Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Chang Chih-tung

CHANG Chih-tung 張之洞 (T. 孝達, H. 香(薌)濤, 香巖, 壺公, 無競居士, 抱氷), Sept. 2, 1837–1909, Oct. 4, official and reformer, was a native of Nan-p'i, Chihli. His great-grandfather, Chang I-hsiung 張怡熊, was a district magistrate in Chekiang; his grandfather, Chang T'ing-ch'ên 張廷琛, was a district magistrate in Fukien; and his father, Chang Ying 張鍈 (T. 又甫, H. 春潭, 1793-1856, chü-jên of 1813), was an intendant in Kweichow. Chang Chih-tung received an excellent classical education and in 1852 led the list of those who received the chü-jên degree in the Chihli provincial examinations. In 1863 he passed the metropolitan examinations for the chin-shih degree. In the palace examination his emphasis upon current problems and his unconventional mode of writing were frowned upon by some examiners, but were praised by Pao-yün (see under Wên-hsiang). When the papers were submitted to the Dowager Empresses for final judgment, Chang Chih-tung was ranked as t'an-hua 探花, or third in the first group of three, and was made a compiler of the Hanlin Academy.

From 1867 to 1877 Chang Chih-tung held various posts in connection with the civil service examinations in Chekiang, Hupeh and Szechwan. His zeal for the promotion of scholarship while filling these posts is well illustrated by his activities as director of education in Szechwan (1873–77). There he rectified abuses in the examinations; founded in Chengtu the Academy, Tsun-ching Shu-yüan 尊經書院; and set up a printing office for issuing the classics and the dynastic histories. For the students he wrote a handbook on study and composition, entitled 輶軒語 Yu-hsüan yü, 2 chüan, which was printed in 1878 together with an annotated bibliography of important Chinese works, known as the 書目答問 Shu-mu ta-wên, 4 chüan. Chang's preface to the latter work is dated 1875. This useful bibliography, probably compiled in collaboration with his disciple, Miao Ch'üan-sun 繆荃孫 (T. 炎之, 筱珊, H. 藝風, 1844–1919, chin-shih of 1876), received wide circulation and has been many times reprinted with supplements and revisions. In 1877 Chang Chih-tung completed his term of office in Szechwan and returned to Peking where he was engaged until 1881 as chief editor of the gazetteer of the Peking metropolitan area, entitled 順天府志 Shun-t'ien-fu chih, 130 + 1 chüan. The work was later completed under the chief editorship of Miao Ch'üan-sun and was printed in 1885. A revised edition appeared in 1889.

In 1879 Chang Chih-tung was promoted to be a tutor in the Imperial Academy. The memorable suicide of the censor, Wu K'o-tu [q. v.], gave him an opportunity to bring himself to the attention of the Empress Dowager by submitting an obsequious memorial in criticism of Wu's act, dressed out with all the brilliant display of scholarship for which he became famous. The Sino-Russian dispute over Ili which came to a head also in 1879 served still more to advance Chang's career. In January 1880 the court called upon metropolitan officials to discuss the treaty in which Ch'ung-hou [q. v.], the Chinese envoy, had given Russia a large indemnity, about two-thirds of the territory in dispute, and various economic and strategic advantages. Chang submitted a strong memorial in which he called for the repudiation of the treaty and the execution of Ch'ung-hou. He took an optimistic view of China's military strength and urged that it would be better to fight forthwith on China's distant frontiers than to show weakness and later have to defend the capital itself. Largely in consequence of this memorial Ch'ung-hou was handed over to the Board of Punishments and Tsêng Chi-tsê [q. v.] was made envoy to Russia to negotiate a new settlement. The more favorable terms of February 1881 were due more to the policy of the moderate group headed by Li Hung-chang [q. v.] than to the war party of which Chang was the voice. Nevertheless Chang emerged from the Ili affair with greatly enhanced prestige and received a series of promotions which culminated in his appointment, early in 1882, as governor of Shansi.

