Sze Sao-tseng (Shi Zhaozeng) 施肇曾

This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925.

Sze Sao-tseng


Mr. Sze Sao-tseng, better known as Sze Sing-tse, was born in Tseng-Zeh, Kiangsu, in 1866. Coming from a humble family, he was ambitious in his youth; and he educated himself in modern schools. During this time, he acquired a very good knowledge of the Chinese and English languages. He spent many years in the study of railway construction and political economy; and in the several positions which he later held, he proved himself a very capable diplomat.

Mr. Sze began his official career as Attaché to the Imperial Chinese Legation at Washington D.C., in 1893. He served thus for two years, and was then appointed Consul-General to New York, where he served for another two years. During his residence in America, he took advantage of the opportunity to study American methods, manners, and customs. He devoted much attention to banking; which later proved of great value to him in the financial world.

Upon his return to China, he accepted the position of Chief Deputy of the Hanyang Iron Works, near Hankow; and he took charge of the construction work of the Peking-Hankow Railway. In recognition of his services, rendered in the construction of the Peking-Hankow Railway, he was appointed Managing Director of the Shanghai-Nanking Railway. In 1911, Mr. Sze was appointed Director-General of the Lunghai Railway and, concurrently, of the Tatung-Chengtu Railway. These posts he retained until 1923. Mr. Sze has served continually as a member of the Board of Directors of the China Merchants Steam Navigation Company. In 1919, he was sent to Europe as the Chief Representative to the International Conference on Customs Duties. In 1920, he was given the First Class Tashou Chiaho decoration.

Hoping to benefit the public at large, Mr. Sze founded the Central Hospital in Peking, a modern and up-to-date organization, which was opened in January 1918. His son, Dr. Tsann-yoen Philip Sze, a graduate of the Medical Department of George Washington University, acted for him as Superintendent of the Hospital.

Mr. Sze has acquired a good deal of experience in finance; and he has been elected to the boards of directors of various banks, the shareholders and clients of which have full confidence in his good management. He is always ready and willing to join in any form of public service; and he has contributed large sums to educational institutions. Wishing to see China retain the classical studies, its national pride, he has established a school at Wusih, Kiangsu, for the study of ancient classics. He has succeeded in reprinting the Chinese Thirteen Ancient Classics.

As a philanthropist he has established a benevolent association, and has allotted numerous pieces of land for the support of his poor deserving kinsmen.

During recent years he has devoted the majority of his time to the study of Buddhism. His eminent brother, Honorable Sao Ke Alfred Sze, formerly Minister to the Court of St. James, is now Chinese Minister to Washington D.C.

Sze Sao-tseng


A.R. Burt, J.B. Powell and Carl Crow, editors, Biographies of Prominent Chinese (Shanghai: Biographical Publishing Company Inc., c.1925). 75.