This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925.
His Excellency Sao Ke Alfred Sze, popularly known as Dr. Alfred Sze, was born in Chengtse, Kiangsu, in 1877. He received his early modern education at St. John’s University, Shanghai, between 1888 and 1892. During this time he gained some experience, as editor of “St. John’s Echo”, a students’ weekly.
In 1893, Dr. Sze was appointed to serve as an interpreter, on the staff of the Chinese Legation at Washington D.C.; and was thus enabled to attend Washington High School, during the years 1893-1896. In 1897, he entered Cornell University, where he took up the study of Liberal Arts. He was graduated in 1901 with the degree of A.B.; and with that of M.A., in 1902. During his stay at Cornell, he served as editor of the “Cornellian”. He is also the holder of the Phi Beta Kappa Key.
In 1902, Dr. Sze returned to China; and soon afterward, he was appointed Secretary of Foreign Affairs to Viceroy Chang Chi-tung, of Hupeh. In 1904, he became Secretary to Viceroy Tuan Fang. In 1906, Dr. Sze was transferred to Peking for service as acting junior secretary of the Board of Communications. In 1907, he became Director of the Peking-Hankow Railway; and in 1908, Director of the Northern Railway, a much more important position. Later he resigned to become Customs Taotai at Harbin. In July 1910, he served as Acting Commissioner of Foreign Affairs for Kirin Province.
In the latter part of 1910, he was appointed Junior Councillor to the Board of Foreign Affairs; and in August 1911, was promoted to Senior Councillor. He was sent as Imperial Commissioner to the International Plague Prevention Conference at Mukden, April 1911.
Just previous to the outbreak of the revolution, Dr. Sze was nominated Chinese Minister to America, Mexico, Cuba, and Peru, but did not proceed. Later, he accepted the post of Minister of Communications, acting concurrently as Minister of Finance in the Tong Shao-yi Cabinet, Advisor to President Yuan Shih-kai, and Master of Ceremonies for the President.
In 1913, Dr. Sze was appointed Minister to Great Britain; in 1919, he was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to the Peace Conference at Versailles; and in February 1920, he was transferred to serve as Minister to the United States of America. In September 1921, he was awarded the First Order of Wenhu, and appointed Chief of the Chinese Delegation to the Washington Conference. In March 1922, he was awarded the First Class Tashou Paokuang Chiaho, and the Second Order of Merit. In June of the same year, the Columbia University of New York conferred upon him the honorary degree of LL.D.
In November 1922, Dr. Sze returned to China, and, after spending some time in the Capital going over diplomatic questions, was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. But, as he was not satisfied with the condition of political affairs, he returned to Washington to resume his post as Minister to the United States.
Dr. Sze is related by marriage to His Excellency Tong Shao-yi, former Premier. He is very fond of curios and considered a connoisseur.
A.R. Burt, J.B. Powell and Carl Crow, editors, Biographies of Prominent Chinese (Shanghai: Biographical Publishing Company Inc., c.1925). 45.