|Madame Wei Tao-ming
鄭毓秀 / 蘇梅
Who's Who in China 4th ed. (1931)
|Native name||Chinese: 郑毓秀
pinyin: Zhèng Yùxiù
March 20, 1891|
Xin'an County, Guangdong, China (Great Qing)
|Died||December 16, 1959
San Francisco, California, United States
|Other names||Soumay Tcheng
Madame Wei Tao-ming (married name)
|Occupation||Lawyer, judge, revolutionist, politician, writer|
|Chinese Nationalist Party|
Tcheng Yu-hsiu (pinyin: Zhèng Yùxiù, 1891–1959), also Madame Wei Tao-ming, was the first female lawyer and judge in Chinese history. She studied in Paris, returned to Shanghai to practice law, was president of a court in the French concession, then served in the national Legislative Yuan and from 1931 to 1937 was president of University of Shanghai school of law.
Tcheng was first home-schooled, then was taken by her mother to enroll in a formal school in Beijing. Her revolutionary activities began with her family, as she refused to have her feet bound or to marry the man picked by her grandfather. Her family sent her to a mission school in Tianjin, where she learned English but refused the religion. In 1912, she met the anarchist and revolutionary organizer Li Shizeng and enrolled in the school to prepare to go to France on the Diligent Work Frugal Study program. The school was the first in China to be co-educational. She was one of the handful of women to go to France on the program. She wrote later that she and Li were part of a terrorism cell which was involved in the attempted assassination of Yuan Shih-k'ai, who had taken power from Sun Yat-sen.
By 1914 she had established herself in Paris, where she probably met other such Chinese as Wang Jingwei. In 1919, she put her French language skills to work as attachė to the Chinese delegation at the Paris Peace Conference. After the war she met and married Wei Daoming also a lawyer. She received her law doctorate from University of Paris in 1926, and returned to China. She and her husband established a law practice in Shanghai, where she became a judge in a French concession court.
She advocated women having their own voices and choices in marriage, and wrote it into the Republic of China's law. She is cited as one of the influences which guided Phan Bội Châu's development of women's rights in Vietnam.
Tcheng mentored her nephew as her own son. Paifong Robert Cheng attended the Sorbonne and majored in political science as he continued the family tradition of community service for the common good of China. He held the diplomatic post of the Chinese Ambassador to Cuba from 1946–50. Cheng's son Ching Ho Cheng is an American artist whose paintings are in several museum collections such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian. He is considered to be the first Chinese American artist to be identified in America.
Her autobiography, My Revolutionary Years (1944), published while her husband was Ambassador to the United States, is first hand accounts of modern Chinese history and has been translated into many languages.
She died of cancer in Los Angeles, 16 December, 1959.
- Wei, Yü-hsiu (Chêng) (1920). Souvenirs d'enfance et de révolution. Translated by Van Vorst, John (B. Van Vorst). Paris, Payot & cie.(French)
- Wei, Yu-hsiu [Cheng] (1943). My Revolutionary Years: The Autobiography of Madame Wei Tao-ming. New York: Scribner's sons.
- Yü-hsiu CHÊNG (1925). Le Mouvement constitutionnel en Chine. Étude de droit comparé, etc.(French)
- Wei, Yü-hsiu (Cheng) (1927). Zhongguo bi jiao xian fa lun. (Chinese)
- Wei, Yu-hsiu [Cheng] (1926). A girl from China (Soumay Tcheng). Translated by Van Vorst, Bessie (McGinnis). New York: Frederick A. Stokes company.
Sources and further reading
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