Biography in English

Chang Jen-chieh 張人傑 T. Ching-chiang Chang Jen-chieh (19 September 1877-3 September 1950), businessman and goverment official, was an early supporter of Sun Yat-sen and a patron of Chiang Kai-shek. He was one of the "four elder statesmen of the Kuomintang" and served as governor of Chekiang province and as director of the National Reconstruction Commission at Nanking. Wuhsing hsien, Chekiang, was the birthplace of Chang Jen-chieh. He was born into a family which had come from Huichou, in Anhwei. His native town, Nan-hsun-chen, was famed as a center of silk culture, and both of his grandfathers were wealthy silk merchants noted for their generosity and for their adventurous spirit. The second of seven sons in the family, Chang was a precocious child and reportedly mastered several of the Chinese classics by the age of eight. He also showed a flair for calligraphy at a very early age. He was, however, a spoiled lad as well and loved to ride horseback through the crowded streets of the town.

Because of the financial security which his family provided, Chang Jen-chieh did not have to prepare for an official career through the traditional method of sitting for the imperial examinations. While he was still in his teens, the family purchased for him the official qualification of expectant tao-t'ai. In 1901 Chang visited Peking, ostensibly to seek an official post for which that qualification might be suited. There he met Li Shih-tseng (q.v.). Their lifelong friendship was to leave a considerable imprint on the subsequent history of the Chinese revolution. The two youths found that they shared many interests, the most compelling of which was the desire to go abroad to widen their horizons. Their desire was soon fulfilled. In 1902, Sun Pao-ch'i was appointed Chinese minister to France. Both Chang Jen-chieh and Li Shih-tseng joined his staff as attaches.

On arrival in Paris, Chang Jen-chieh surveyed the market for Chinese products in Europe. As a result of the survey he decided to establish a private trading company for the sale of curios, tea, and silk. He took a trip back to China to raise capital for the projected enterprise. While the proposition seemed attractive, few Chinese would venture to invest in it, and in the end it was his father, Chang Ting-fu, who provided him with China $300 thousand to launch the Ton Ying (T'ung-yun) Company. That company long remained a family enterprise in Paris, later branching out to New York.

Chang's activities as a curio merchant brought him into contact with many intellectuals, among whom were some anarchists. He read some anarchist literature and agreed with the tenets which he discovered there. However, since he was on the staff of the imperial Chinese legation, the more radically inclined Chinese students in Europe were suspicious of his motives, and few dared to have open relations with him.

In 1905, on a visit to London, he met Wu Chih-hui (q.v.), who had met Chang's friend Li Shih-tseng earlier in Shanghai. Chang Jenchieh and Wu Chih-hui took to each other at once. Shortly after this meeting, and possibly because of it, Chang Jen-chieh, Li Shih-tseng, and Wu Chih-hui formed the Shih-chieh-she, a cultural and revolutionary publishing house, with a printing establishment as its affiliate.

It was about this time that Chang Jen-chieh met Sun Yat-sen. According to Sun, the two met on board a French steamship in 1906. Chang offered Sun financial aid for his revolutionary movement. Then, early in 1907 when Sun Yat-sen was in Saigon plotting an uprising in southwestern Kwangtung, he sent two messages to Chang Jen-chieh asking for funds, and Chang responded to both, giving a total of China $60 thousand. Sun's close adherents, including Hu Han-min, had not known of Chang, and they were surprised by his support.

Meanwhile, chiefly through Chang's financial support, the Hsin shih-chi [new century] began publication in Paris in June 1907, with Wu Chih-hui and Li Shih-tseng doing the bulk of the writing. The magazine issued a total of 121 numbers, but had to be suspended on 21 May 1910 after suffering heavy financial losses.

In 1907, chiefly for health reasons, Chang Jen-chieh took another trip, traveling by way of Hong Kong. At this time, he was officially admitted to the T'ung-meng-hui. Records preserved by the Kuomintang state that Chang had joined the T'ung-meng-hui in Singapore in 1906, but Feng Tzu-yu (q.v.) reported that Chang was admitted officially in Hong Kong in June 1907, when he was on his way back to Shanghai. Feng Tzu-yu, who was then head of the Hong Kong branch of the T'ung-menghui, and Hu Han-min administered the oath of admission at a ceremony which was exceptional in that they, respecting Chang's beliefs, waived the use of the words "by heaven" in the phrase "I swear by heaven." The two dates are not necessarily incompatible; Chang could have joined the league when its Singapore branch was established, yet delayed taking the oath of admission until 1907.

His generous contributions to both the anti- Manchu cause and the operational costs of the Hsin shih-chi had drawn heavily on the resources of Chang's curio business in Paris. In 1908, therefore, he made plans to establish a bank at Shanghai to finance realty purchases, raising funds through the issuance of debentures by the bank. He sought the cooperation of French banks, for only a foreign organization could command the confidence necessary for such schemes. The plan failed to materialize, but the French took up the idea and later established their own financing house in Shanghai.

