V. K. Wellington Koo

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V. K. Wellington Koo
Vi-Hyuin Wellington Koo, Half length, standing, facing front, outdoors.jpg
V.K. Wellington Koo, circa 1912
Premier of the Republic of China
In office
2 July 1924 – 14 September 1924
President Cao Kun
Preceded by Sun Baoqi
Succeeded by Yan Huiqing
In office
1 October 1926 – 16 June 1927
Preceded by Du Xigui
Succeeded by Hu Weide
President of the Republic of China
Interim
In office
1 October 1926 – 16 June 1927
Preceded by Du Xigui (Acting)
Succeeded by Zhang Zuolin
Ambassador from ROC to United States
In office
27 June 1946 – 1956
Preceded by Wei Daoming
Succeeded by Dong Xiangguang
Personal details
Born (1887-01-29)29 January 1887
Shanghai, Qing China
Died 14 November 1985(1985-11-14) (aged 98)
New York City, New York, United States
Nationality Chinese
Spouse(s) Zhang Run'e (m. 1908)
Tang Baoyue (m. 1913–1918)
Oei Hui-lan (m. 1920–1985)
Yen Yu-ying (m. 1959–1985)
Children Gu Dechang, Gu Juzhen, Gu Yuchang, Gu Fuchang
Alma mater Columbia University
Occupation Diplomat, politician
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Koo.
V. K. Wellington Koo
Traditional Chinese 顧維鈞
Simplified Chinese 顾维钧

V. K. Wellington Koo (29 January 1887 – 14 November 1985), whose Chinese name is variously romanized as Koo Vi Kyuin, Ku Wei-chün, and Gu Weijun, was a Chinese diplomat from the Republic of China. He was one of China's representatives at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919; served as an Ambassador to France, Great Britain and the United States; was a participant in the founding of the League of Nations and the United Nations; sat as a judge on the International Court of Justice in The Hague from 1957 to 1967. Between October 1926 and June 1927, while serving as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Koo briefly held the concurrent positions of acting Premier and interim President of the Republic of China.[1] Koo is the first and only Chinese head of state known to use a Western name publicly.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Shanghai in 1887, Koo attended Saint John's University, Shanghai, and Columbia College, where he was a member of the Philolexian Society, a literary and debating club, and graduated in 1908. In 1912 he received his Ph.D. in international law and diplomacy from Columbia University.[1]

Koo returned to China in 1912 to serve the new Republic of China as English Secretary to President Yuan Shikai. In 1915, Koo was made China's Minister to the United States and Cuba. In 1919, he was a member of the Chinese delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, led by Foreign Minister Lou Tseng-Tsiang. Before the Western powers and Japan, he demanded that Japan return Shandong to China. He also called for an end to imperialist institutions such as extraterritoriality, tariff controls, legation guards, and lease holds. The Western powers refused his claims and, consequently, the Chinese delegation at the Paris Peace Conference was the only nation that did not sign the Treaty of Versailles at the signing ceremony.

Koo also was involved in the formation of the League of Nations as China's first representative to the newly formed League. He was briefly Acting Premier, Interim President, and Foreign Minister in 1926–1927 during a period of chaos in Beijing under Zhang Zuolin. He represented China at the League of Nations to protest the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. He served as the Chinese Ambassador to France from 1936–1940, until France was occupied by Germany. Afterwards, he was the Chinese Ambassador to the Court of St James's until 1946. In 1945, Koo was one of the founding members of the United Nations. He later became the Chinese Ambassador to the United States and focused in maintaining the alliance between the Republic of China and the United States as the Kuomintang began losing to the Communists and had to retreat to Taiwan.[2]

Koo retired from the Chinese diplomatic service in 1956. In 1956 he became a judge of the International Court of Justice in The Hague and served as Vice-President of the Court during the final three years of his term. In 1967, he retired and moved to New York City, where he lived until his death in 1985.[1]

Personal life[edit]

In 1908, Koo married his first wife, Chang Jun-e (simplified Chinese: 张润娥; traditional Chinese: 張潤娥; pinyin: Zhāng Rùn'é). They divorced prior to 1912.[3]

Koo's second wife, Tang Pao-yu "May" (simplified Chinese: 唐宝玥; traditional Chinese: 唐寶玥; pinyin: Táng Bǎoyuè; c. 1895–1918), was the youngest daughter of the former Chinese prime minister Tang Shaoyi and a first cousin of the painter and actress Mai-Mai Sze.[4][5][6][7] Their marriage took place soon after Koo's return to China in 1912. She died in an influenza epidemic in 1918.[8] They had two children: a son, Teh-chang Koo (1916–1998),[9] and a daughter, Patricia Koo (b. 1918).

Koo's third wife was Oei Hui-lan (simplified Chinese: 黄蕙兰; traditional Chinese: 黃蕙蘭; pinyin: Huáng Huìlán; 1899–1992).[10][11][12] She married Koo in Brussels, Belgium in 1921.[13][14] (She was reportedly previously the wife of Count Wittingham or of Count Hoey Stoker.)[15][16][17] Much admired for her adaptations of traditional Manchu fashion, which she wore with lace trousers and jade necklaces,[18] Oei Hui-lan was one of the 42 acknowledged children of the Peranakan Chinese sugar magnate Oei Tiong Ham.[19] She wrote two memoirs: Hui-Lan Koo (Mrs. Wellington Koo): An Autobiography (written with Mary Van Rensselaer Thayer, Dial Press, 1945)[20][21] and No Feast Lasts Forever (written with Isabella Taves, Quadrangle/The New York Times, 1975).[22] Koo had two sons with her: Yu-chang Koo (1922–1975, also Wellington Koo, Jr.) and Fu-chang Koo (1923–1977, a.k.a. Freeman Koo).[23][24]

