This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925.
Mr. M.Y. San, a native of Hsiang Shan Hsien, Kwangtung Province, was born in 1878. A bright lad, he paid special attention to all of the details of whatever he undertook to do. Research was his hobby. When still very young, he entertained ambitions for a career as a commercial and industrial leader; but he determined to seek a new field for future development, considering that his native province did not offer sufficient opportunities, at that time.
He chose as his objective, the Philippine Islands, where there were many Chinese. The first enterprise which he undertook was the manufacture of sweets and biscuits at Manila. After passing through many difficulties, some almost amounting to a crisis, his efforts were crowned with success. The business continued to prosper; and Mr. San eventually acquired considerable means.
In 1912, after the establishment of the Republic, Mr. San decided that he would shift his business interests to China, where such an industry as his, developed along modern lines, was badly needed. He went to Canton, where he succeeded in raising a three million dollar capital for the establishment of a large sweets and biscuit factory in Hongkong, under British registration, the name of which was to be the M.Y. San Co. Ltd. Shortly afterwards, a subsidiary business was organized for the preparation and packing of sweetened ginger; and shortly after that, in order to supply the need of glass jars for the packing of the various products manufactured, a glass works was established.
Several years later, Mr. San went to Shanghai to establish there the head office of his firm. A large shop was opened on the leading thoroughfare of that city; and many branches were opened in various provincial cities of China, with a few in the South Sea Islands. The sweets and biscuit trade has since extended to foreign markets.
Realizing that the cost of sugar, the chief ingredient of his products, could be greatly reduced if purchased in the raw state and refined by his own industry, he promoted the China National Sugar Refining Co. Ltd., to have a capital of ten million dollars. He was elected President of this company. A large plant was erected and equipped at Woosung, near Shanghai. The Chinese Government granted a tax exemption for the products of that company for a period of ten years.
In 1922, Mr. San made a trip around the world to investigate sugar production in various foreign countries. He visited Great Britain, America, Germany, France, Holland, Switzerland, and Japan, and as a result, he was enabled to introduce the most modern methods of refining into his plant.
Mr. San continues to serve as President of the M.Y. San Confectionary and Biscuit Manufacturing Co. Ltd., and the China National Sugar Refining Co. Ltd. He travels a great deal between Shanghai and Hongkong in the interests of these firms. He is no doubt one of China’s most progressive commercial men.
A.R. Burt, J.B. Powell and Carl Crow, editors, Biographies of Prominent Chinese (Shanghai: Biographical Publishing Company Inc., c.1925), 67.