Wellington Koo file photo [25752]

Wellington Koo

Given NameVi Kyuin
Born29 Jan 1888
Died14 Nov 1985


ww2dbaseVi Kyuin "Wellington" Koo, also known as Koo Vi Kyuin (Shanghainese), Gu Weijun (Pinyin), or Ku Wei-chun (Wade-Giles), was born in Jiading County, Jiangsu Province, Qing Dynasty China in 1887. He was instructed privately until 1899 when he entered Saint John's University in Shanghai, China. In 1904, he studied at Keuka College in Keuka Park, New York, United States. Between 1905 and 1912, he attended Columbia College in New York, New York, receiving bachelor's degree in literature, master's degree (1909; political science), and law degree (1912; international law). Around 1907, he adopted the courtesy name Shaochuan. In 1908, he married his first wife, Chang Jun-e (Pinyin: Zhang Run'e); they were divorced in 1913. Returning to China shortly after, he became President Yuan Shikai's English Secretary and Foreign Secretary through veteran politician Tang Shaoyi. In 1914, he married Tang Shaoyi's daughter Tang Pao-yu (Pinyin: Tang Baoyue), with whom he would have a son, Koo Teh-chang (Pinyin: Gu Dechang) and a daughter, Koo Juzhen "Patricia". In Oct 1915, he was made the Chinese Minister to the United States and Cuba. Also in 1915, he received an honorary law degree from Yale University of New Haven, Connecticut, United States. In 1918, his second wife Tang passed away during an influenza epidemic in the United States. In 1919, he was a member of the Chinese delegation to the Paris Peace Conference. In Paris, France, when he learned of Japan's attempt to seize Shandong Province, a former German colony, from China, he argued fervently before the western powers, arguing that, besides the fact that Shandong was beyond any doubt Chinese territory, to ask the Chinese to willingly give up the home province of Confucius was akin to ask the Christians to abandon Jerusalem. Ultimately, Britain and France, fearing Japan would remove itself from the conference and thus threaten the legitimacy of the resulting treaty, the former German colony was granted to Japan. The entire delegation refused to sign the Treaty of Versailles. Later, Koo was involved in the formation of the League of Nations, which took place in 1920, and was briefly China's first representative after its founding. In late 1921, he served in the Chinese embassy in Britain. In 1921, he was a member of the Chinese delegation to the Washington Conference. In 1921, he married his third wife Oei Hui-lan (Pinyin: Huang Huilan) in Brussels, Belgium, with whom he would have two sons, Koo Yu-chang "Wellington, Jr." and Koo Fu-chang "Freeman". In 1922, he became the Chinese Beiyang Government's Foreign Minister, Finance Minister, interim premier, prime minister, and interim president. In Jun 1927, he stepped down as the Beiyang Government's interim president and moved to the British concession zone in Tianjin, China. In Jul 1928, the Nationalist Party forces successfully completed its Northern Expedition campaign and toppled the Beiyang Government. Having held high ranking positions with the Beiyang Government, he was initially placed on the wanted list, but with Zhang Xueliang's pledge of loyalty to Nationalist leader Chiang Kaishek, Koo was invited to join the Nationalist government.

ww2dbaseIn 1931, Koo was a member of the League of Nations delegation to Chinese investigating the Japanese invasion of northeastern China in a region historically known as Manchuria. Between 1936 and 1940, he was the Chinese Ambassador to France. In Apr 1941, he was made the Chinese Ambassador to Britain. Per usual diplomatic convention, Koo's appointment as ambassador required the British government's approval, and the approval did not come forth immediately due to the fact that the British government thought it would be best for the Chinese government to appoint a Nationalist Party member, which Koo was not. Chiang, who trusted Koo's capability, rejected British suggestion and instead convinced Koo to join the Nationalist Party in 1942, and British approval was given shortly after. He was the ambassador to Britain for the entirety of WW2, working closely with British authorities on the war particularly in the China-Burma-India theater, particularly in regards to joint Sino-Anglo-American military campaigns in Burma and the occupation policy of post-war French Indochina. In Jun 1945, as the head of the Chinese delegation to the San Francisco Conference, he became the very first person to sign the United Nations founding charter.