Chang found that province in an unhappy state because of famine and widespread corruption in the official service. He punished the principal offenders, and supported a number of reconstruction measures such as cancellation of delinquent taxes, encouragement of the local iron industry, and patronage for schools and scholars. He initiated a project for colonizing Inner Mongolia. He also tried to check the cultivation of the opium poppy and enjoined scholars and officials to give up the habit. However, many of his elaborate reform schemes failed in effect because of his promotion in 1884 to the governor-generalship of Kwangtung and Kwangsi. Chang had already shown great concern over the extension of French influence in Annam. In 1882 he had memorialized with characteristic bellicosity, recommending military action to maintain China's suzerainty there. When he proceeded to Canton in 1884 the chief problem which confronted him was the Annamese situation, which had now become critical (see under Ts'ên Yü-ying). His strategy was to make use of Liu Yung-fu (see under Fêng Tzŭ-ts'ai) and his "Black Flags", and to take the offensive against the French in Annam in the hope of drawing them off from an attack on Formosa. Chang worked heroically to raise supplies and to finance the campaign; and to these exertions he owed escape from serious punishment when some of his protégés proved incompetent. Discussions looking toward peace began early in 1885, but on March 29 Fêng Tzŭ-ts'ai, whom Chang had recommended, led the Chinese troops to a surprise victory at Langson (諒山 Liang-shan) for which Chang claimed and received a due share of the credit. But the battle of Langson did not affect the peace terms. These terms harked back to the Li-Fournier convention (1884), by which China renounced her overlordship in Annam. Chang, eager to push China's last-minute military advantage—and never predisposed to favor any arrangements in which Li Hung-chang had a hand—repeatedly memorialized against the settlement, but was finally rebuked by the throne.

During his six years as governor-general of Kwangtung and Kwangsi Chang Chih-tung was full of plans and projects, even if the fulfillment sometimes fell short of the intention. He turned his salary and perquisites back to the treasury, and attempted to reform the tax-collecting system in his provinces. The accruing funds he expended on a wide range of enterprises. In 1887 he established an arsenal which first manufactured shells and later small firearms. He added a number of warships to the flotilla which patrolled the coast of Kwangtung, and established (1887) a school for the training of military and naval officers. He also gathered as secretaries several young men who had been abroad, among them Ku T'ang-shêng 辜湯生 (T. 鴻銘, H. 漢濱讀易者, 1857–1928) who in later years was generally known by his tzŭ, Ku Hung-ming. In 1889 Chang opened in Canton the first modern mint in China. He set up in 1887 the Academy, Kuang-ya shu-yüan 廣雅書院, which rivaled in scholarship the famous Hsüeh-hai T'ang (see under Juan Yüan). He began in 1886 to print books for the benefit of the local students, and in 1887 established the printing office, Kuang-ya Shu-chü (書局), with funds contributed by himself and several officials and merchants. Many scholars were engaged as editors or collators for this press which published over a period of about twenty years some 176 items, mostly composed by authors of the Ch'ing period. With the exception of seven items, all these works were collected and reprinted in 1920 under the title, Kuang-ya shu-chü ts'ung-shu (叢書) or simply Kuang-ya ts'ung-shu. A part of this collectanea, comprising works on history, was reprinted lithographically in Shanghai in 1902 under the title, 史學叢書 Shih-hsüeh ts'ung-shu. So spectacular were the achievements of the Academy and the Printing Office that Chang Chih-tung was often called Chang Kuang-ya in reference to his connection with these establishments. The people of the provinces were impressed by his energetic and honest administration, but a treasury deficit was generally expected as a result of his apparent extravagance. However, when his successor, Li Han-chang (see under Li Hung-chang), took over the office of governor-general at Canton (1859) he was surprised to find the treasury in much better condition than it was six years earlier when Chang took office. At this time the political strife in Peking between the so-called Northern and Southern factions became acute. Wêng T'ung-ho [q. v.], head of the Southern Party, was then in control of the Board of Revenue and Actively opposed Chang who was a Northern man. Indeed many of Chang's pet projects would have been vetoed by Wêng, the national treasurer, if Prince Ch'un (see under I-huan) had not intervened. But having left at Canton a sound treasury and a legacy of important reforms, Chang retrieved for his northern compatriots some of the prestige that had been lost by Chang P'ei-lun [q. v.].

