Young Sze-kan (Yang Shukan) 楊庶堪

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

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His Excellency Young Sze-Kan, a native of Pa Hsien, Szechuan Province, was born in 1880. As a youth, he distinguished himself by his ability as a student; and, at the age of nineteen, passed the scholastic examinations with high honors. Having a good command of the English Language, he taught in the Chungking Middle School, Chungking, the Chengtu Normal School, Chengtu, and in many other schools, in Szechuan. Later, he served as President of the Yung Ning Middle School and the Chungking Middle School.

Mr. Young secretly enrolled as a member of the Revolutionists Alliance, of which he acted as division chief, at different times. He revolted against the Manchu Government, on several occasions, without success. In 1911, at the outbreak of the revolution, Mr. Young, and two associates, leading two hundred men, with the help of former Manchu forces in the city of Chungking, succeeded in establishing the Revolutionary Government in Szechuan. After the new government was put in force, he went to Foutu Kwan, where he retired to private life, offering his advice and help to the Provincial Government on military or political questions. He declined the offer to serve as Chairman of the Provincial Assembly of Szechuan.

In 1913, at the outbreak of the Second Revolution, when Kiangsi, Hunan, Kwangtung, and Fukien provinces revolted against President Yuan Shih-kai, Mr. Young persuaded General Hsiung Keh-wu, then Commander-in-Chief of the Fifth National Army Division of Szechuan, to join forces with the revolutionists. Mr. Young was appointed Chief of Civil Affairs when General Hsiung was made Commander-in-Chief of the Federated Forces against President Yuan Shih-kai. The movement failed, and Mr. Young took refuge in Japan. There he met Dr. Sun Yat-sen, whose principles he approved of and encouraged.

While in Japan, Mr. Young devoted his time to writing, in addition to taking active part in revolutionary work. He is the author of the “Anglo-Chinese Vocabulary”, a great help to students of foreign languages. Before this work could be published, he joined the expedition to suppress the monarchical movement started by President Yuan Shih-kai. He joined forces with General Cheng Chi-mei, taking part in engagements along the Yangtze Valley. He took an active part in the battle of the Shanghai Naval Forces against the Army, most of the necessary funds for General Cheng’s army being raised by Mr. Young.

In 1917, Mr. Young was elected a member of the Senate. During the same year, owing to General Chang Hsun’s movement to restore the Manchu rulers, Parliament was dissolved. Dr. Sun Yat-sen, who had organized the Constitutional Government at Canton, in opposition to the Peking Government, appointed Mr. Young as Civil Governor of Szechuan. During his term of office many valuable improvements were introduced concerning the appointment and dismissal of officials, the establishment of industrial institutions, and the forming of the Volunteer Corps. Unable to carry out his plans, due to the military state of affairs, he tendered his resignation, two years later, and left for Shanghai.

In 1922, during the drive led by Yunnan and Kwangsi forces against General Chen Chiung-ming, Mr. Young was entrusted, by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, with a commission to encourage the troops at the front. Later he was appointed Chief of the Secretariat of the Headquarters under Dr. Sun, then Generalissimo of the forces in Canton. He rendered valuable help in maintaining a friendly feeling among the different provincial forces quartered at Canton. In February 1923, he was appointed Civil Governor of Kwangtung Province by Dr. Sun, in which office he served for ten months, and was responsible for instituting much needed improvements in the administration of affairs. November 24, 1924, he was appointed Minister of Agriculture and Commerce.

Mr. Young is known for his strong personality, and for his ability to handle difficult situations. He is a learned scholar, and devotes a great deal of his time to the reading and writing of books.

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A.R. Burt, J.B. Powell and Carl Crow, editors, Biographies of Prominent Chinese (Shanghai: Biographical Publishing Company Inc., c.1925). 50.