Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Sun Shih-i

SUN Shih-i 孫士毅 (T. 智冶, H. 補山), 1720–1796, July 25, official, was a native of Jên-ho (Hangchow). His family was poor and he endured great hardships in his youth. For more than twenty years he competed in provincial examinations without success, but finally became a chü-jên in 1759 and a chin-shih two years later. While awaiting appointment he took a special examination at Hangchow in the spring of 1762 when Emperor Kao-tsung made his third tour of the Yangtze Valley. Sun passed with first honors and was appointed a secretary in the Grand Secretariat. He was then already forty-three sui. Selected to accompany Fu-hêng [q. v.] to Yunnan in 1769 in the war against the Burmese, he did his secretarial work so well that on his return to Peking a year later he was made a department director in the Board of Revenue. In the same year (1770) he was sent to Hunan to supervise the provincial examinations and then served as director of education of Kweichow (1770–74). After several promotions he was, in 1775, appointed financial commissioner of Yunnan. Four years later, just after being promoted to the governorship of Yunnan, he was discharged for not reporting the corrupt practices of Li Shih-yao [q. v.]. Though the charges against Li savored of collusion, Sun was nevertheless sentenced to banishment to Ili—a fate from which he was saved only by a special edict. The emperor, appreciating his literary abilities, appointed him one of the three chief compilers of the Imperial Manuscript Library, Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu (see under Chi Yün). At the same time he was reinstated in officialdom with the coveted rank of a compiler in the Hanlin Academy—an honor he had failed to attain after becoming a chin-shih. It seems that from then on he was closely associated with Ho-shên [q. v.] whose power was then in the ascendency.

In 1782, after completing his work as chief compiler, Sun was made financial commissioner of Shantung and a year later, governor of Kwangsi. Transferred to the governorship of Kwangtung in 1784, he was quick to call on the people to pay their taxes which had long been in arrears. In 1786, when Furgun 富勒渾 (d. 1795), governor-general of Kwangtung and Kwangsi, was charged with corruption, Sun was appointed acting governor-general and was entrusted with the conduct of the trial. Two of Furgun's servants had been found in posession of thousands of taels obtained illegally with their master's consent. During the trial Furgun rebuked and threatened Sun, but the latter was undaunted. When Sun reported the case in full, perhaps to Ho-shên's satisfaction, he was made governor-general of Kwangtung and Kwangsi. Late in 1786 the rebellion in Taiwan broke out (see under Ch'ai Ta-chi), and early in 1787 Sun made swift preparations of men and provisions and, when orders came to him to assist in the campaign against the rebels, he was ready. For his alertness he was given the honorary title of Grand Guardian of the Heir Apparent, the double-eyed peacock feather, and the hereditary rank of a third class Ch'ing-ch'ê tu-yü.

At this time Annam was torn by a civil war. In the last days of the Later Li 黎 Dynasty (1428–1789) there rose a powerful militarist, Juan Wên-yüeh 阮文岳 (Nguyên Văn-Nhạc, d. 1793), whose brother, Juan Wên-hui 阮文惠 (Nguyên Văn-Huệ, d. November 13, 1792), sent an army in 1787 to occupy Hanoi, the capital of Annam. Li Wei-ch'i 黎維祁, (Le Duy-Ki, original name 維謙, posthumous name 愍, d. 1793), the last king of the Li Dynasty, fled from the capital. In 1788 Li's family sought refuge with the authorities in Kwangsi. When Sun Shih-i and Sun Yung-ch'ing 孫永清 (T. 宏度, d. 1790), then governor of Kwangsi, reported the matter to Peking, they were ordered to give Li Wei-ch'i full protection. Li's family was quartered at Nanning, Kwangsi, while armed intervention was decided upon to restore him to his throne.

In command of the main army of ten thousand men, Sun Shih-i set out in November 1788 from the pass, Chên-nan kuan, Kwangsi, while two flanking armies advanced, one from Yunnan, by land, the other from Ch'in-chou, Kwangtung, by sea. As the people of northern Annam were loyal to the Li family, they assisted the Chinese armies in various ways. Sun Shih-i won several skirmishes and entered Hanoi on December 17, 1788, while Juan Wên-hui retreated southward without offering much resistance. Li Wei-ch'i came from his place of refuge and was restored to the throne. When a report of this victory reached Peking, Emperor Kao-tsung rewarded Sun Shih-i with the hereditary rank of a duke of the first class with the designation, Mou-yung (謀勇公). Sun's chief general, Hsü Shih-hêng 許世亭 (d. 1789, posthumous name 昭毅), was made a viscount. These rewards were made too hastily, however, for a few days after the edict reached Hanoi, Sun's expeditionary forces were routed by fresh recruits under Juan Wên-hui. The fighting began on January 27, 1789, the day after the Chinese New Year, and as Sun Shih-i was celebrating the holiday he was utterly unprepared. The next day he and a part of the eight thousand men under his command succeeded in fleeing northward, leaving behind more than half of his men (including Hsü Shih-hêng), all of whom lost their lives.

