This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925.
His Excellency Ling Chang-ming was born in Fukien Province, in 1876. As a boy, he studied literature in Confucian schools; and, at twenty-five, he took up the study of English. Foreign politics and law interested him very much; and he was favorably impressed with the English system of political parties. In 1902, he entered Waseda University, Japan, where he specialized in political science and in economics, for seven years.
Upon his return to China, in 1909, he was made Chief Secretary of the Fukien Provincial Assembly; and shortly afterward, he became a controlling factor in the Assembly, having organized a political party.
At the outbreak of the revolution, in 1911, he travelled from Shanghai to neighboring cities, endeavoring to induce leaders to combine their strengths to set up a provisional government independent of the Manchu rule. He was requested to represent Fukien Province at the Nanking Conference. An unsuccessful attempt was made to take his life, at Shanghai, by official instructions, it being alleged that he was a traitor.
After the reunion of the North and South, Mr. Ling was appointed Chief Secretary to the Provisional Parliament, and took the lead in forming a Republican Constructive Party. In 1913, he was elected a member of the Lower House of Representatives, and made its Chief Secretary. Later, he was elected head of the Progressive Party, which was opposed to the Kuomingtang, or Nationalist Party.
In 1914, Mr. Ling was appointed Councillor to the State Department. In 1916, he declined to accept the position as Chief of the Law Bureau. As Chief Secretary to Vice-President Feng Kuo-chang, he proposed breaking diplomatic relations with Germany. An effort was made by General Chang Hsun to restore the Monarchy; and when this effort was suppressed, Mr. Ling was appointed Minister of Justice in the cabinet formed by Marshal Tuan Chi-jui. In 1918, he retired for a time and resided in Japan.
Mr. Ling later became a member of the Diplomatic Commission. After the Paris Peace Conference during which decisions had been made favoring Japanese rights in China, Mr. Ling wrote several articles and delivered a number of addresses condemning the Japanese policy. He lost favor with the government, and was suspected of leading an anti-Japanese Party; but enlightened Japanese admired his courageous stand.
In 1920, Mr. Ling and his daughter, Miss Phyllis Ling, who is well versed in literature and art, made a tour of Europe, where Mr. Ling made a study of economic conditions following the great war. They spent some time in London where Mr. Ling made a study of Socialism, in company with several leading experts.
Mr. Ling was twice nominated as a delegate to the League of Nations; and he was elected one of the vice-chairmen during the Conference at Geneva. In the latter part of 1921, he returned to China, where he delivered lectures on political science, socialistic tendencies, and economy, at various universities in Peking. In 1922, a political agitation for reform took place in Peking; and Mr. Ling returned to Parliament. He was chosen as a member of a commission selected for the drawing up of a new constitution; and he framed several clauses that were very propitious in meeting the existing social conditions of the country.
In 1923, when preparations were being made to elect Marshal Tsao Kun President of the Republic, Mr. Ling, and several members of Parliament, strongly opposed the principles adopted, left the capital, and went to Shanghai, where they made strong protests against the methods used.
In 1924, Mr. Ling again visited Peking, but was oppressed by the political party in power; and he was obliged to reside in, and direct his political movement from, Tientsin. He is a scholar, a good artist, an able calligrapher, and has a good command of the English and French languages.
A.R. Burt, J.B. Powell and Carl Crow, editors, Biographies of Prominent Chinese (Shanghai: Biographical Publishing Company Inc., c.1925). 55.