In 1889 Chang Chih-tung was transferred from Canton to Wuchang as governor-general of Hupeh and Hunan—an outcome of his own project for building the Peking-Hankow Railway. Railroad construction began in Chihli under Li Hung-chang, and in 1888 it was proposed to extend the existing line from Tientsin to Tungchow. Many censors and officials vigorously opposed the extension of this railroad on the ground that it would favor invaders, arouse the villagers to riot, and rob many couriers of their livelihood. When the provincial officials were asked to express their opinion, Chang Chih-tung memorialized in favor of the construction of trunk lines in the interior. In his memorial Chang cleverly used the very arguments of the censors who had opposed the Tientsin-Tungchow Railway. Conceding their objections, he proposed the construction of a great interior railroad from Lu-kou-ch'iao 蘆溝橋, southwest of Peking, to Hankow, and listed strategic and economic advantages which the conservative censors could not refute. His memorial being approved, he was named in August, 1889, governor-general of Hupeh and Hunan to carry out the scheme. It was estimated that the railway would cost thirty million dollars and the national treasury was to put aside two million dollars for that purpose. But in 1890, owing to the Sino-Japanese tension over Korea, this fund was used to finance the extension eastward of the Tientsin-Tangshan Railway. Thus the plan of the Lu-kou-ch'iao-Hankow Railway was temporarily shelved (see below).

Chang Chih-tung was as interested in the industrial development of China as he was in railway construction. His term as governor-general of Wuchang which lasted some eighteen years, except for two brief periods as acting governor-general at Nanking, was marked by ambitious plans and by considerable achievements in the economic realm. One of the chief enterprises with which his name is associated is the Han-Yeh-P'ing 漢冶萍 iron and steel works. Before he left Canton he ordered the machinery for an iron foundry and began operations at Hanyang in 1890 soon after he reached Wuchang. In 1894 the iron mine at Tayeh was opened in co-operation with the Hanyang foundry. Two years later, owing to shortage of funds, the ironworks were sold to stockholders and transferred to the management of Shêng Hsüan-huai 盛宣懷 (T. 杏蓀, 1849–1916), the great industrialist. In 1908 the coal mine at P'ing-hsiang, Kiangsi, was merged with the ironworks into the Han-Yeh-P'ing Company. Thus, owing to lack of funds, Chang had to abandon hope of active management of the foundry which he started. Among his other enterprises were cotton mills, silk factories, and tanneries. He also directed an elaborate program of dyke construction to give employment in preference to other types of relief. Many of his industrial enterprises were riddled with graft and were conducted at a loss, but it is largely to his great initiative that the Wu-Han cities owe their subsequent position as the "Chicago" of China. His other innovations were similar to those he had initiated at Canton. He founded a mint, and formed the nucleus of a modern military force drilled by German instructors. He sponsored the formation of a considerable number of schools of all grades (see under Huang Shao-chi) and sent students abroad—especially to Japan whose westernization had taken place a few decades earlier. As in Canton his expenditures on new-fangled enterprises brought frequent accusations of extravagance and waste, but his financial reforms raised the annual income of Hupeh from about seven million taels in 1889 to fifteen million when he left Wuchang in 1907.

During the Sino-Japanese war, when Liu K'un-i [q. v.] was commanding troops in the north, Chang was shifted to Nanking (November 1894 to February 1896) as acting governor-general. There he demonstrated his energy in an effort to improve the defenses and to forward supplies and recruits to the north. Opposed to Li Hung-chang's peace negotiations, he urged war to the bitter end. After the conclusion of peace he again pressed for the construction of the Lu-kou-ch'iao-Hankow Railway. When the project was approved he was ordered back to Wuchang (1896) to supervise its execution. But his efforts to sell stock to Chinese investors were unsuccessful, and late in 1896 the right to construct the railway with foreign capital was granted to a corporation headed by Shêng Hsüan-huai. In 1898 the section of the railway from Lu-kou-ch'iao to Paoting was completed, and in 1900 it was extended to Peking. In 1906 the entire line to Hankow was completed.

