This article is excerpted fromBiographies of Prominent Chinesepublished in Shanghai in c.1925.
His Excellency Liang Chi-chao, a native of Kwangtung Province, was born in 1873. He is considered a brilliant scholar, and is known as the most prominent follower of Kang Yu-wei, the famous scholar and reformer. He started the first Chinese daily newspaper in Peking before 1900. It was merely a leaflet containing only an editorial, and was distributed gratis. Mr. Liang was procscribed and obliged to flee for his life, after the coup d’etat of 1898,–which was a counter movement against Kang Yu-wei’s reform measures. He went to Japan, and resided there for a number of years. While in Japan, he conducted a Chinese paper which was devoted to the cause of reform.
During his exile, Mr. Liang visited America, England and Europe, and learned much of social and political conditions abroad,–which he communicated to his fellow-countrymen through his writings. Like Kang Yu-wei, he advocated a limited monarchy, in preference to a republic. Mr. Liang returned to China after the revolution, of 1911, which resulted in the establishment of the present republic. Soon after his return, he organized a daily paper in Tientsin, which advocated the spread of political education, and the diffusion of general knowledge among the Chinese.
Mr. Liang was appointed Vice-Minister of Justice in His Excellency Yuan Shih-kai’s First Cabinet, but refused to accept this office, preferring instead to edit the Young Yen Pao (“Justice”), a bi-monthly periodical. In September of 1913, he accepted the appointment as Minister of Justice in the cabinet organized by His Excellency Hsiung Hsi-ling. He resigned in 1914, and was appointed Head of the Currency Bureau,–which was later incorporated into the Ministry of Finance.
Mr. Liang rendered signal services to the country, between 1914 and 1915, through his powerful writings, denouncing Japan’s ambitions, as presented in the Twenty-one Demands. Towards the end of 1915, he strongly opposed the monarchical movement instigated by His Excellency Yuan Shih-kai, and went to Yunnan, where he enlisted the support of his former schoolmate, General Tsao Ao. They threw in their support to the Third Revolution, which resulted in the collapse of the monarchical movement, and the restoration of the Republic.
In the spring of 1917, the question arose as to whether China should join the European War on the side of Allies. Mr. Liang was called to Peking by Marshal Tuan Chih-jui, who was then Premier, for consultation. Largely upon the advice of Mr. Liang, the Tuan Chi-jui Cabinet decided in favor of joining the war.
In July of the same year, General Chang Hsun launched forth his monarchical movement to restore the Manchu Emperor to the throne. Mr. Liang played an important part as an adviser to Marshal Tuan Chi-jui, during the overthrow of this movement. Upon the second restoration of the Republic, he was appointed Minister of Finance, and Director-General of the Salt Administration. In December, the Cabinet, under Marshal Tuan Chi-jui, was overthrown; whereupon Mr. Liang retired.
In 1919, Mr. Liang went to London; returning to China early in 1920. As Chief of the Chinese Delegation, he attended the European Peace Conference regarding Far Eastern Questions, and visited Paris. He is a leader of the Chimputang, or Progressive Party; and has considerable influence over the literary people in China, through his forceful writings. He resides in Tientsin, and is a teacher of history in various colleges in North China.