from the Japanese press. Concurrently, he taught Western history for a period at Chung-kuo kung-hsueh [China college] in Woosung, where Sheng Shih-ts'ai (q.v.) was one of his students. In 1915 he founded and became chief editor of the Min-hsin jih-pao [people's faith journal] in Shanghai, writing almost daily attacks against Yuan Shih-k'ai. After Yuan's death in June 1916, Chang returned to Peking to take over the Chung-hua hsin-pao [new China journal], at the same time serving as correspondent for the Shanghai Hsin-wen pao [the news]. During this period he also contributed many articles to magazines, using a pen name to protect himself. After publishing a report disclosing the secret agreements negotiated between the Anfu clique and Japan, the Chung-hua hsin-pao was closed, along with several other Peking newspapers, and Chang was imprisoned on the order of Hsu Shu-cheng (q.v.). The freedom of the press was hardly established in north Chang Chi-luan China at this time, and the lot of the Chinese newsmen was unenviable at best. After his release Chang returned to Shanghai.
After a decade as a leading editor of newspapers which were consistently dependent on political privilege or personal subsidies, Chang Chi-luan hoped to work for an enterprise which would be established on an independent and commercial basis. In the winter of 1924 he moved back to Peking, where he participated in plans to expand the faltering Kuo-wen News Service. Before decisions were made on that project, the Ta Kung Pao in Tientsin came on the market. With capital provided by Wu Ting-ch'ang (q.v.), a new company was formed, and it took over the Ta Kung Pao in September 1926. Chang Chi-luan became chief editor of the paper, and Hu Lin became general manager in charge of business operations. The three men determined to keep the paper free from political influence or control.
Chang devoted the years from 1926 until 1941 to establishing the Ta Kung Pao as a reliable organ of liberal opinion in China. His original editorial manifesto called for no partisanship, no dependence on outside commercial or political subsidies, no advancement of private interests through the paper, and no conformity at the expense of truth. Under Chang Chiluan's editorial guidance, the Ta Kung Pao faithfully held to its stated purpose of presenting facts and reflecting public opinion. Although the paper generally sympathized with the Nationalist cause and supported Chiang Kai-shek as the national leader, on many occasions it was critical of government policies and personalities. In October 1930, at Chang's instigation, the Ta Kung Pao sent reporters to investigate living conditions in the countryside of Hopei in north China. The paper's daily dispatches candidly exposed the maladministration there, marking a new era in Chinese journalism.
Moreover, as national attention focused increasingly on Sino-Japanese relations in the post- 1931 period, the Ta Kung Pao responded by sending correspondents to Japan and to the Soviet Union. Their reports were supplemented by Chang's editorials, which showed a farsighted appraisal of Japanese intentions in China and an awareness of the benefits which China might gain through increased attention to the Soviet pattern of industrial and technological development. The caliber of the paper's reporting was bettered by the fact that both Chang Chi-luan and Wang Yun-sheng, one of his proteges, were familiar with Japan and Japanese affairs. During the 1930's the Ta Rung Pao gained steadily in national reputation and popularity, as well as in financial success. On 1 September 1936 the paper celebrated the tenth anniversary of its resumption of publication, and Chang Chi-luan wrote a commemorative article to mark the occasion, reviewing achievements and renewing pledges.
Because of the growing crisis in north China, the Ta Kung Pao established a Shanghai edition on 1 April 1936. The Tientsin and Shanghai editions simultaneously published a statement by Chang explaining that the move was dictated by the desire to provide a truly national forum for independent opinion and did not mark an expansion in business or a retreat from north China. At that time, opinion was deeply divided as to the most appropriate course for national policy, and many patriotic groups were supporting the Communist call for military resistance against Japan. Chang Chi-luan steered the Ta Kung Pao on an independent course through this difficult period, insisting that he was prepared to have the paper close down rather than to pander to the emotionalism generated by sectional or political interests. On 1 June 1936 Chang published a strong editorial, "China's Youth and Japan," in which he warned the Japanese that the youth of China was greatly superior in fortitude to what it had been thirty years earlier, and that young women as well as young men were now prepared for dedicated sacrifice in the cause of national independence and social welfare. At the time of the Sian Incident in December 1936, Chang published an open letter to Chang Hsueh-liang (q.v.) and his associates, arguing that their action in detaining Chiang Kai-shek could only harm the unity that China had achieved with difficulty during the years since 1928. The phrasing and the sentiments expressed in his letter had considerable impact in China and reportedly contributed to settlement of the incident.
Motivated by his own experience as a working journalist, Chang took a consistently strong stand regarding censorship and freedom of speech. In February 1937 he argued that the government's right to ban news reports should be limited to material which definitely attempted to undermine the state system, disclose national defense plans, or sabotage public order.- The policy, he insisted, should be to release everything that could be released, not to withhold everything on principle.
As a result of the outbreak of war in mid1937, both the Tientsin and the Shanghai editions of the Ta Kung Pao were forced to suspend publication. While Hu Lin went to Hong Kong to launch a new edition there with the presses which had been evacuated from Tientsin, the Shanghai equipment was moved to Hankow. The paper resumed publication there on 18 September 1937, only to be forced to close on 17 October. On 1 December 1937 a new Chungking edition replaced the short-lived Hankow paper. During the early days of the war, Chang Chi-luan, who was chief editor in Chungking, traveled regularly between west China and Hong Kong to keep in touch with Hu Lin. Chang's editorials were published simultaneously in both editions. During a period of uncertainty in China, his articles did much to clarify issues and provide perspective. He called for long-term planning to prosecute the war against Japan and strongly opposed Wang Ching-wei (q.v.) and his group, whose policy he termed one of "national extinction."
Over the years the Ta Kung Pao had grown into a large enterprise with an extensive staff. In addition to his editorial duties, Chang Chiluan, as a veteran of the organization, also had heavy managerial responsibilities. His always precarious health worsened with the move to Chungking, though he continued to handle the many tasks connected with establishing the new edition in the wartime capital. After the spring of 1939, Chang Chi-luan delegated more and more of his editorial duties to his assistant, Wang Yun-sheng. Eventually Chang's tuberculosis forced him to retire, and Wang succeeded him. On 15 May 1941 the University of Missouri School of Journalism bestowed an award on the Ta Kung Pao, in recognition of the principles to which Chang had dedicated himself over the years. A few months after the Missouri award, on 6 September, he died in Chungking. His passing was mourned by his associates in Chungking, and his fellow newsmen voted to give him a public burial. In addition, a Chang Chi-luan scholarship fund was raised to commemorate his notable contributions to modern Chinese journalism. A collection of his writings, Chi-luan wen-ts'un [preserved writings of Chiluan], was published at Chungking in 1944, and a new edition was issued at Tientsin in 1946.
Chang led a simple life unlike the undisciplined existence conventionally associated with the press. In his later years Chang was a tall and slightly stooped figure with a balding head and a prominent nose. Throughout the year he wore the traditional Chinese long gown. He was a frugal man, and his gowns were made of coarse native material.
As a responsible native of Shensi, Chang was naturally concerned with the relatively backward state of education in that province. On a visit after his return from Japan at the beginning of the republican period, he suggested that the Shensi authorities set aside government funds to assist students. His efforts and encouragement greatly increased the number of Shensi students who later studied in universities elsewhere in China and abroad.
In a period when the Chinese press was subject to many pressures, both private and political, Chang Chi-luan helped to create a sound policy of unbiased reporting and free expression of editorial opinion. This was his greatest achievement.