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Won Bing Chung


1. Circa 1880, Ct. Hist. Soc.? 2. In Mandarin summer dress 3. 1936 CEM Reunion, LaFargue Collection


Pinyin & Chinese characters Wen Bingzhong 温秉忠

Variant Spellings & Other Names B. C. Won
Wan Ping Chung1
Wen Bing Chung
American nickname: "B.C. 1"2

Other Chinese Name(s) Wen Jinchen 温藎臣

Detachment 2

LaFargue No. 36

Date of Birth 31 January 18623
Place of Origin Xinning (Taishan), Guangdong

Age at Departure for US 12 (Lunar Calendar)

Date of Death 19 January 19383
Place of Death Shanghai

Place(s) of Residence in US (1) Amherst, MA
(2) Northampton, MA

American Host Family/ies (1) Rev. Thomas S. & Harriet Amelia (King) Potwin, Amherst, MA4
(2) Martha Ely Matthews, Northampton, MA5

School(s), with dates Natchaug High School, Willimantic, CT, ?-18806

Notable Activities/Awards in School In June 1878, Won Bing Chung participated in Natchaug High School's declamation contest by presenting a recitation of Charles Sumner's "The Progress of Humanity."6

College/University, with dates Worcester County Free Institute of Industrial Science (Modern “Worcester Polytechnic Institute”), Worcester, MA; half-year "apprentice class," 1880-81. (Reportedly failed in entrance exam for the regular program in summer, 1881.)  Won was the only CEM student to attend a public college.6
Notable Activities/Awards in College  
Degree/Diploma Obtained (date)  
First Assignment in China Worked in a cotton mill in Shanghai

Later Positions

ca. 1884-1904: Took service in US Consulate, Chinkiang (Zhenjiang 镇江), Jiangsu; and at Nanking7;

1905-06 Secretary and Advisor to Viceroy Duan Fang 端方 during the tour undertaken with four other senior officials (五大臣出洋), to study constitutional government in the United States, Germany and Russia;8

1906 Appointed by Viceroy Duan Fang the Vice-Director of the Liangkiang Bureau of Foreign Affairs and also Director of one of the important educational institutions recently started by the Viceroy ("Notes on Native Affairs - A Talented Official", North China Herald, Dec. 21, 1906, p. 688). The notice added this comment: "Taotai Wan Bing-chung is very well-known to foreigners and members of the Consular Body in the Yangtze ports, with whom he is most popular and liked for his affability and unfailing courtesy to all whom he meets.  With such a talented and experienced official in the Liangkiang Bureau of Foreign Affairs we may feel sure that foreign intercourse in that Viceroyalty will be conducted smoothly and in accordance with the best traditions."

1912 (in provisional government of the Republic) worked in Nanjing Foreign Affairs Bureau; due to Won's family connections with Sun Yat-sen, his career prospects also followed Sun's erratic political fortunes.

c. 1915 Worked as a comprador to a foreign company; also partnered with a Chinese to set up a printing shop business named 怡顺合记印刷所;

Deputy Customs Commissioner, Shanghai; head of Maritime Customs Administration, Beijing; Superintendent of Customs, Suzhou.

Employment Sector(s) Government

Final Rank, if in Gov't Service Qing era: 2nd Rank Mandarin Button, Daotai Expectant Appointee 二品顶戴侯选道台

Father's Name Wan Ching Kai 温清溪, 1834-1915
Mother's Name 溫甄氏 1838-1900

(1) Guan Yuet Ping (关月屏, 1865-1899), daughter of Kwan Yuen Cheong (关元昌)

(2) Ni Xiu Zhen (倪秀珍, 1882-early 1960's)

Family Relations w/ other CEM Students

Brother-in-law of Young Yew Huan (Rong Yaoyuan 容耀垣 III, 66; a.k.a. Rong Kai or Yung Hoy 容开) through the first marriage to Guan Yuet Ping.9

Brother-in-law of New Shan Chow (Niu Shangzhou 牛尚周 I, 12) through the second marriage to Ni Xiu Zhen.10

Children's Names 

Daughter (adopted) by Won Bing Chung and Guan Yuet Ping: Wen Hui Yu 温惠玉 (Hannah H. Lee, 1882-1974), wife of 李應柳 (叔青) Samuel Y. Lee / Li Shu-Ching

Son (adopted) by Guan Yuet Ping: Wan Wai-hing 温維慶 (1889-1907)

Daughter (adopted) by Ni Xiu Zhen: Kinmay Wen 温金美 (1902-1988), wife of Ping Yuan Tang 唐炳源

Son (adopted) by Won Bing Chung and Niu Xiu Zhen: Mathew Wen 溫澤慶 (1907-?)


3rd generation: 李骏恩 (Phillip Lee), 李静 (Grace Lee), 李诚 (Faith Lee);

3rd generation: 唐骥千 (Jack Chi Chien Tang), 唐骝千 (Oscar Liu-chien Tang), 唐志明 (Constance Tang), 唐驊千 (Victor Tang), 唐駿千, 唐志靜, 唐志雲


On Dec. 23, 1923, Won delivered a lecture to the students of Class D at the Customs College in Beijing on the subject "Reminiscence of a Pioneer Student".  Wen’s lecture was not the first account of the Mission in English by a former CEM student, but his memoir contains valuable details of the Chinese boys’ experiences of crossing the Pacific, traveling by rail to New England, and living and studying in America.  A typescript copy of the text of Wen's speech is held in the LaFargue Collection at Washington State University Library.

