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 Pien Hsin, or Hanlin complier of the College of Hanlin scholars.
The first position which General Chao held was that of Assistant Examiner for the Provincial Examinations of Hupeh. Subsequently, he was appointed a Supervising Censor of the Board of Public Works. In 1893, he became a Prefect in the Province of Kweichow: and soon afterward he was promoted to the rank of Taotai, having then power over military forces, and transferred to Kwangtung Province.
In April 1895, General Chao was appointed Judicial Commissioner of Anhwei Province: but after some time he was transferred to Shensi Province. In November 1898, he was appointed Financial Commissioner of Kansu Province and of Sinkiang. In 1902, he was transferred to serve in the capacity for Shansi Province.
In 1903, General Chao was appointed Viceroy of Hunan Province. In August 1904, he was called to Peking and given the post of Acting President of the Board of Revenue. In May 1905, he was appointed Tartar General of Mukden and was given the concurrent post, at Peking, of Vice-President of the Board of War. Later he was appointed Governor of the Metropolitan District and, concurrently, Director of the Imperial Household Affairs.
In May 1907, General Chao was appointed Viceroy of Szechuan Province. He did not assume this office however; and in September of the same year he was appointed Viceroy of the Hu-Kwang Provinces and given the brevet titles of President of the Board of War and President of the Censorate. In March 1908, General Chao was transferred to serve as Viceroy of Szechuan: and he held the concurrent posts of Tartar General of Chengtu and Assistant Director-General of the Salt Administration. These posts he held until April 1911, at which time he was appointed Viceroy of Manchuria and given control of all of the Tartar Generals of the Three Eastern Provinces.
In March 1912, the first year of the Republic, a bill was passed in the provisional assembly appointing General Chao Tutuh of Fengtien. He was subsequently made a full General and awarded the Second Order of Merit and First Class Chiaho decorations. As Tutuh of Fengtien, General Chao was given supreme control of all military and diplomatic affairs of the Three Eastern Provinces. He resigned from this post on November 3rd, 1912, and returned to Peking: where he was subsequently appointed Director-General of the Ching Dynasty History Compilation Bureau: which position he has retained.
General Chao was one of the “Four Friends of Sungshan” of Ex-President Yuan Shih-kai: the other three being Ex-President Hsu Shih-chang, His Excellency Li Ching-hsi, and His Excellency Chang Chien. He has served as President of the Hsiangshan Childrens’ Home situtated in the Western Hills near Peking, which was founded by Ex-Premier Hsiung Hsi-ling after the fall floods in Chihli Province in 1917. He has since been awarded the First Order of Merit.
A.R. Burt, J.B. Powell and Carl Crow, editors, Biographies of Prominent Chinese (Shanghai: Biographical Publishing Company Inc., c.1925). 9.