On 3 September 1959, Koo married his fourth wife Yen Yu-ying (a.k.a. Juliana Yen / Juliana Koo; simplified Chinese: 严幼韵; traditional Chinese: 嚴幼韵; pinyin: Yán Yòuyùn; b. 1905),[25] the widow of Clarence Kuangson Young.[26][27] He had three stepdaughters from this marriage: Genevieve, Shirley, and Frances Loretta Young.[28][29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Saxon, Wolfgang (November 16, 1985). "V.K. Wellington Koo Dies. A Former Premier Of China". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-12-09. "Dr. V. K. Wellington Koo, a Nationalist Chinese diplomat, a former Prime Minister and a signer of the United Nations Charter, died Thursday night at his home in Manhattan. Dr. Koo, whose ties to the United States date from his student days at Columbia University, was 97 years old. ..." 
  2. ^ http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12140-013-9201-z
  3. ^ Richard Dean Burns and Edward Moore Bennett, Diplomats in Crisis: United States-Chinese-Japanese Relations, 1919–1941 (ABC-Clio, 1974), pages 127 and 148
  4. ^ Time. 30 April 1928 http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,786326,00.html |url= missing title (help). 
  5. ^ Time. 21 February 1927 http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,751602,00.html |url= missing title (help). 
  6. ^ http://www.old-picture.com/american-history-1900-1930s/Wellington-wife-and-Koo.htm
  7. ^ "Chinese Minister to Mexico Chosen: V.K. Wellington Koo, Graduate of Columbia, Also Envoy to Peru and Cuba", The New York Times, 26 July 1915
  8. ^ Boorman Biographical Dictionary Vol II p. 255.
  9. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths KOO, TEH, CHANG". The New York Times. 14 July 1998. 
  10. ^ "Tracy Tang to Wed Stephen Limpe". The New York Times. 12 August 1990. 
  11. ^ http://archive.is/20120719175213/http://lafayette.150m.com/asia.html
  12. ^ http://www.thingsasian.com/stories-photos/2888
  13. ^ Mary Van Rensselaer Thayer, "Mme. Koo Sees Our Future Linked With China's", The New York Times, 5 February 1939
  14. ^ http://lafayette.150m.com/asia.html
  15. ^ "General News", The Herald and Presbyter, 20 October 1920, page 21
  16. ^ "Alumni Notes", Columbia Alumni News, Volume 12 (1 April 1921), page 378
  17. ^ Susan Mann, Margaret Macdonald: Imperial Daughter (McGill-Queen's Press), page 147
  18. ^ Mary Van Renssaelaer Thayer, "Mme. Koo Sees Our Future Linked With China's", The New York Times, 5 February 1939
  19. ^ "Obituary: Mme. Oei Tong Ham, Mother in Law of Dr. Koo, Chinese Ambassador to U.S.", The New York Times, 1 February 1947
  20. ^ "Mrs. Koo Explains Withdrawal of Book", The New York Times, 27 April 1943
  21. ^ "Mrs. Wellington Koo's Life Story", The New York Times, 31 October 1945
  22. ^ http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2007/4/1/lifearts/17275500&sec=lifearts
  23. ^ "Koo's Son Made Citizen; Daughter-in-Law of Ex-Envoy of China Also Takes Oath", The New York Times, 15 August 1956
  24. ^ http://www.macjannet.org/files/Publications/schoolmaster/book2.pdf
  25. ^ "Lessons of 107 Birthdays: Don't Exercise, Avoid Medicine and Never Look Back", The New York Times (online), 24 September 2012
  26. ^ Patricia Burgess, The Annual Obituary, 1985 (Gale Group, 1988), page 592
  27. ^ Frances C. Locher and Ann Evory, Contemporary Authors: Volumes 81–84 (Gale Research Company, 1979), page 303
  28. ^ Boorman, Biographical Dictionary Vol II p. 259.
  29. ^ Wife's maiden name given in William L. Tung, Revolutionary China: A Personal Account, 1926–1949 (St. Martin's Press, 1973), page 33

Sources[edit]

  • "Ku Wei-chun," in Howard Boorman, Richard Howard, eds. Biographical Dictionary of Republican China New York: Columbia University Press, 1968, Vol 2 pp. 255–259.
  • Chervin, Reed H. "Turmoil in the Taiwan Strait: Wellington Koo and ROC Foreign Policy 1953-1956." East Asia: An International Quarterly, 2013, Vol 4 pp. 291–306.
  • Clements, Jonathan. Makers of the Modern World: Wellington Koo. London: Haus Publishing, 2008.
  • Craft, Stephen G. V.K. Wellington Koo and the Emergence of Modern China. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2003.
  • Hui-lan Oei Koo, with Mary Van Rensselaer Thayer, Hui-Lan Koo: An Autobiography New York: Dial Press, 1943.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Sun Baoqi
Premier of the Republic of China
1924
Succeeded by
Yan Huiqing
Preceded by
Du Xigui
President of the Republic of China
1926–1927
Succeeded by
Zhang Zuolin
as Generalissimo of the Military Government
Preceded by
Du Xigui
Premier of the Republic of China
1926–1927
Succeeded by
Pan Fu
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Wei Daoming
China's Ambassador to the United States
1946–1956
Succeeded by
Chai Zemin