Chang Jen-chieh returned to Paris in the summer of 1 9 1 0. The outbreak of the Wuchang revolt in the autumn of 191 1 brought him back to China; it also prompted Wu Chih-hui and Li Shih-tseng to return. When Sun Yat-sen became provisional president in January 1912, he wished to make Chang Jen-chieh finance minister, but Chang stoutly declined. When the so-called second revolution of 1913 failed, and Sun Yat-sen reorganized the revolutionary party as the Chung-hua ko-ming-tang, Chang was among its most enthusiastic supporters. Sun made him director of the finance department, and, though illness prevented him from taking up the post actively, Chang permitted his name to be used by the deputy director, Liao Chungk'ai (q.v.). Sun had also appointed Teng Tse-ju director of the finance department in charge of the Southeast Asia branches of the party. When Chiang Kai-shek joined the Chung-hua kuoming-tang in 1914, his oath of allegiance was taken before Chang Jen-chieh.

After the death of Yuan Shih-k'ai in 1916, Chang remained at Shanghai and, although he was not active in politics during the next few years, he remained a staunch partisan. His home in the French concession at Shanghai became a meeting place for hard-pressed comrades. Chang was a shrewd businessman and reportedly had extensive dealings in the stock exchange in Shanghai. During this period he came to know Chiang Kai-shek more intimately. After the assassination of Ch'en Ch'i-mei (q.v.) in 1916, Chang Jen-chieh in a sense replaced Ch'en as Chiang's patron, and he exerted great influence on his younger protege. Chiang Kai-shek treated Chang Jen-chieh with every respect, and in one of his letters he stated: "Tai Chi-t'ao is my beneficial friend, you, sir, are my good teacher." Chang Jen-chieh, in turn, gave Chiang moral support and encouragement on several occasions.

When Sun Yat-sen, late in 1921, decided on what proved to be the final reorganization of the Kuomintang, Chang Jen-chieh was included in the group of some 60 representative comrades of the party, selected regionally, to attend three preliminary meetings in December 1922 and discuss the plans. When the reorganization was effected at the First National Congress of the Kuomintang in January 1924, Chang was elected to the Central Executive Committee, although he did not attend the meeting. The Central Executive Committee had a system of maintaining executive headquarters at selected regional centers, and Chang was assigned to the Shanghai executive quarters, together with Wang Ching-wei, Yeh Ch'u-ts'ang, and Yü Yujen. The Shanghai headquarters had jurisdiction over Kiangsu, Chekiang, Anhwei, and Kiangsi.

Later that year, Chang Jen-chieh suffered a serious attack of a foot disease, and Sun Yat-sen was so concerned about his health that he wrote Chang a special letter in June 1924 recommending the service of a doctor who had recently returned from Germany. Later, in February 1925, when Sun lay ill of cancer in the hospital in Peking and radium treatment had proved of no avail, Chang Jen-chieh suggested the consultation of practioners of traditional Chinese medicine. Sun, however, vetoed the suggestion. Chang was present in Peking at Sun's deathbed and was one of the witnesses to his political will.

After Sun's death in March 1925, the National Government was organized by the Kuomintang at Canton on 1 July 1925, and Chang Jen-chieh was elected to its 16-member State Council. At the Second National Congress of the Kuomintang, Chang was elected to the Central Supervisory Committee, together with Li Shih-tseng, Ts'ai Yuan-p'ei, and Wu Chih-hui. The four friends, of whom Chang was the youngest, were collectively referred to as the "four elder statesmen of the Kuomintang." Chiang Kai-shek was then rising rapidly to power, and Chang Jenchieh, despite his poor health, felt moved to give his young friend effective support by taking' a more active part in the political field. While in France, Chang Jen-chieh had become friendly with Wang Ching-wei (q.v.), and in the growing conflict of interests between Chiang Kai-shek and Wang, he attempted to play a mediating role. In January 1926 Chang made a brief visit to Canton, where, in an attempt to promote friendship, he accompanied Chiang Kai-shek, Wang Ching-wei, and the latter's wife, Ch'en Pi-chun, on a tour ofscenic areas near Whampoa. Chang then returned to Shanghai. When the political situation at Canton became more complex, he was again summoned there. He arrived there on 2 March 1926, two days after the mysterious Chung-shan gunboat incident, which led to Wang Ching-wei's departure from China. Since both Wang and Hu Han-min were then absent from Canton and since T'an Yen-k'ai, who had become acting chairman of the government, was still a comparatively new member of the Kuomintang, Chang Jen-chieh felt obliged to remain at Canton to give moral support to Chiang Kai-shek.

On 19 May 1926, the election of Chang Jenchieh as chairman of the standing committee of the party's Central Executive Committee made him virtually the party chief. On 7 July, however, his resignation from that position was accepted, and Chiang Kai-shek was elected his successor. During the period of the Northern Expedition, when Chiang was in the field conducting military operations, Chang Jen-chieh was made acting chairman of the standing committee. Thus, Chang Jen-chieh held office as acting chairman from July through December 1926, one of the most critical periods in the recent political history of China.