China's defeat at the hands of Japan (1894–95) aroused among the younger literati a strong interest in reform, and Chang Chih-tung was one of the older officials who were in a sense patrons of this movement. By 1898 the scramble of foreign powers for concessions thoroughly alarmed many scholars, and Emperor Tê-tsung, relying on the advice of K'ang Yu-wei (see under T'an Ssŭ-t'ung), entered on the "Hundred Days Reform". At the outset Chang's attitude was sympathetic, and he recommended to the throne many young liberals, including Liang Ch'i-ch'ao (see under T'an Ssŭ-t'ung). In the midst of the reforms Chang issued the celebrated 勸學篇 Ch'üan-hsüeh p'ien, or "Exhortation to Study", 2 chüan, printed in 1898. The reformers immediately seized on it as a sort of party platform and the emperor ordered its distribution to all officials and students. However, the real purpose of the essay was to advocate a program of gradual modification based on education rather than the rapid change which the emperor and K'ang Yu-wei were attempting. Its purport was that the road to the salvation of China lay through the revival of Confucianism and the adoption of Occidental mechanical methods and devices, but not its philosophy. The work is full of expressions of loyalty to the dynasty and condemnation of a corrupt officialdom as the curse of China. On September 21, 1898 came the famous coup d'état which brought the Empress Dowager back to power. Chang telegraphed the Empress urging the punishment of the reformers, despite the fact that he had associated personally with many of them. He refused, moreover, to join Liu K'un-i in memorializing against the threatened deposition of the emperor. After 1898 Chang was suspected by the Court and hated by the reformers who thought him timid and treacherous. His final break with the latter came in August 1900. A number of the reformers gathered in Hankow and, under cover of the Boxer disturbance, secretly made preparations for an armed revolt to overthrow the Empress Dowager and to restore the Emperor to power. However, the plot was discovered by Chang Chih-tung who captured and executed the leader, T'ang Ts'ai-ch'ang 唐才常 (T. 伯平, H. 佛塵, 1867–1900), and nineteen of his accomplices.

The Boxer Uprising of 1900 was thus for Chang an acid test of his loyalty and political acumen. He was faithful to the Empress Dowager, and his position as viceroy called for obedience to the imperial commands, but he was also fully aware of the dangers of an anti-foreign crusade. Fortunately he and Liu K'un-i found a formula which brought them through the Boxer days with credit both in the eyes of the foreigners and of the Empress Dowager. Chang safe-guarded himself by sending troops north in response to orders from Peking, but these forces were untrained levies and his best troops he kept at home. He acted on the principle that the Boxer Uprising was a "rebellion" against the legitimate authority of the Empress Dowager, and that any edict from Peking ordering support of Boxerism or extermination of foreigners was the work of Prince Tuan (Tsai-i, see under I-tsung) and his associates who had virtually usurped the imperial authority. On June 27 the consular body at Shanghai was informed that Chang and Liu undertook to hold themselves responsible for the safety of foreign lives and property in the Yangtze region as long as the powers did not land troops there. This proposal, accepted in substance by the powers and adopted by other viceroys and governors, spelled safety for foreigners in the central and southern regions. It also served the Empress Dowager well, for the theory of "rebellion" which enabled the viceroys to keep peace in the Yangtze region and still consider themselves loyal also put them in a position to ask that the Empress Dowager not be held personally responsible for the Boxer episode.

After the Boxer Uprising Chang Chih-tung was in high favor at Court and was raised to the dignity of Junior Guardian of the Heir Apparent. In reply to an imperial edict of January 1901 calling for suggestions as to the most needed reforms, he and Liu K'un-i submitted three joint memorials. The first dealt with the establishment of modern schools, the modification of the civil service examination system, and the encouragement of students to study abroad. The second and third advocated civil and military reforms based on the pattern of Western countries. In October 1902, owing to the death of Liu K'un-i, Chang Chih-tung was again made acting governor-general at Nanking where he stayed for five months, devoting most of his time to educational matters. After an audience in Peking on this subject he was appointed a member of a committee to draft regulations for a nationwide school system. Recommendations were presented to the throne in January 1904. Although the accompanying memorial asserted that various kinds of school systems had been studied, the plan was obviously based on the Japanese model. In order to facilitate the growth of the new school system, Chang supported the abolition of the time-honored civil service examinations, which was finally decreed in 1905. In 1904, after Chang returned to Wuchang from Peking, he successfully opposed both the land tax plan of Sir Robert Hart (赫德, 1835–1911) and the gold exchange standard plan for currency of J. W. Jenks (精琪, 1856–1929). In 1906 he was active in the movement which resulted in the edict announcing that the sacrifices to Confucius should be placed on equality with those to Heaven and Earth. He also established in 1907 a school to study only the Chinese classics, history, and literature to balance the trend in the modern schools where these subjects were neglected. These acts were viewed by many as a final repudiation by Chang of his reforming zeal, but actually were entirely consistant with his lifelong emphasis on Confucianism as the heart of Chinese civilization.

