Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ch'iu Fêng-chia

CH'IU Fêng-chia 邱逢甲 (T. 仙根, 仲閼, 蟄仙, H. 滄海, 南武山人), 1864–1912, statesman, educationist and poet, was a member of one of the oldest and most influential Chinese families in Formosa. His ancestors moved from Chên-p'ing in Kwangtung to Chang-hua (Shōka) in central Formosa in the middle of the seventeenth century. The family name, Ch'iu, was originally written with the character 丘 which was prohibited in the Ch'ing period because it was the personal name of Confucius. In his youth he studied under a distinguished local writer named Wu Tzŭ-kuang 吳子光 (T. 芸閣, H. 鐵梅老子, b. 1802, chü-jên of 1864), who taught in a wealthy family named Lü 呂 at Chang-hua. The library, Hsiao Yün Hsüan 筱雲軒, owned by this family, contained some 21,000 chüan and was probably the best private collection in Formosa at this time. Ch'iu is said to have familiarized himself with most of the books in it. In his twenties he was already distinguished as a poet throughout the Island. ln 1887 T'ang Ching-sung (see under Fêng Tzŭ-ts'ai) came to T'ai-nan (Tainan) as intendant of the Taiwan Circuit and Ch'iu was selected by him to be a student in the Hai-tung 海東 Academy of that city. In 1889 Ch'iu became a chin-shih and was designated an expectant secretary of the Board of Works. He then served as director in the Ch'ung-wên 崇文 Academy at T'ai-nan. In 1891 T'ang Ching-sung proceeded to his new post at Taipeh (Taihoku) as financial commissioner of Taiwan, and invited Ch'iu to accompany him. There Ch'iu became an influential member of the Mu-tan Shih-shê 牡丹詩社, a literary club organized by T'ang.

Ch'iu Fêng-chia was a political agitator with strong patriotic feelings. When Formosa was ceded to Japan in accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Shimonoseki (see under Li Hung-chang) there was restlessness throughout the Island. Ch'iu and other influential men requested the Peking authorities for permission to take up arms to protect the Island from Japanese encroachment, but their plea was not granted. Late in May 1895 there was established the independent Republic of Formosa (Taiwan Min-chu kuo 臺灣民主國) with T'ang Ching-sung, then acting-governor of Taiwan, as president. Ch'iu was elected vice-president and commander-in-chief of the volunteer corps. The authorities of the Republic sought recognition by foreign powers, and though they were encouraged in this by the Peking government, the plan failed. Late in June the first Japanese governor-general of Taiwan, Kabayama Sukenori 樺山資紀 (1837–1922), arrived in Formosa, and a few days later Japanese troops under the command of an Imperial Prince, Kitashirakawa-no-miya Yoshihisa 北白川宮能久 (1847–1895), occupied Kelung and Taipeh. The Japanese governor-general of Formosa (Taiwan sōtoku-fu 臺灣總督府) was thus established on July 14). T'ang Ching-sung, who seems to have accepted the presidency of the ill-fated Republic reluctantly, fled to China. Ch'iu Fêng-chia was forced to disband the volunteer corps, but some of the members continued to resist the Japanese in the central part of the Island. It is reported that Ch'iu vainly attempted to assist Liu Yung-fu (see under Fêng Tzŭ-ts'ai) in re-establishing the republic at T'ai-nan, but that city fell to Japan on October 21, 1895. Ch'iu left Formosa during that year.

After a brief sojourn at the original home of his ancestors in Kwangtung, Ch'iu Fêng-chia became director of the Han-shan 韓山 Academy at Ch'ao-chou in the same province. A few years later he was made the first director of the T'ung-wên Hsüeh-t'ang 同文學堂, a school established on the Western model in 1899 at Swatow. Then he served as director of a modern middle-school and of a school of foreign languages in Canton. His efforts to advance modern education in South China are deserving of high praise. In 1909, when provincial assemblies were first established, he was elected a member in Kwang-tung. Two years later the anti-Ch'ing revolution broke out and the independent Kwangtung Government was established (November 9, 1911) under Hu Han-min 胡漢民 (T. 展堂, 1879–1936), and Ch'iu was made head of the education department. Early in 1912, as one of the delegates from Kwangtung, he went to Nanking where he was made a member of the Administrative Committee of the Chinese Republic. There he fell suddenly ill and returned to his native place where he died soon after.

Ch'iu Fêng-chia produced many poems of a patriotic nature, but those of his early years were lost in the wars of Formosa. His later poems were collected in 12 chüan under the title, 嶺海日樓詩鈔 Ling-hai jih-lou shih-ch'ao.

[Short biographies by Chiang Shan-yüan 江山淵 and by Lo Hsiang-lin 羅香林, in the Short Story Magazine, vol. VI, no. 3 (1915) and in the National Sun Yatsen University Monthly of the Institute of History and Languages, vol. II, no. 5 (1934) respectively; Inō Yoshinori 伊能嘉矩, 臺灣文化志 Taiwan bunka shi (1929), vol. III, passim; Japanese General Staff Office, 日清戰史 Nisshin senshi (1907), chapters 39–42; Davidson, J. W., The Island of Formosa, Past and Present (1903), pp. 275–370.]

Hiromu Momose