|Born||11 Sep 1881|
|Died||16 Aug 1967|
ww2dbaseKong Xiangxi (Wadeâ€“Giles romanization: Kung Hsiang-hsi; sometimes seen in western literature as H. H. Kung), was born to Kong Fanci, a teacher, in Taigu County, Shanxi Province, China during the Qing Dynasty in 1881. He was a 75th-generation descendant of Confucius. His courtesy name was Kong Yongzhi; he was later known under the pseudonym of Kong Ziyuan. Until the age of 9, he studied under his father. In 1889, he contracted mumps; after Chinese traditional medicine failed to cure him, he was brought to a western doctor associated with western missionaries with much greater success, thus began his life long interest western societies. In 1890, he convinced his father, who had some reservations, to enroll him in an American missionary elementary school. In 1894, he enrolled in Luhe Academy in Tongzhou, Hebei Province, China (now a district of Beijing), which was run by American missionaries. In 1900, during the violent uprising of the anti-western imperialism Yihetuan Movement (also unofficially known in the west as "Boxer Rebellion"), he returned home to Taigu for personal safety due to his family's association with westerners. When Yihetuan members in Shanxi threatened the lives of Christians, he and his family successfully hid several Christians in their home. After western armies put down the uprising by force, he continued to aid the westerners by distributing relief to survivors, burying the dead, and helping to confiscate the estate of a prominent family which had publicly supported the uprising. In 1901, he traveled to San Francisco, California, United States for studies at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, United States; the Chinese Exclusion Act caused him to be interned upon arrival, thus he did not begin his studies until 1902. He graduated from Oberlin with a degree in mineralogy in 1906, and began his studies at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, United States, ultimately earning a master's degree in mineralogy before returning to China in 1907. With the support of missionaries in Shanxi, he helped to establish the Mingxian Academy, serving as its principal; the academy's teachers were all missionaries. In 1910, he married Han Yumei, but she would pass away from tuberculosis in 1913. During the 1911 revolution, he organized Taigu County's businesses and his own students to form militia units to maintain order, which gained the attention of Yan Xishan, a Qing officer who fought on the side of the revoluionaries. Upon the fall of Qing Dynasty and Yuan Shikai's rise to power, Yan was named the military governor of Shanxi Province, and Kong was made one of Yan's militia chiefs. He would hold that position until 1912, but he remained a close associate of Yan's for decades to come, and was credited with his suggestions for Yan to successfully modernize Shanxi Province. While he was still serving as an educator, in 1912, he obtained exclusive rights to distribute Shell diesel fuel in Shanxi, thus beginning to earn his fortune. In 1913, he was invited to Japan to serve as the director of the Chinese Christian Youth Association in that country. During this time, he also worked for Dr. Sun Yatsen's republican organizations in Japan, and through this position that he met Sun's secretary Song Ailing (Wadeâ€“Giles: Soong Ai-ling), the eldest of three daughters of the wealthy businessman "Charlie" Song Yaoru (Wadeâ€“Giles: Soong Yao-ju). Kong and Song married in Japan in 1914; they would have two sons and two daughters together. Song's sister Song Qingling (Wadeâ€“Giles: Soong Ching-ling) married Sun Yatsen shortly, thus strengthening his association to the leader and visionary of the revolution. In 1915, Kong and Song returned to Shangxi Province, where Kong continued his ventures in education and commerce; he also served as Yan's advisor on several occasions. During the 1922 Shanxi famine, he worked closely with American Red Cross programs to bring supplies into the province. In 1923, as a representative for Sun Yatsen, he attended a meeting of Chinese and Soviet officials in the city of Fengtian in northeastern China (now Shenyang, Liaoning Province). In 1926, he received a honorary doctorate degree from Oberlin College.
ww2dbaseIn late 1926, Kong entered national politics, starting with the Guangdong provincial finance minister. In Apr 1927, Nationalist Chairman Chiang Kaishek conducted a bloody purge of communists; afterwards, Kong assisted Chiang in regaining the trust of Shanghai-based industrialists. In Dec 1927, Chiang married Song Meiling (Wadeâ€“Giles: Soong May-ling), who was Song Ailing's youngest sister, thus making Chiang his brother-in-law. In the same year, 1927, he was made the Minister of Industry for the Wang Jinwei-controlled government based in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. After Wang's fall, he rejoined Chiang in the Nationalist capital of Nanjing, China as the Minister of Industry and Commerce in Mar 1928; this position was renamed Minister of Industry in 1931. In 1931, he was made a member of the central executive committee of the Nationalist Party. In the same year, he persuaded Chiang Kaishek to restore Yan Xishan, who had been removed from power due to the opposition of Chiang during the 1930 Central Plains War, as the governor of Shanxi Province; Chiang would officially recognize Yan's power over Shanxi in 1934. In Sep 1931, Hu Hanmin criticized Chiang for being anti-democratic by holding both head of the Executive Yuan (ie. head of government) and chairman (ie. head of state) positions. Chiang responded by placing Hu under house arrest, which quickly turned against Chiang's popularity (18 Sep 1931 Incident). Chiang resigned his position as the chairman of the nation as a result, and Kong also resigned his ministerial position in support of Chiang. In 1932, by orders of Chiang, he embarked on a diplomatic tour of Europe and the United States; during this tour, he secretly negotiated arms deals with Germany and Italy. Between Apr 1933 and Jul 1945, he was the President of the Central Bank of China. Between Nov 1933 and Nov 1944, he was the Minister of Finance, succeeding his brother-in-law Song Ziwen, who had disappointed Chiang by his pessimistic view of the government's ability to control the national deficit. As the Minister of Finance, Kong reformed tax laws, asserted more direct control over provincial matters, alleviated tax burdens on the poorest populations, and increased government control of the financial markets. In 1935, he announced the nationalization of the Bank of China and the Bank of Communications. He also demanded Song Ziwen to become the Chairman of the Board and General Manager of the Bank of China, but ultimately Song would only assume the position of Chairman of the Board. This action was done after the two banks opposed him in his attempt to issue additional government debt necessitated after the United States went on the Silver Standard. In Nov 1935, per Kong's policy, the printing of official Republic of China money was restricted to the Central Bank, the Bank of China, and the Bank of Communications. Between Jul and Aug 1935, again between Nov and Dec 1935, and once more between Dec 1936 and Apr 1937, he served as the acting head of the Executive Yuan.