On receiving this report, Emperor Kao-tsung issued a conciliatory edict stating that Annam was a small and distant country afflicted with pestilences and that, moreover, the Li Dynasty was apparently fated by heaven to fall. Hsü Shih-hêng was raised posthumously to a third class earl with the designation Chuang-lieh (壯烈伯). Sun Shih-i, who was responsible for the defeat, was let off lightly, being merely deprived of his dukedom and his post as governor-general of Kwangtung and Kwangsi. He was ordered to assist Fu-k'ang-an [q. v.], the new governor-general, in bringing the war to a close, and then to return to Peking for another appointment. Early in March 1789 Juan Wên-hui, having altered his name to Juan Kuang-p'ing 阮光平, asked for pardon and for recognition of his country as a tributary state. The request was promptly granted and the war came to an end.

Juan Wên-hui was grateful, and in 1790 went to Peking personally to congratulate Emperor Kao-tsung on his eightieth birthday. In 1792 Juan's son, Juan Kuang-tsan 阮光纘 (Nguyên Quang-toản, b. 1783), succeeded to the throne but was captured in 1802 by Juan Fu-ying 阮福映 (or Juan Ying 阮映, Nguyên Phúc-Ánh, d. February 3, 1820). The latter, with the help of Siam, established a new dynasty and the name of his kingdom was changed to Yüeh-nan 越南. His descendants now occupy the throne under the protection of France. Li Wei-ch'i, having lost his kingdom (early in 1789), was content to have conferred on him the rank of an official of the third grade. Late in 1789 he and his relatives, numbering 167 men, came with their families to Peking and were incorporated as a new company in the Chinese Bordered Yellow Banner, with Li as captain. Other refugees from Annam were quartered at Nanking, Kalgan, Ili, and elsewhere. In 1804, eleven years after Li Wei-ch'i died, his body was sent back for interment in his own country. Other Annamese refugees were allowed to return as they pleased.

Soon after Sun Shih-i lost his post as governor-general, he was made president of the Board of War and concurrently a Grand Councilor. Late in 1789 he was appointed acting governor-general of Szechwan. After being raised to full rank in 1790, he was transferred to Nanking as governor-general of Kiangnan and Kiangsi. In 1791 he was made president of the Board of Civil Offices and concurrently an assistant Grand Secretary and then was sent back to Szechwan as governor-general of that province. Later he was given full responsibility for transporting and supplying the expeditionary forces of Fu-k'ang-an in the latter's fight against the Gurkas (see under Fu-k'ang-an). The success of the campaign was due in part to Sun who in 1792 proceeded to Lhasa to hasten the transport of supplies. After the war Sun was made a full Grand Secretary and was ordered to assist Fu-k'ang-an and Ho-lin [q. v.] in settling Tibetan affairs. For the next three years (1792-95) he resided for a time at Lhasa and later at Chengtu, Szechwan, writing up the expense account for the campaign against the Gurkas—a very costly campaign owing to the extravagance of the leader, Fu-k'ang-an. It seems that a complete statement of the account was never submitted.

From 1795 to 1796 Sun served again as governor-general of Szechwan—at a time when Miao tribesmen in Kweichow and Hunan, and religious sects in Szechwan and Hupeh, were in rebellion. Sun was kept busy fighting in southeastern Szechwan on the borders of Hupeh and Kweichow. For his victory over insurgents at Lai-fêng, Hupeh, he was made, in May 1796, a third class baron but two months later he died in Yu-yang, Szechwan. He was posthumously raised to a duke and was canonized as Wên-ching 文靖. His grandson, Sun Chün 孫均 (T. 古雲), was made an earl of the third class and a member of the Chinese Plain White Banner. Though a member of Ho-shên's clique, Sun Shih-i was not posthumously dishonored when that minister was punished in 1799. But when in 1806 Sun Chün requested, on a plea of lameness, that the family rank should pass to a cousin, Emperor Jên-tsung became very angry. He pointed out that Sun Shih-i had not deserved his reward, and so deprived Sun Chün of his rank and also of his status as bannerman.

Sun Shih-i was an able and diligent official and a good calligrapher. He was frugal, and certainly less corrupt than many high officials of his day. The chief point against him was his association with Ho-shên, but had he not placated that powerful minister he could not have exercised the moderating influences he did. He left a collection of verse, entitled 百一山房詩集 Pai-i shan-fang shih chi, 12 chüan, printed in 1816 by Sun Chün.


[1/336/5a; 1/532/1a–11b; 2/26/38b; 3/32/14a; 3/184/39b–44b; 3/187/23a; 3/356/8a; Hangchow fu-chih (1922) 129/10b; Chao-lien [q. v.], Hsiao-t'ing tsa-lu; Ch'ên Wên-shu [q. v.], I-tao t'ang ch'üan-chi (wên-ch'ao, 4/11a); Chengdu hsien-chih (1873) 6/忠義 11a; Bulletin de l'École Française d'Extrême-Orient 5 (1905) pp. 119, 129–31, 141–142; Maybon, Charles B., Histoire Moderne du Pays d'Annam (1919), pp. 183–224, 289–350, 374–79.]

Fang Chao-ying