This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925.
Mr. Li Po-kwai is a native of Sun-Wui, Kwangtung. He received a good education, in Chinese. He served at one time, as Chairman of the Sun-Wui Chamber of Commerce. He later became a dealer in rice; and then he engaged in the insurance, shipping and banking business at Hongkong. In 1905, he was appointed to serve on the committee of the Emigration Bureau. He also served as a member of the committee of the Tung Wah Hospital. In 1908, during the disastrous floods in Hongkong, Mr. Li organized a flood relief society. He then advocated the need of conservancy work along the North, East, and West Rivers; and, eventually, a board of conservancy was created. In 1914, he was appointed, by the Hongkong Government, Vice-Chairman of the Chinese Public Dispensaries Committee.
Kwangtung was again visited by a flood, and Mr. Li organized a flood relief bazaar,—of which he was elected honorary treasurer. To suppress kidnapping, which was prevalent, the Po Leung Kuk, an anti-kidnapping society, was organized,—of which Mr. Li was elected President.
In 1916, Mr. Li was appointed a Justice of the Peace, and was elected a member of the War Charity Fund Committee. In 1918, he was presented with a commemoration tablet, by the President of China, in recognition of his services in the collection of subscriptions for an enormous fund to aid the sufferers in the flooded districts of Peking and Tientsin. In the same year, he was appointed advisor to the Tung Wah Hospital.
In 1919, when Hongkong was faced with a serious rice famine, Mr. Li was given charge of the Rice Control Committee. The shortage of rice caused a panic, among the people, which resulted in riots. This disturbance, was, however, suppressed when Mr. Li devised means for immediate importation of additional supplies, and proposed strict measures prohibiting profiteering and the exportation of the product. He also urged that immediate steps be taken to purchase and distribute large quantities of rice at low prices. This action resulted in quieting the populace.
In 1920, during the floods of North China, Mr. Li again contributed liberally to the relief fund. In 1921, he was elected president of a society formed to raise funds for the relief of the famine sufferers in the Northern Provinces, and to aid the war sufferers throughout Kwangtung.
During the typhoon disaster at Swatow, in 1922, Mr. Li played an important part in enlisting the co-operation of local charitable instituions in relief work. During the seamens strike at Hongkong, when transportation facilities were at a stand-still, he gave valuable assistance toward bringing about a peaceful settlement.
For several years, Mr. Li served as Honorary Treasurer of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce at Hongkong; and, in 1923, he was elected Chairman. In the following year, he was elected vice-chairman of a committee to prepare for the pariticpation, by Hongkong Chinese merchants, in the British Empire Exhibition, at London. He was also elected a member of the District Watchmen’s Committee.
In 1923, after the disastrous earthquake in Japan, Mr. Li spared no effort in co-operating with Chinese and foreigners to raise funds and provisions for the relief of the sufferers. His efforts enabled several hundred Chinese refugees to return to China. He was equally active in soliciting aid for the sufferers, during the serious floods in 1924, in North China.
Mr. Li is President of the Confucian Society of Hongkong. Through his leadership, thirty Confucian schools have been established, which provide special departments that propagate the doctrines of the great Sage. Mr. Li is also a leading advocate for Confucianism as the national religion.
Mr. Li is advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce, and he is the recipient of the Second Class Tashou Chiaho. He has rendered loyal service to the Hongkong Government, and has taken part in all charitable and philanthropic affairs.
A.R. Burt, J.B. Powell and Carl Crow, editors, Biographies of Prominent Chinese (Shanghai: Biographical Publishing Company Inc., c.1925). 76.