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T. V. Soong

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Soong Tse-vung, more commonly romanized as Soong Tse-ven or Soong Tzu-wen ( ; December 4, 1894 – April 25, 1971) was a prominent businessman and politician in the early-20th-century Republic of China. His father was Charlie Soong and his siblings were the Soong sisters. His Christian name was Paul, but he is generally known in English as T. V. Soong. As brother to the three Soong sisters, Soong's brothers-in-law were Dr. Sun Yat-sen, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, and financier H. H. Kung.

Early life and education

Born in Shanghai, T. V. Soong received his education at St. John's University in Shanghai before completing a bachelor's degree in economics from Harvard University in 1915. He worked at the International Banking Corporation in New York while pursuing graduate studies at Columbia University.


File:Wuhan government leaders.pngthumbleftSoong as a leader of Wuhan nationalist government.
File:T.V. Soong at Mosque in Xining Qinghai May 1934.pngthumbleftSoong at a mosque in Xining, Qinghai.
Upon returning to China he worked for several industrial enterprises, and was then recruited by Sun Yat-sen to develop finances for his Canton government. After the success of Chiang Kai-shek's Northern Expedition in 1927, Soong served in a succession of offices in the Nationalist Government,"Soong, T.V.," Boorman Vol 3, p. 149. including governor of the Central Bank of China (1928–1934) and minister of finance (1928–1933).
He founded the China Development Finance Corporation (CDFC) in 1934, along with other prominent financial figures, such as Chang Kia-ngau, Chen Guangpu and H.H. Kung. CDFC provided China's chief access to foreign investment for the next decade. In summer of 1940, Chiang appointed Soong to Washington as his personal representative. His task was to win support for China's war with Japan. Soong successfully negotiated substantial loans for this purpose. Also, while in Washington in 1940, Soong managed to prevail upon President Roosevelt and his administration to back the plan of then-retired U.S. Col. Claire Lee Chennault to firebomb Japanese cities with Boeing B-17 bombers painted with Chinese Air Force markings and flown by American pilots from airbases in China, before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. A scant month before the Pearl Harbor attack, the plan was scotched by U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall. After Pearl Harbor, Chiang appointed Soong Minister of Foreign Affairs, though Soong remained in Washington to manage the alliance with both the U.S. and the U.K.
During his tenure as Finance Minister, he managed to balance China's budget, no small accomplishment. He resigned in 1933, displeased with Chiang Kai-shek's appeasement of Japan and attempts to placate Japanese aggression. He later returned to service as Minister of Foreign Affairs (1942–1945), and as President of the Executive Yuan (1945–1947). Soong left his legacy as head of the Chinese delegation to the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco, April 1945, which later became the United Nations.
Soong was in charge of negotiating with the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin regarding Soviet interests in China, and traveled to Moscow to extract from Stalin a guarantee to oppose the Chinese Communist Party. Soong conceded to Stalin the Manchurian railways and Korean independence, but refused to allow Russian interference in Xinjiang or Russian military bases in Manchuria; he also indicated that China and the Soviet Union could share dominion over Mongolia if a "mutual assistance pact" was agreed to. Soong was known for his tough negotiating style with Stalin, getting straight to the point and freely using the threat of American military backing to strengthen his demands. When the Sino-Soviet treaty was signed, China ceded to Russia parts of Mongolia, use of a naval base at Port Arthur (with civilian rule remaining Chinese), and co-ownership of the Chinese Eastern Railway in Manchuria. In return, Soong extracted from Stalin recognition of the Republic of China as the legitimate regime of China, aid from the Soviets, and oral agreement to an eventual Soviet withdrawal from Manchuria. The treaty failed to end tension in China with the communists, resulting in renewed fighting in the Chinese Civil War. Stalin had previously told the Americans that President Roosevelt should inform Chiang Kai-shek of the Russian demands in Manchuria, at the Yalta Conference, before Stalin informed Soong.
During the war years, he financed the "Flying Tigers"—the American Mercenary Group that was later incorporated into the United States Air Force. Gen. Claire Chennault was listed as an employee of Bank of China. On this project he worked very closely with his sister, Madame Chiang Kai-shek (May-ling Soong). He once remarked to John Paton Davies, Jr., one of the China Hands, that there were no U.S. State Department memos sent from China that he did not have access to within a few days.John P. Davies, Dragon by the Tail, p.266.


After the defeat of the Nationalists in the Chinese Civil War, Soong moved to New York and remained an influential member of the China Lobby. On April 25, 1971, Soong choked to death in San Francisco at a dinner party hosted by the chairman of the San Francisco branch of the Bank of Canton, when a piece of chicken lodged in his windpipe. "Soong Choked to Death on Food, Coroner Says", Los Angeles Times, April 27, 1971, p28 Soong was survived by his widow, Lo-Yi Chang (張樂怡 Zhāng Lèyí), who had taken on the American name of Laura Chang Soong.

See also

  • History of the Republic of China
  • ;Notes

  • External links

    • T.V. Soong Papers at the Hoover Institution Archives

    Category:1891 births
    Category:1971 deaths
    Category:Bank of China people
    Category:Burials at Ferncliff Cemetery
    Category:Chinese Methodists
    Category:Chinese people of World War II
    Category:Columbia University alumni
    Category:Foreign Ministers of the Republic of China
    Category:Harvard University alumni
    Category:Republic of China politicians from Shanghai
    Category:Premiers of the Republic of China
    Category:Finance Ministers of the Republic of China
    Category:St. John's University, Shanghai alumni
    Category:Republic of China (1912–1949)
    Category:Governors of the Central Bank of the Republic of China
    Category:Chinese anti-communists

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