Sheng Xuanhuai

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Sheng Xuanhuai
1st Minister of Mail and Communications
of the Imperial Cabinet
In office
8 May 1911 – 26 October 1911
MonarchXuantong Emperor
Prime MinisterYikuang, Prince Qing
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byTang Shaoyi
1st President of the Imperial Tientsin University
In office
October 1895 – October 1896
Succeeded byTang Shaoyi (as Governor)
President of Nanyang Public School
In office
Succeeded byHe Zhi
Personal details
Born(1844-11-04)4 November 1844
Died27 April 1916(1916-04-27) (aged 71)
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese盛宣懷
Simplified Chinese盛宣怀

Sheng Xuanhuai (Chinese: 盛宣懷; November 4, 1844 – April 27, 1916) was a Qing dynasty Chinese tycoon, politician, and educator. He founded several major banks and universities and served as Minister of Transportation of the Qing Empire. He was also known as Sheng Gongbao (Chinese: 盛宫保; pinyin: Shèng Gōngbǎo).


Sheng was born into a family of officials, and was the eldest of six children. Sheng's father was also a close friend of General Li Hongzhang. In 1870, Li appreciated Sheng's talent, employed him as his aide and soon became his chief economic deputy. Sheng recommended that Li build more merchant ships in order to fund the military ships that the Qing government needed. Sheng's suggestion was accepted and from then on Sheng became well known for his career in ship building.

Sheng Xuanhuai's calligraphy

Taking active part in the Self-Strengthening Movement, He actively advocated using Western technology in saving the country from destitution. His influence was mainly felt in the southern part of China, specifically in Shanghai. By 1893, Sheng controlled China Merchants' Steam Navigation Company, established the Imperial Telegraphy Administration and created first successful cotton mill in China. In 1896, he took over the Hanyang ironworks and related mines, along with control of the newly created imperial railway administration.[1]

In 1895, he founded Beiyang University, the first institution of modern higher education in China. In 1896, he also founded the forerunner of Jiaotong University, which was later divided into Shanghai Jiaotong University and Xi'an Jiaotong University. He also created eleven "first", including the first modern bank, first telegraphy company, the first iron and steel joint enterprise....[2]

In 1897, official Sheng founded the Imperial Bank of China, the first Chinese owned commercial bank modeled on the Western banking system. The bank was headquartered in Shanghai and had the authority to issue notes from the Qing government.

Sheng Xuanhuai was a founder and the first president of the Red Cross Society of China, and is widely considered one of the key officials behind the then fledgling movement alongside Shen Dunhe.

After the Boxer Uprising, in 1900 when Eight Nation Alliance entered Peking, Sheng and Ronglu initiated the Mutual Protection of Southeast China, resisting Empress Dowager Cixi's Imperial Decree of declaration of war against foreign powers. Li Hongzhang, Yuan Shikai and other viceroys openly rejected Dowager's call for staging military actions against the foreign powers.[3]

In 1902, Sheng and British diplomat James Mackay negotiated and signed the Sino-British "Mackay Treaty," which anticipated the abolition of extraterritoriality in China.

In 1911, Sheng was appointed head of the Board of Posts and Communications, a high rank in the Imperial cabinet during the Qing Dynasty, until the dynasty fell in 1911. Sheng died at the age of 72 in Shanghai.[4]


Sheng's private residence in Beijing while he was serving as the postal minister, has since been turned into a hotel for the public.[5] In Shanghai, Sheng lived a mansion constructed in 1900 at No. 1517 Huaihuai Zhong Lu.[6] Tongmenghui revolutionaries Xia Chao and Gu Naibin planned to burn down the building in 1911.[7] The manor currently houses the Japanese Consulate.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sheng-Xuanhuai
  2. ^ Sheng Xuanhuai Family by Song, Luxia
  3. ^荣禄与东南互保
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-08-27. Retrieved 2011-05-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ a b Former Residence of Mandarin Sheng Xuan Huai
  7. ^ Shêng & Danian (1983), p. 158.


  • Feuerwerker, Albert. China's Early Industrialization; Sheng Hsuan-huai (1844-1916) and Mandarin Enterprise. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1958.
  • Shêng, Hu; Danian, Liu (1983). The 1911 Revolution: A Retrospective After 70 Years. New World Press.