ww2dbaseIn 1946, Koo was made the Chinese Ambassador to the United States. The first years in this role was focused on the financial straits faced by post-war China. He argued at length with US Secretaries of State George Marshall, Dean Acheson, and Robert Lovett on pressuring Japan to make its reparation payments to China, on increased US investments in China, and on the expanding the Marshall Plan to include China. In 1948 and 1949, his focus shifted to attempts to draw direct US involvement into the Chinese Civil War, but to little avail, as American confidence in Chiang Kaishek had wavered (in fact, the US considered to back the exiled former Vice President Li Zongren should Chiang's political position faltered within the Nationalist Party). After the communists won the civil war, the Nationalist government relocated to Taiwan. At this time, Koo's name appeared as number 22 on a list of 43 "war criminals" published by the communists. In 1954, together with Foreign Minister Ye Gongchao, he was signatory of the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty, which, until 1980, formed a joint-defense scheme between the Republic of China and the United States against any potential Chinese communist aggression. In 1956, he retired from his position as ambassador and retired from Chinese diplomatic service. Shortly after, he became a judge at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands. Also in 1956, he divorced from his third wife Oei Hui-lan. In 1959, he married his fourth wife, Yen Yu-ying "Juliana" (Pinyin: Yan Youyun). Between 1964 and 1967, he was the Vice President of the International Court of Justice. He retired in 1967 and moved to New York. Koo passed away in 1985. He was buried at the Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum in Hartsdale, New York, United States.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia

Last Major Revision: Apr 2017

Wellington Koo Interactive Map


President Yuan Shikai with foreign dignitaries, Beijing, China, 10 Oct 1913Wedding portrait of V. K. V. K. V. K.
See all 24 photographs of Wellington Koo

Wellington Koo Timeline

29 Jan 1888 Vi Kyuin "Wellington" Koo was born in Jiading County, Jiangsu Province, China.
2 Jul 1924 Vi Kyuin "Wellington" Koo was made the interim premier of the Chinese Beiyang Government.
14 Sep 1924 Vi Kyuin "Wellington" Koo stepped down as the interim premier of Chinese Beiyang Government.
1 Oct 1926 Vi Kyuin "Wellington" Koo was made the intrim President of China.
1 Oct 1926 Vi Kyuin "Wellington" Koo was made the premier of Chinese Beiyang Government.
1 Jan 1927 Vi Kyuin "Wellington" Koo was made the prime minister of Chinese Beiyang Government.
16 Jun 1927 Vi Kyuin "Wellington" Koo stepped down as the intrim President of China.
21 Sep 1931 V. K. "Wellington" Koo, the Chinese delegate to the League of Nations, appealed to the international community over the Japanese attacks in northeastern China. The league would soon dispatch a delegation headed by British Lord V. A. G. R. Bulwer-Lytton to China to investigate.
26 Jun 1945 V. K. "Wellington" Koo led the 8-person Chinese delegation in the signing of the United Nations charter at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, California, United States.
27 Jun 1946 Vi Kyuin "Wellington" Koo was named the Chinese Ambassador to the United States.
17 Aug 1948 Chinese Ambassador to the United States V. K. "Wellington" Koo met with US Secretary of State George Marshall, urging him to accelerate the schedule for the delivery of military aid to Chinese Nationalists in the war against the Communists.
29 Sep 1948 Vi Kyuin "Wellington" Koo received a cable from US President Harry Truman expressing US support for China, which had just suffered a major defeat at the hands of the communists during the Chinese Civil War.
11 Nov 1948 Vi Kyuin "Wellington" Koo met with US Secretary of State Robert Lovett, seeking direct military aid for the Chinese Nationalists in the Chinese Civil War. Lovett rejected Koo's request.
14 Nov 1985 Vi Kyuin "Wellington" Koo passed away in New York, New York, United States.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Jeff says:
9 May 2019 12:16:34 AM

There is no references, which renders the contents unverified. An entry/article written in such non-academic or non- rigorous manner would be hard to be confidently cited.

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President Yuan Shikai with foreign dignitaries, Beijing, China, 10 Oct 1913
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