This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925.
Mr. Sung Wei-jen, a native of Chinhai district, Chekiang Province, was born in 1866. Even as a youth, he was exceptionally industrious; and, at the early age of twenty-three, succeeded in organizing the Set Cheong Match Factory, one of the pioneer match manufacturing companies in China.
After six years, the Shanghai business, under his personal supervision, proved to be a great success, so he looked forward to other fields for an opportunity to expand. Hankow, the outlet for all products of the vast central part of China, fed by nine provinces, seemed to offer the best possibilities for the future; so he settled there, and, after careful investigation, succeeded in establishing his second match factory. No end of difficulties were encountered, but eventually the factory was also put upon a paying basis.
His remarkable personality and his ability to promote successful enterprises made it possible for him to organize the Hankow Waterworks and Electric Light Company, a stupendous undertaking which involved even greater difficulties than those encountered in his previous ventures. An efficient water system was needed, especially to fight the fires that often occurred resulting in considerable loss of life and property in the city. Years of struggle eventually brought about the success that he deserved in this work, which was considered by far his greatest achievment. Mr. Sung was elected President and General Manager, and served in this capacity for sixteen years.
His success created a desire of further progress. An abundant reserve of minerals was to be found in the territory bordering on Hankow; therefore Mr. Sung proceeded to devote a great deal of his time to mining development. He was responsible for the opening of two copper mines and one coal mine in Hupeh and Hunan provinces. The copper was used to supply the mints that produced copper coins, the raw material for which having previously been imported from foreign countries. He later developed the Tao Cheong Potassium Chlorate plant to supply products which had previously been imported.
In recognition of his efforts in the promotion of industry, and of his loyal services to society, industrial circles, as well as the government, have awarded Mr. Sung many decorations. While being himself satisfied with what he terms his modest endeavors, his valuable contributions towards the industrial development of the country were appreciated by officials at Peking, and, in 1914, he was appointed Councillor of the Senate. He carried out his duties to the fullest extent, and proved to be an able representative of the people. He has served as Advisor to the Ex-President Li Yuan-hung, the Vice-President, and the Military Governor of Hupeh Province. He is also known as a generous philanthropist.
Owing to his advanced age, Mr. Sung lives in retirement, reaping the fruits of his energetic efforts. As a great leader of industry, he commands the respect of the entire nation.
A.R. Burt, J.B. Powell and Carl Crow, editors, Biographies of Prominent Chinese (Shanghai: Biographical Publishing Company Inc., c.1925), 68.