In 1907 Chang's long career as a provincial official ended. He was called to the capital and made Grand Secretary and Grand Councillor. He was given special charge of supervising the new Ministry of Education. His last important post was as superintendent-general of the sadly confused affairs of the Canton-Hankow Railway. Complicated negotiations for the financing of the line led to an agreement in June 1909 between Chang and British, French and German capitalists, But the insistence of the United States that its bankers have a share in the loan re-opened the question, and at the time of Chang's death discussions were under way for a four-power agreement. The deaths of the emperor and the Empress Dowager in November 1908 and the subsequent dismissal by the Prince Regent of such able officials as Yüan Shih-k'ai (see under Yüan Chia-san) and Tuan-fang [q. v.] left Chang as the most eminent figure in the declining Manchu régime. However he was already exhausted by a long and strenuous career and died on October 4, 1909. He was canonized as Wên-hsiang 文襄.

Though an opportunist on occasion, Chang was in many respects an embodiment of the Confucian ideal in official life. He was benevolent toward his subordinates and to the populations under his charge. He was frugal and honest in financial matters, and died a poor man in a period of increasing official corruption. He was noted for his phenomenal memory, for his mastery of the Confucian classics, and for his brilliant literary style which could carry conviction even when the content was rather thin. In his effort to protect the Confucian core of Chinese life by an armor of occidental devices he often initiated projects the technical details and implications of which he knew little. But enough of his innovations took root to give real substance to his reputation as a pioneer in the modernization of Chinese economic life. In 1928 his collected papers were issued in 229 chüan, under the title 張文襄公全集 Chang Wên-hsiang kung ch'üan-chi. It contains, among other biographical material, a number of sketches of his life as scholar and statesman, entitled 抱氷堂弟子記 Pao-ping t'ang ti-tzŭ chi, so named after a hall, Pao-ping t'ang, erected in Wuchang by his subordinates after he left there in 1907. In his last days Chang himself used the hao, Pao-ping lao-jên (老人).

Chang Chih-tung's son, Chang Ch'üan 張權 (T. 君立, H. 聖可, 1859–1930), was a chin-shih of 1898 who served as a secretary in the Chinese Legation at Washington from 1904 to 1906.

[1/443/3a; 2/64/36b; 10/7/1a; 6/2/8b; 26/4/23a; Nan-p'i hsien chih (1932) 8/15a, 51a, 62b, 10/2a; 湖北通志 Hupeh t'ung-chih (1921) 54/1a–22b, 121/35a; 東方雜誌 Tung-fang tsa-chih, Sixth Year, nos. 10, 11; Bland, J. O. P., Li Hung-chang (1917) p. 191; Bland, J. O. P. and Backhouse, E., China Under the Empress Dowager (1910) pp. 140–41, 220, 504–05; Kann, E., The Currencies of China (1926), pp. 315–16, 388; Kent, P. H., Railway Enterprise in China (1907), pp. 32–34, 91–92, 120; Morse, H. B., The International Relations of the Chinese Empire (1910–1918) II, ch. XVI, III, p. 417; Steiger, G. N., China and the Occident (1927) pp. 246, 248; China's Only Hope (1900), translation by S. I. Woodbridge of the Ch'üan-hsüeh p'ien; Wagel, S., Chinese Currency and Banking (1915), pp. 55–57, 102–06; Yung Wing (see under Jung Hung), My Life in China and America (1909), pp. 225–26; Great Britain, Parliamentary Papers, China No. 1 (1899), China No. 3 (1900), China No. 1 (1901), passim; United States Foreign Relations, 1905, pp. 124–35, 1909, pp. 167–72; North-China Herald, Nov. 22, 1895; The Times, Oct. 6, 1909.]

Meribeth Cameron