Hsu Un-yeun (Xu Enyuan) 徐恩元

This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925.

Hsu Un-yuen

Mr. Hsu Un-yuen, one of the leading financial authorities in China, is a native of Chekiang Province: where he was born in 1884. He was first educated in the old school, and won his first degree in Chinese Classics when he was quite young. He joined the Nanyang College, Shanghai, in 1897; from which he was graduated with high honors. He went to England in 1905; and, in the following year, he entered the University of London. After completing a course in political economy, in the School of Economics and Political Science of that University, he did some research work on the subject of currency and banking.

While in England, he made contributions to the “Economic Journal” and to other papers. He won the Jevons Memorial Research Scholarship: which is indeed a rare distinction. He was a Fellow of the University College, London, and a Fellow of several royal societies in England. After leaving the University, he worked in the Union of London and Smith’s Bank for nearly two years; working from the head office down to the country branches.

For a time he served under His Excellency Wang Ta-hsieh, Chinese Constitutional Commissioner to London; and he studied then the methods of English local government in matters pertaining to finance, education, police-protections, sanitation, prisons, poor laws, etc. He was a government delegate to the Currency Conference that met in London in 1911.

Mr. Hsu has held many responsible positions in Peking, such as: Chief of the Bureau of Audit, Special Commissioner of Currency Reform, Director of the Bureau of Public Credit, which is comprised of the department of Currency and Banking and Public Loans and the Treasury of the Ministry of Finance; Member of the Financial Commission appointed by the President; Deputy Director-General of the Bureau of Currency, of which His Excellency Liang Chi-chao was Director-General. He was appointed Deputy Auditor-General of the Board of Audit, in May 1914: which post he held until 1917. During that time he was, on several occasions, appointed to act for the Director-General of Audit.

In June 1916, Mr. Hsu was appointed, concurrently, as Governor of the Bank of China in which, at that time, a moratorium had been declared. While he was with this bank he brought about the resumption of specie payment for the branches in Shantung, Shensi, Kwangtung, Tientsin and Kalgan. At the Peking branch, he adopted a system known as the “Silver Exchange Standard”, by means of which he was able to maintain the price of notes at approximately 98 per cent of their face value until he the institutions, in May 1917.

In the summer of 1919, Mr. Hsu took a brief trip to America to study after-war financial conditions. In January 1920, he founded the Chinese American Bank of Commerce, capitalized at $10,000,000., with a paid up capital of $7,500,000. Of this bank he is now President. The bank has its Executive Office in Shanghai: and maintains branches in Tientsin, Peking, Tsinan, Shanghai, Harbin, and Shihkiachwang.

Mr. Hsu has travelled a good deal in Europe, in America, and in Japan as well as in the interior of China. Among the many decorations which he has been awarded are: the First Class Tashou Paokuang Chiaho, the First Class Wenhu, the First Class Tashou Chiaho, and the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur. He was a Shao-Ching during President Yuan Shih-kai’s régime.

Mr. Hsu is fond of nature, and spends his time of recreation principally in reading, walking and hill-climbing. With his excellent past record and his strong character, Mr. Hsu will no doubt do some great good for the benefit of his country in the near future. This biography was furnished through the courtesy of the China “Weekly Review”, formerly known as “Millard’s Weekly Review”.

Hsu Un-yuen text


A.R. Burt, J.B. Powell and Carl Crow, editors, Biographies of Prominent Chinese (Shanghai: Biographical Publishing Company Inc., c.1925), 71.