Wang Ch'ung-hui

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Wang Ch'ung-hui
Wang Chonghui 01.jpg
Foreign Minister of the Republic of China
In office
1937–1941
Preceded by Chang Ch'un
Succeeded by Quo Tai-chi
Premier of the Republic of China
In office
1922
Preceded by Yan Huiqing
Succeeded by Wang Daxie
Personal details
Born 1881
Died 1958

Wang Ch'ung-hui (traditional Chinese: 王寵惠; simplified Chinese: 王宠惠; pinyin: Wáng Chǒnghuì; Wade–Giles: Wang² Ch'ung³-hui⁴, 1881–1958) was a prominent Chinese jurist, diplomat and politician who served the Republic of China from its foundation in 1912 until his death in 1958. He was a close associate of the republic's founding father, Sun Yat-sen, an active member of the Kuomintang ("Chinese Nationalist Party"), and a judge on the Permanent Court of International Justice in the Hague.

Early life[edit]

Wang was born in Hong Kong in 1881, and graduated in 1900 from Peiyang University where he studied law. After briefly teaching at Nanyang Public School, in 1901 he continued his study in Japan, and later traveled to the United States attending the University of California and Yale. He received the degree of Doctor of Civil Law from Yale Law School in 1905.[1] Wang was called to the bar by the Middle Temple in 1907. In the same year, his translation of the German Civil Code (of 1896) into English was published.[2] During 1907 and 1911, he studied comparative law in Germany and France.

He returned to China from London in the autumn of 1911, and when the anti-dynastic Xinhai Revolution of October 10 began, he became adviser to Chen Qimei, the revolutionary military governor of Shanghai. He represented Guangdong at the Nanking convention which elected Dr. Sun Yat-sen provisional president of the Republic of China.

Shanghai[edit]

In 1912, Wang was designated first minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of China. After the rise of Yuan Shih-k'ai, Wang was named minister of justice in the cabinet of T'ang Shao-yi. He participated in drafting the republic's provisional constitution of 1912. Tang resigned in June 1912, and a month later Wang did the same. He moved to Shanghai and assumed the roles of vice-chancellor of Futan University and chief editor of the Chunghua Book Company.

Guangzhou[edit]

Though he stayed out of some major political events during the early anti-Yuan era, in May 1916 he became deputy commissioner for foreign affairs of the military council in Canton, headed by Liang Ch'i-ch'ao and Ts'ai O.

Wang served as chief justice of the Chinese supreme court in 1920 and justice minister of the "Peking" or "northern" government of Li Yuan-hung in June 1922. He briefly served as acting prime minister from September to November 1922. It was amid continued political power struggles and warlord rivalries that Wang gladly accepted an appointment as deputy judge of the Permanent Court of International Justice in the Hage from 1923–1925.

Beijing[edit]

Wang Ch'ung-hui talks about the Sino-Japanese relationship with Japanese reporters as Foreign Minister of the Republic of China in March 1937.

Wang returned to Peking in 1925. In 1926, he was elected to the Central Supervisory Committee of the northern government and he also briefly served as minister of education under prime minister W.W. Yen. In mid-1927, he left Peking and joined Chiang Kai-shek's Nanking government, serving as justice minister. He was fundamental in formulating the principles underlying the Republic of China's criminal and civil codes. When the Judicial Yuan was created in 1928, Wang was its first president. He retained that post, and became a member of the State Council, from 1928–31. During these years, he worked to rid China of the extraterritoriality imposed by European powers and Japan. A loyal follower of Sun Yat-sen, Wang also worked to move China into the "political tutelage" phase of the revolution which would pave the way for China to become a constitutional democracy.

In 1930, Wang was elected judge on the Permanent Court of International Justice, but he delayed his acceptance as he was guiding the process of drawing up the provisional constitution of 1931. He assumed his post in the Hague in 1931, and served out his term until 1936. He returned to China that year and was seen as a moderating influence in Nanking during the Sian Incident in December of that year.

Wang Ch'ung-hui served as foreign minister from March 1937 - April 1941, a painful time during which Japanese invasion would kill millions of Chinese civilians and force the ROC government to relocate from Nanking to a provisional capital in Chungking. On August 21, 1937, he signed the Sino-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact with Soviet foreign minister Bogomoloff. This guaranteed the Soviet Union's financial support to the Kuomintang government, though they continued supporting Communist insurgents too.

In 1942, Wang became secretary general of the Chinese Supreme Defense Council. In this capacity, he accompanied President Chiang Kai-shek to India in 1942 and the Cairo Conference in 1943. In 1943, he also began serving on the People's Political Council.

Taipei[edit]

Dr. Wang was a member of the Chinese delegation to the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945. Upon his return to China, he served as director of the Far Eastern Branch Committee of the Commission for the Investigation of Pacific War Crimes. Wang then worked on the framing of the Republic of China's constitution, which was promulgated on January 1, 1947. In 1948, he was elected member of the Academia Sinica and once again became minister of justice. As mainland China fell to Communist insurgency in 1949, Wang relocated to Taipei.

Upon his resettlement in Taiwan, Wang served on the Kuomintang's Central Reform Committee and its successor, the Central Advisory Committee. He continued to serve as president of the Judicial Yuan until his death on March 15, 1958. He was survived by his wife and a son, named Ta-hung.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Spiermann, Ole (2006). "Judge Wang Chung-hui at the Permanent Court of International Justice". Chinese Journal of International Law 5 (1): 115–128. doi:10.1093/chinesejil/jml013. 
  2. ^ Wang, Chung Hui (1907). The German Civil Code, Translated and Annotated, with an Historical Introduction and Appendices. London: Stevens and Sons, Ltd. 
  • Columbia University: Biographical Dictionary of Republican China, Vol. 3
Preceded by
Chang Ch'un
Foreign Minister of the Republic of China
1937–1941
Succeeded by
Quo Tai-chi
Preceded by
Yan Huiqing
Premier of the Republic of China
1922
Succeeded by
Wang Daxie