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Chow Wan Pung


1919 CEM Reunion (LaFargue Collection).

Pinyin & Chinese characters Zhou Wanpeng 周万鹏

Variant Spellings & Other Names

Chow Van Pang
Chow Wan Pang
Chow Wan-pang

Other Chinese Name(s) Zhou Yiyun 周翼雲
Nickname: "Yang Guifei" 杨贵妃1
Detachment 3

LaFargue No. 69

Date of Birth November, 1864
Place of Birth Baoshan, Jiangsu

Age at Departure for US 11 (Lunar Calendar)

Date of Death January, 1928
Place of Death Shanghai

Place(s) of Residence in US

Holyoke, MA

American Host Family/ies Berijah H. & Mary D. Kagwin2

School(s), with dates

Holyoke High School, graduated 1881.  In June 1881 Chow was assigned to a group of 25 CEM students ordered by Li Hung Chang to study telegraphy preparatory to their return to China.3

Notable Activities/Awards in School  
College/University, with dates Did not attend college; returned to China with first group of returnees (arrived Shanghai 22 September 1881).4
Notable Activities/Awards in College  
Degree/Diploma Obtained (date)  
First Assignment in China Trained at Tianjin Telegraphy College (Tianjin Dianbao Xuetang) 天津电报学堂.5
Later Positions

1882: Joined first batch of graduates at Qingjiang 清江 and Hankou 汉口 Telegraph Bureaus;

1884: Transferred to Shanghai Telegraph Bureau where Chow served for over 20 years;

1894: Sent on study tour of Japan’s telephone system; with assistance of a Japanese technician established telephone service in Guangdong; tasked with setting up telephone operation in Shanghai;

1900: Responsible for directing reconstruction of telegraph system in Tianjin and Capital region damaged during the Boxer troubles; simultaneously created emergency line for use by government in exile at Xi’an 西安;

1905: Manager, Shanghai office of Chinese Telegraph Administration, replacing Chu Pao-fay (Zhu Baokui 朱宝奎 III, 65).

1907: During tenure at Shanghai Telegraphy Bureau negotiated with Germany and Great Britain on contracts to build Qinghai-Shanghai undersea cable 青沪水线 and Jiao-Ji Railway Line Relay 胶济铁路转报 in Shantung Province 山東; restrained German attempt to build telegraph lines;

1907 Fall: summoned to Beijing to help Viceroy Yuan Shikai in negotiations with the Japanese and the Russians regarding matters in Manchuria (North China Herald, 1907.11.8, p. 371);

1908: China’s representative to International Telegraph Convention in Lisbon, Portugal (4 May - 11 June 1908), on telegraph service (first delegate from China to attend an international telegraphic conference); made study tour of European countries, later compiling book Wanguo Dianbao Tongli《万国电报通例》 (“International Protocols of Telegraphy”);

1909 or 1910: Promoted to Director General of Imperial Telegraph Administration 中国电报总局(后改为电政局)总办, while concurrently Director General of Shanghai Telegraph Bureau; replaced antiquated transmitters (Morse system) with faster up-to-date Wheatstone machines.

During Republican period, Chow was concurrently Chief of Telegraph Services and of Postal Services in the Ministry of Communications 交通部邮传司司长兼邮政总局局长 as well as active in various provincial and regional telegraph and telephone bureaus; served as Acting Director General of Shanghai-Nanking Railway and Shanghai-Hangchow-Ningpo Railway lines; and was Supervisor of Shanghai Telegraph College 上海电报传习所.

1927: Retired, after 46 years in telegraph service, half of which were served in Shanghai.

Employment Sector(s) Telegraph/Telephone service

Final Rank, if in Gov't Service Qing era: Intendant of Circuit 候选道 (4th Rank Mandarin);
Republican era: Director Generalship of various bureaus.
Father's Name  
Mother's Name  
Family Relations w/ other CEM Students  
Children's Names  
Descendants David Chen, great-grandson.


1906: Served on the Chinese Committee of the Tien Tsu Hui ("Natural Feet Society") which campaigned against the foot-binding of Chinese women (North China Herald, 1906.11.23, p. 429.)

In 1908, on his return from the International Telegraph Convention, Chow, then Vice-Director of the Imperial Telegraph Administration, visited Holyoke, MA, where one of his sons was living with the Kagwin family while attending Holyoke High School.  The Springfield Republican, in its issue of Sunday, 19 July 1908, reported: “…Back in the 70s the Chinese government sent over a large number of youths of the highest social standing, under the auspices of Yung Wing, a graduate of Yale, and a man of advanced ideas.  The young Chinamen were at first placed under private tuition and later in the public schools, and the results of American education were awaited with keen interest.  Chow Wan Pang and another youth [Yuen Chan Kwon (Yuan Changkun 袁长坤 III, 81)] were located at B. H. Kagwin’s home on Beech street, and the vice-director's son is now a high-school student living with the same family. Those who recall the Chinese students of the late 70s state that they learned with preternatural ease, quickly adopted American standards of dress, and were enthusiastic in our sports.…In 1881 a conservative representative of the Chinese government visited the boys to ascertain their progress, and was horrified to find them practically Americanized.  Their instant recall followed, but Chow and his comrade Yuen were given diplomas by the school committee though they were unable to graduate with the class of 1881….Mr Chow assisted in negotiating the Chino-Germaine [sic] treaty and was honored with a decoration by the German emperor, as well as by the rulers of Holland and Belgium.  He was one of the committee that entertained Secretary Taft at the Chinese capital, and is his enthusiastic admirer.”6

Notes and Sources

1. Kao (1986), 94; Qian & Hu (2003), 81; Qian & Hu (2004), 93.

2. Rhoads (2011), p. 53, Table 5.1; p. 141, Table 9.2 (June 1880 Census).

3. Holyoke H.S.: Rhoads (2011), p. 98, Table 7.2.  Telegraphy students: Rhoads (2011), p. 174.

4. First group of returnees: Rhoads (2011), p. 193, Table 11.1; date of arrival at Shanghai: p. 180.

5. Tianjin Telegraphy College: Rhoads (2011), p. 197.

6. "Holyoke's Lively Corpse," Springfield Sunday Republican, 19 July 1908, p. 16.  Source courtesy Reed Tang.  As Secretary of War under U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft (1857-1930) led a special tour of Japan, China and the Philippines in the summer of 1905, but did not actually visit Beijing.

Most of the data on Chow’s post-CEM career is based on Chinese sources published on Internet: www.shtong.gov.cn and www.historychina.net. Research and English translations courtesy Bruce Chan.