This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925.
Admiral Y.L. Woo, (Wu Yu-lin) was born at Tientsin in 1869. In 1885, he entered the Tientsin Naval College: from which he was graduated in 1892. Upon the completion of his studies in China, he was sent abroad, by the government, for higher education. He was away from China for one year: and upon his return was appointed an instructor in the Navy Training Service. Later he became a teacher in the Naval College from which he had been graduated. In 1894, he was transferred to the Board of Navy, for service, and given the position of Attaché. In 1895, he was awarded, by the Imperial Government, the rank of Prefect. This award marked the beginning of his official civil career. From that time on, he held many positions of importance. He was Director of Railway and Mining Affairs in Chihli Province, and Co-Director of the Board of Communications. In 1907, Admiral Woo returned to the Navy and was appointed Naval Inspector.
At the conclusion of the First Revolution, in 1911, (which resulted in the establishment of the Republic), Admiral Woo became an advisor to the Northern Delegation to the Internal Peace Conference at Shanghai. In 1913, he was appointed Managing Director of the Taku Naval Dockyard. In the same year, he was elevated to the rank of Rear-Admiral, and succeeded in organizing the Chihli Inland Steam-launch Company. In 1914, he was appointed to serve, concurrent with his other positions, as Chief Officer in command of the Sea Patrolling Force for the Province of Chihli, and also given charge of the sea-coast, land, and river police.
In 1915, Admiral Woo was appointed Chinese Director of the Hai Ho Conservancy Board and Chief of the Preparation Bureau of the River Improvement Works of Chihli. Two years later, in addition to the other posts he was holding, he was made Director of the Peiyang Iron Works in Tientsin. In the spring of 1918, he was appointed a Councillor to the High Inspecting Commissioner of Chihli, Shantung, and Honan Provinces. While residing at Tientsin, he took an interest in social work and was one of the promoters of the American-British-Chinese Commercial Club, of that city, which was inaugurated in November 1919.
In October 1919, Admiral Woo was awarded the Second Class Tashou Chiaho: in January 1920, he received the Second Class Paokuang Chiaho: and in October 1920, he was given the Second Class Wenhu decoration. In July 1921, he was appointed Director-General of the Eastern Metropolitan Conservancy Works. In November 1921, he was made a Vice-Admiral.
In June 1922, Admiral Woo was appointed Managing Director of the Tientsin-Pukow Railway and the Pu-hsing Railway. In July, of the same year, he was awarded the Firth Order of Merit. In September 1922, he was made a member of a commission to handle the railway interests of the Government in connection with the rehabilitation of Shantung. In October 1922, he received the First Class Tashou Chiaho: and in March 1923, he was given the First Class Tashou Paokuang Chiaho.
In January 1923, Admiral Woo was appointed Minister of Communications: which post he held until the latter part of 1924, when the Chihli Party was forced out of power by the coup d’état of General Feng Yu-hsiang.
A.R. Burt, J.B. Powell and Carl Crow, editors, Biographies of Prominent Chinese (Shanghai: Biographical Publishing Company Inc., c.1925). 44.