Won Bing Chung’s manuscript list of all 120 Chinese Educational Mission students, titled Zuixian Liumei Tongxue Lu 最先留美同學錄 with a preface dated September 1924, is a very valuable source of information on the places and years of birth for all the students and provides alternative names for many of them.  For some of the students Won’s list also supplies details about their careers subsequent to the CEM.  (See Wen Bingzhong under Mss. Chinese for full citation.) Two other CEM students, Young Shang Him (Rong Shangqian 容尚谦 I, 6) and Tong Yuen Chan (Tang Yuanzhan 唐元湛 II, 53), compiled similar lists that supply comparable information about the students.

According to the social historian Rev. Carl T. Smith, Won Bing Chung was born into a family that belonged to what he calls the “élite China coast Christian community”.  His father, Wen Qingxi (Wan Tsing-kai 溫清溪), a.k.a. Wen Jincong (Wan Kam-tseung 溫金聰), 1834-1915, a native of Taishan (modern Xinning) District, came to Hong Kong in 1854 where he was baptized ten years later.  Mingling with American missionaries there, he was enthusiastic in promoting missionary and educational activities in China.  Given his father’s strong Christian commitment, it is very likely that the eleven-year-old Bing Chung was already well-acquainted with Christianity when he joined the CEM’s 2nd Detachment.  Although there is no direct evidence for his personal religious views, they might be indicated by his two (consecutive) marriages to wives who both came from Christian families.11

In some popular accounts about the Soong family, Sung Jiashu 宋嘉树 (a.k.a. Yaoru 耀如), better known as “Charlie Soong” (1863-1918), first became friends  with Won Bing Chung and New Shan Chow (Niu Shangzhou 牛尚周 I,12) in America.  According to this story, they met Soong while the latter was working for his uncle in a silk and tea shop in Boston.  They are said to have encouraged him to gain an education in the U.S., which Soong accomplished with help from Americans who aided him in getting college seminary training to become a missionary to China.  The supposed meeting in Boston between the two CEM boys and Charlie Soong is undocumented and hard to verify.  Nevertheless, the connection with Soong was real and close: all three were brothers-in-law, having married the three daughters of Rev. Ni Yunshan 倪蘊山, a Protestant minister trained by London Missionary Society evangelists12: Won and New married, respectively, the third and the eldest of Rev. Ni's daughters, Nie Sieu-tseng (Ni Xiuzhen) 倪秀珍 and Nie Kwei-kyung (Ni Guijin) 倪桂金; while Soong married the second daughter, Nie Kwei-tseng (Ni Guizhen) 倪桂珍. 

In 1906, on a fund-raising mission in the U.S. for Dr. Sun Yat Sen, Won escorted his brother-in-law, Charlie Soong, to visit the Clara Barton Potwin School in Summit, New Jersey, where in the summer of 1907 Soong enrolled his two younger daughters, Soong Ching Ling (married Sun Yat Sen in 1915), and Soong May Ling (married Chiang Kai-shek in 1927).13

Notes and Sources

Biographical information on Won Bing Chung's family and descendants kindly provided by Roger Lee 李鸿捷, great-great grandson of Won Bing Chung.

1. Springfield Daily Republican, 26 July 1873, 3.

2. As in letter of Young Shang Him (Rong Shangqian 容尚谦 I, 6) to Woo Yang Tsang (Wu Yangzeng 吴仰曾 I, 3), dated 30 November 1936, enumerating the eleven who attended the reunion in Shanghai, 3 November 1936.  LaFargue (Pullman).

3. Birth and death dates as given in Wen family genealogical records (copy courtesy Dr. Yvonne Yung). Date of death independently recorded by Chung Mun Yew (Zhong Wenyao 钟文耀 I, 2) as 20 January 1938 (copy of manuscript note courtesy Bruce Chan); and in The New York Times, 21 January 1938, p. 19, as "today [Friday, Jan. 21]".

4. Edward J.M. Rhoads, email 1 November 2005; Rhoads (2011), Table 5.1, p. 52.

5. U. S. Census 1880.

6. Rhoads (2011), p. 97, Table 7.2 (Natchaug High School); p. 106 (recitation); pp. 119; 120 (Worcester Free Institute).

7. "Mr. Wan Ping-chung will be remembered as the popular Interpreter of the U.S. Consulate at Chinkiang, and afterwards at Nanking, from which he resigned last year, after twenty years' faithful service…." North China Herald, 4 Aug. 1905, p. 267, "Right Men in the Right Place."

8. Shi (2000), 256.  On Duanfang and the special overseas mission see: Arthur W. Hummel, ed., Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1944), Vol. II, p. 781.  Another CEM alumnus, Tong Yuen Chan (Tang Yuanzhan 唐元湛 II, 53) also accompanied the mission as Superintendent of the Imperial Chinese Telegraph Administration.

9. Information on Guan (Kwan) Yuet Ping, sister-in-law of Young Yew Huan (Rong Yaoyuan 容耀垣 III, 66), based on his grandson Richard Yung's family memoirs, To Our Grandchildren (Singapore: © Richard Yung, 2007), p. 20.

10. New (1984), 91.

11. Smith (1985), pp. 96-102.  Rev. Smith gives 1813 as Wen Qingxi’s year of birth, whereas genealogical records of the family of Wen Bing Chung’s first wife, Kwan Yuet Ping, provide the more likely date 1834.

12. New (1984), p. 84.

13. On the Soong sisters at Summit, NJ, see Robert A. Hageman, “The Soong Sisters, An Historical Footnote to a Noteworthy Family”, http://www.summitnjhistory.org/Historian_Soong.php