ww2dbaseIn mid-1937, Kong traveled to Germany to meet with Adolf Hitler and other top German officials. At the time, China and Germany enjoyed a close diplomatic relationship, and Kong had wished to persuade Germany to halt its expanding friendship with Japan, which had been violating Chinese sovereignty since 1932. Kong was able to secure Hitler's pledge that Germany would increase its industrial investment in China, while Kong pledged to increase the export of raw materials to Germany. On the same trip to the western hemisphere, he also attended the coronation of King George VI of the United Kingdom, and visited Franklin Roosevelt of the United States and Benito Mussolini of Italy. In Jan 1938, he was made the Premier of the Republic of China, as the head of the Executive Yuan, as the nation plunged into war; he served as Premier until Dec 1939 while concurrently holding his position as the Minister of Finance. As he stepped down, he was made the deputy head of the Executive Yuan, again still concurrently holding his finance position. In 1944, he served as the chief delegate to the International Monetary & Financial Conference, in which role he signed the Bretton Woods Accord during the Bretton Woods Conference at the Mount Washington Hotel, in New Hampshire, United States. While in the United States, he, as a descendant of Confucius, gave a speech at the China House in New York, New York, United States alongside of Meng Zhi, a descendant of Mencius. Between 1944 and 1948, he was the Chairman of the Board of the Bank of China. Toward the end of the war, as Allied victory seemed more assured, financial leaders previously aligned with the government, and thus Kong, in the war against Japan began to criticize Kong for Kong's conflict of interest between his public post and his private businesses. In 1944, during a major national political conference, respected member of the intelligentsia Fu Sinian publicly accused Kong of corruption and fraud when working with loans from the United States. This accusation led to his resignation as the Minister of Finance in Nov 1944. In May 1945, he resigned as the deputy head of the Executive Yuan, followed by his position as the President of the Central Bank.
ww2dbaseAfter the end of WW2, Kong departed from politics and emigrated to the United States. In 1948, he resigned as the Chairman of the Board of the Bank of China. In 1962, he briefly resided in Taiwan, but he ultimately would return to the US. He passed away from heart disease in Locust Valley, New York in 1967. Chiang Kaishek, now the President of the Republic of China (relocated to Taiwan since 1949), sent a delegation led by First Lady Song Meiling and his son General Chiang Wei-kuo to attend Kong's funeral. He was interned at Ferncliff Cemetery in Greenburgh, New York.
Last Major Revision: Nov 2020
Kong Xiangxi Interactive Map
Kong Xiangxi Timeline
|11 Sep 1881Â||Kong Xiangxi was born in Taigu County, Shanxi Province, Qing Dynasty China.|
|6 Apr 1933Â||Kong Xiangxi was made the President of the Central Bank of China.|
|1 Nov 1933Â||Kong Xiangxi was made the Minister of Finance.|
|23 Mar 1935Â||Kong Xiangxi announced the nationalization of the Bank of China and the Bank of Communications. He also demanded his brother-in-law and former Minister of Finance Song Ziwen to become the Chairman of the Board and General Manager of the Bank of China, but ultimately Song would only assume the position of Chairman of the Board.|
|3 Jun 1935Â||In Shanghai, China, Kong Xiangxi announced that the currency of the Republic of China was to be printed by the Central Bank, Bank of China, and the Bank of Communications as of 4 Nov 1935. Any private institutions holding silver coins and silver ore were to exchange them with those three banks beginning on that date.|
|2 Jul 1935Â||Kong Xiangxi was made the acting head of the Executive Yuan.|
|23 Aug 1935Â||Kong Xiangxi stepped down as the acting head of the Executive Yuan.|
|4 Nov 1935Â||Kong Xiangxi gave a public speech to ease the public on the government policies coming in effect on this date regarding currency printing and the Silver Standard.|
|6 Nov 1935Â||Kong Xiangxi was made the acting head of the Executive Yuan.|
|7 Dec 1935Â||Kong Xiangxi stepped down as the acting head of the Executive Yuan.|
|13 Dec 1936Â||Kong Xiangxi was made the acting head of the Executive Yuan.|
|4 Apr 1937Â||Kong Xiangxi stepped down as the acting head of the Executive Yuan.|
|13 Jun 1937Â||Chinese Minister of Finance Kong Xiangxi (Wade-Giles: Kung Hsiang-hsi; alternate: H. H. Kung) met with Adolf Hitler at Berghof, Berchtesgaden, Germany. Kong persuaded Hitler to place more distance between Germany and Japan, while Hitler offered Kong German industrial investment in China and a loan (the latter of which was rejected).|
|1 Jan 1938Â||Kong Kiangxi made made the Premier of China as the head of the Executive Yuan.|
|11 Dec 1939Â||Kong Xiangxi stepped down as the Premier of China, and was made the Vice Premier of China as the deputy head of the Executive Yuan.|
|4 Jun 1945Â||Kong Xiangxi stepped down as the Vice Premier of the Executive Yuan of China.|
|16 Aug 1967Â||Kong Xiangxi passed away from heart disease in Locust Valley, New York, United States.|
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