V.K. Wellington Koo (Gu Weijun) 顧維鈞

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

V.K. Wellington Koo

His Excellency Dr. V.K. Wellington Koo was born at Shanghai, in 1887. From 1899 to 1900, he studied at the Anglo-Chinese College, Shanghai; at the Yu Tsai School, from 1900-1901; and at St. John’s University, from 1901 to 1904. While at St. John’s, he edited “The Dragon”.

Dr. Koo went to America in October 1904. He prepared for college at Cook Academy, during 1904-1905. At Columbia University he studied Liberal Arts, from 1905-1908, and Political Science, from 1908 to 1912. He received the degree of A.B. in 1908; A.M. in 1909; and Ph.D. in 1912. While in America, Dr. Koo was a member of the American Society of International Law and of the American Political Science Association. He was elected to the Nacoms, The Blue Pencil, and Delta Upsilon Rho Societies, in 1911. He was the recipient of the Philolescean Literary Prize, and the Columbia-Cornell Debating Medal; and was elected a Member of the “Varsity” Debating team, 1906-1907. He was the Editor of the “Columbia Spectator”, the “Chinese Students’ Monthly”, and the “Chinese Students’ Annual”, and was manager of the “Columbia Monthly”. He was always a popular speaker in America.

Dr. Koo returned to China in April 1912. He immediately joined the government, as secretary of the Cabinet and of the President. In August 1912, he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as a secretary; and in October of the same year, he was promoted to be a councillor. He held these offices until 1915.

In July 1915, Dr. Koo was appointed Chinese Minister to Mexico; and was subsequently awarded the Second Class Tashou Chiaho decoration. In October 1915, he was transferred to be the Chinese Minister to the United States, and Cuba. Dr. Koo became a member of the Columbia Union Club, in 1915, and the Metropolitan Club, in 1916. He was awarded the Honorary degree of LL.D. by Yale University, in 1916.

In January 1916, Dr. Koo was appointed Chinese Delegate to the Paris Peace Conference. At the conference he was one of the chief advocates of the refusal to sign the Treaty. However, in 1919, he was appointed Chinese Delegate to the League of Nations.

In September 1920, he was transferred to be Chinese Envoy-Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of St. James. In December 1920, he was elected a member of the Administrative Council of the League of Nations, and, for a time, served as Chairman of the Council. When he was elected to that honorable seat, he was awarded, by the Chinese Government, the Third Order of Merit. In October 1921, Dr. Koo was appointed one of the four Chinese Delegates to the Washington Conference. In November 1921, he was given the rank of Ambassador. In March 1922, Dr. Koo received the First Class Tashou Chiaho and First Class Wenhu decorations.

He returned to Peking, in May 1922, to confer with the government upon diplomatic questions in consequence of the Washington Conference. In June 1922, he was appointed President of the Commission for the Discussion of National Financial Questions. In October 1922, he was given the First Class Tashou Paokuang Chiahao. In November 1922, he was ordered to serve, concurrently, as Chief of the Preparation Bureau for the Special Tariff Conference. In the same month, he was relieved of the portfolio of Foreign Affairs. In January 1924, he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs; and served then, for a time, as Acting Premier.

His Alma Mater (St. John’s) has conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. He has been similarly honored by Columbia University and other educational institutions in America.

V.K. Wellington Koo text


A.R. Burt, J.B. Powell and Carl Crow, editors, Biographies of Prominent Chinese (Shanghai: Biographical Publishing Company Inc., c.1925). 53.