This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925.
Mr Tan Li-sun is a native of Wusih, in the Province of Kiangsu. As a graduate of the Kiangnan Provincial College, he was sent by his government to Japan; and there he pursued a course of studies in the High Commercial College, Tokyo. After graduation, he did some practical work in Japanese banks. Upon returning to China, in 1909, he became Dean of the High Commercial College, at Nanking. In 1911, he went to Peking as a member of the Ministry of Finance; and, later, as an inspector in the Ta Ching Government Bank.
When the Revolution broke out, he joined the Finance department of the Provincial Government at Nanking, and was in charge of the issue of military notes. After the reunification of the North and South, the Ta Ching Government Bank was reorganized into the Bank of China, and Mr. Tan was made, first, director of its Accounts Department, and, then, of its Treasury Department. While in office, he introduced the modern system of book-keeping into the bank; and, largely due to his efforts, this system has now been adopted by all modern banks in China.
In 1914, he became manager of the Bank of China, at Nanking. There was a financial crisis; and a moratorium was declared on notes issued by the Bank of China and the Bank of Communications. Mr. Tan, however, acting against the concensus of opinion, tried successfully to maintain the credit of the bank; which resulted in the moratorium being confined to Peking alone. He was then transferred as manager of the Peking branch.
In 1920, he resigned from the Bank of China, and established the Continental Bank, with a capital of $5,000,000. Of this bank he is President. The head office is in Tientsin, and branches and sub-branch offices are maintained in Peking, Hankow, Shanghai, Nanking (with offices in Hsia-kwan and in the city), Soochow, Tsinanfu, Tsingtao and T’eng Hsien (Shantung). Its specializes in commercial banking business, of every description, including foreign and domestic exchange. It has accumulated a reserve of $600,000.00; and its deposits amount to more than $20,000,000.00. The offices in Tientsin and Shanghai are both equipped with concrete vaults, which contain American safety-deposit boxes for rental purposes. The saving boxes used by the Savings Department are of American manufacture.
The joint investments, made recently by the Chinese banking group, in basic industries; such as the Railway Car Loan, and the Shanghai Mint Loan,—are due largely to the initiative of Mr. Tan; and it is certain that when the political conditions in the country are more settled, the Continental Bank will be of great help to the nation’s industrial and commercial development.
A.R. Burt, J.B. Powell and Carl Crow, editors, Biographies of Prominent Chinese (Shanghai: Biographical Publishing Company Inc., c.1925), 70.