In November of that year, the Kuomintang headquarters and the National Government started to move northward from Canton as the Northern Expedition rapidly won victories. Chang's father died at this time. At the request of Chiang Kai-shek, he postponed a trip to his home district and in mid-December 1926 arrived at Nanchang, where Chiang had his temporary headquarters. When the Northern Expedition forces occupied Chekiang province, Chang Jen-chieh moved to Hangchow to head the provisional provincial government established there. The Kuomintang and National Government leaders then at Wuhan made strong propaganda attacks on Chang, calling him "foolhardy, senile, and corrupt." After reviewing the situation with Chiang Kai-shek, Chang Jen-chieh asked Ch'u Min-i to deliver a message to Wang Ching-wei urging Wang to return to China from Europe.

When Wang Ching-wei arrived at Shanghai on 1 April 1927, a number of members of the Central Supervisory Committee of the Kuomintang met there to discuss measures for dealing with the Communists. Chang Jen-chieh made the trip from Hangchow to attend. The meeting adopted a resolution calling for the ousting of Communists from the Kuomintang. That action precipitated the party purge which began at Shanghai on 12 April and spread to other parts of the country. On 18 April 1927 the Nanking leaders announced the organization of the National Government at Nanking. Previously, the Wuhan leaders had already announced the establishment of the government at Wuhan. Thus, Nanking and Wuhan split. In September, when the Kuomintang leaders at Wuhan also broke with the Communists, a special committee of the Kuomintang was organized to effect the reunification of the various sections of the party—those of Nanking and Wuhan, and also that of Shanghai, which consisted of members of the Western Hills conference group. Chang Jenchieh was a member of this special committee.

Chiang Kai-shek resumed his offices in Nanking in January 1928. In February of that year, the National Government established the National Reconstruction Commission, with Chang Jen-chieh as its chairman. Although the work of that commission did not match the grandiose plans of its originators, nevertheless, under Chang's direction, it had several significant achievements to its credit. The commission's first task was to convert the Nanking power station into a modern plant, a job which was completed in less than a year. The next project completed was the Chihsuyeh power plant on the Nanking-Shanghai railway, which served to promote industrial development and farm irrigation in the area. In November 1928, Chang entered into an agreement with the Radio Corporation of America for an international radio station to be built at Chenju, a suburb of Shanghai. Later, an agreement was reached with the German Siemens Company for the development of a number of domestic radio stations. The commission was responsible for the completion of the Kiangnan railway and the Huai-nan railway, and, in coordination with these lines, the development of coal deposits at Ch'ang-hsing, Huai-nan, Man-t'ou-shan, and I-lo. The commission also operated a bus service between Nanking and Wuhu.

However, with the establishment in October 1931 of the National Economic Council, the responsibilities of the National Reconstruction Commission were limited to the design and guidance of construction projects. The National Economic Council, headed by T. V. Soong, took charge of general development plans. In 1938 the commission was abolished altogether and its remaining functions were delegated to the ministry of economic affairs and the National Resources Commission.

In November 1928 Chang Jen-chieh was appointed governor of his native Chekiang province, and he held that post until January 1930. During that period he devoted particular attention to the expansion of communications facilities in the province. In 1930 he held the West Lake exposition at Hangchow, which was criticized as being extravagant and wasteful. Gradually Chang began to withdraw from active participation in politics. His health was poor; and he had contracted paralysis of the limbs. In January 1932 he heard the news of the Japanese attack on Shanghai while he was having a meal. Suddenly recognizing the true significance of the phrase, "the strong making meat out of the weak," he became a vegetarian and remained one for the rest of his life.

After the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war in July 1937, Chang went to Hankow. In the autumn of 1938 he left China by way of Hong Kong for Europe. There he visited Switzerland and France, reviving memories of the pleasant life which he had led as a young man in Paris after the turn of the century. When the Second World War broke out, Chang left Europe for the United States and took up residence in New York. In December 1942 he was host to a group of pacifists, who met at his home and advocated peace through world government. All the while his paralysis grew steadily worse, and in 1945 he lost his sight. He died in New York on 3 September 1950. On 16 September, Chiang Kai-shek presided over a memorial service held in Chang's honor at Taipei.

Chang Jen-chieh married twice. He had five daughters by his first wife, Yao Hui. The fourth, Li-ying (Georgette), caused her father much disappointment by marrying Eugene Ch'en (q.v.) in Paris in 1930. After Eugene Ch'en's death, she married Ho Yung-chi, author of The Big Circle, but they were divorced later. His fifth daughter, Ch'ien-ying (Helen), married Dr. Robert K. S. Lim (Lin K'o-sheng, q.v.) in Shanghai in 1946. After Yao Hui died, Chang married Chu I-min. They had five daughters and two sons. After Chang's death, Chu went to live in the United States.

Biography in Chinese


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