This article is excerpted fromBiographies of Prominent Chinesepublished in Shanghai in c.1925.
Admiral Sah Chen-ping was born at Foochow, in 1859. During his boyhood, he studied in Confucian Schools; but, prior to the completion of his classical studies, he joined the naval academy at Foochow. After his graduation from the naval academy, he was sent to England to pursue higher studies. While there, he attended the Royal Naval College at Greenwich.
Admiral Sah received his practical training on a British man-of-war, aboard which he served for nearly three years after his graduation from the naval academy in England. Upon his return to China, he was engaged as an instructor in the Tientsin Naval Academy, and had the honor of being the teacher of former President Li Yuan-hung, who was then a pupil in that institution. In 1885, he joined the Chinese Navy, and the first office he held was that of Captain of the training ship “Kwangchi”. He served throughout the Sino-Japanese War, with credit to himself, on many occasions showing undaunted bravery and courage. Upon the termination of the war, he returned to his native city and retired from active service for one year.
He was placed in command of one of the Woosung Forts. In 1902, he was promoted to Brigadier-General, with headquarters at Nan Ao Chen, Kwangtung. In 1903, he was appointed to command the Peiyang Squadron. Later he was appointed, by an Imperial edict, Admiral for Kwangtung. In November 1906, he received the concurrent appointment of Commander-in-Chief of the land, and sea forces, in the same province. In January 1908, he gave up the land command, but retained command of the sea forces of the province.
In February 1909, Admiral Sah was appointed Commissioner for Naval Re-organization; and four months later, he was made High Commissioner for Naval Re-organization. He vacated this important office, several months later, when he was commissioned, by Imperial edict, to serve as Admiral in charge of the Fleet.
In October, of the same year, he accompanied Prince Tsai Hsun upon his naval commission to Europe; and, in the following year, to Japan and America.
When the first revolution broke out, in 1911, he was in command of the Imperial naval forces. Under instructions from Peking, he took several cruisers to Hankow for action against the revolutionists. Owing to the lack of supplies, and to the continual defections among his crew, he was forced to vacate his command.
After the revolution, he became President of the Maritime Academy at Woosung. In August 1913, when the second revolution commenced, he was appointed, by the late President Yuan Shih-kai, to serve as Director-General of Land and River Police at Shanghai and Woosung. In 1914, he was made a member of the State Council which functioned as Parliament. Shorty after, he was appointed Director-General of all the arsenals in China. In the winter of 1916, he went to Canton to play the part of peace maker, in settling the differences between General Lu Yung-ting and General Lung Chi-kwang. Soon after he was appointed High Inspecting Commissioner of Kwangtung and Fukien and Commander-in-Chief of the Navy.
In June 1917, shortly before the monarchical movement of General Chang Hsun, Admiral Sah was appointed Minister of Navy, but he did not take up this office. Later he was appointed High Sea Inspecting General, but also declined this offer. At the request of the President, he, however, went to Peking to accept an appointment as Advisor to the President’s office. In 1918, he was sent to Fukien in the capacity of Director-General for the suppression of bandits in that province. In December 1919, he was appointed Minister of the Navy. In addition to holding this office, he also acted as Premier in May 1920, upon the refusal of General Chin Yun-peng to continue to function as head of the Cabinet.
October 15th, 1922, he was appointed Civil Governor of Fukien Province. In September of the same year he was commissioned to enforce anti-opium laws in Fukien. He has been awarded the First Class Chiaho and Wenhu decorations.
A.R. Burt, J.B. Powell and Carl Crow, editors,Biographies of Prominent Chinese(Shanghai: Biographical Publishing Company Inc., c.1925). 18.