Reading into the Past

Reading into the Past is a selection of English-language materials relevant to the China Story originally published in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In reprinting these essays we intend to not only preserve them and make them more easily accessible, but also to augment the modern day China Story by providing perspectives from the past on critical issues that continue to be debated. More than mere curios, Reading into the Past illuminates and contextualises the present.

Chang Hsun (Zhang Xun) 張勳

This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925. General Chang Hsun (deceased 1924) was born at Fengsin Hsien, Kiangsi Province, in 1857. He started his military career as an ordinary soldier, but showed unusual bravery in encounters with bandits. He was gradually promoted to be first the Commander of a Regiment, … more

Chao Erh-sun (Zhao Erxun) 趙爾巽

This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925. General Chao Erh-sun was born in 1846. He is a descendant of a Chinese Banner family. He became a Provincial Graduate in 1867 and a Metropolitan Graduate in 1874. In the latter year, he was made a Hanlin and given the degree of … more

Tong Shao-yi (Tang Shaoyi) 唐紹儀

This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925. His Excellency Tong Shao-yi, former Premier, was born in Kwangtung Province, in 1861. He was one of the first group of Chinese students sent to the United States by the Chinese Government to be educated there. However, he returned to China before his … more

Sheng Kung-pao (aka Sheng Hsuan-huai/Sheng Xuanhuai) 盛宣懷

This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925. His Excellency Sheng Hsuan-huai, more commonly known as Sheng Kung-pao (now deceased) was a native of Changchow in the Province of Kiangsu. He was born on October 5th, 1845. His family had been prominent in the political, social, and financial affairs of the … more

Wu Ting-fang 伍廷芳

This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925. Dr. Wu Ting-fang was born at Singapore, July 9th, 1842. At the age of four, his parents sent him to China for an education: and, when he was fourteen, he entered St. Paul’s College, Hongkong, for his modern education,–completing the course in 1861. … more

Tuan Chi-jui (Duan Qirui) 段祺瑞

This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925. Marshal Tuan Chi-jui was born in 1863, in Hofei Hsien, Anhwei, a province famous as the birthplace of many military leaders. He attended the Peiyang School, during his youth, beginning his military career as a cadet in a Tientsin military school, in 1895. … more

Hsu Shih-chang (Xu Shichang) 徐世昌

This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925. His Excellency Hsu Shih-chang, Ex-President of the Republic, was born at Tientsin, in 1858. He became an orphan when a youth, and was raised by the late Yuan Chia-san, father of the late President Yuan Shih-kai. Mr. Hsu was born of a literary … more

Feng Kuo-chang (Feng Guozhang) 馮國璋

This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925. His excellency Feng Kuo-chang, third President of the Republic of China, who left office in October 1918, was born in the province of Chihli, in 1866. He died in the winter of 1919. In his youth, he studied in a military college in … more

Li Yuan-hung (Li Yuanhong) 黎元洪

黎元洪

This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925.   His Excellency Li Yuan-hung, Ex President of China, was born in 1864, at Huang-pi Hsien, Hupeh. He graduated from the Peiyang Naval College in 1888, and then entered the Navy. His naval career covered seven years, and included active service in the … more

Yuan Shih-kai (Yuan Shikai) 袁世凱

This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925. His Excellency Yuan Shih-kai (deceased in 1916), Ex-President of the Chinese Republic, was born at Hangchun, Honan Province, in 1859. When quite young he was adopted by his uncle, Yuan Pao-chin, a government official, and accompanied him to his various posts. He showed … more