Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A00565 - Eugene Chen, Sun Yat Sen's Foreign Minister

"The present scheme of Tuan Chi-jui appears to be the completion of his Master's scheme with the assistance of the Japanese. Though his soul was loaded with great iniquities, Yuan Shih-kai was too astute to lend himself to the furtherance of Japanese aims in China. This is reserved for a mind whose ignorance and stubbornness is interpreted as strength by fools and knaves."

Eugene Chen, "Selling China: A Secret Compact", Peking Gazette, Friday, May 18, 1917.

P.S. The following is an excerpt from the internet site authored by Yuan-tsung ("First Pearl") Chen, the wife of Jack Chen, the son of Eugene Chen (please note the photo of Jack). This excerpt is followed by two fuller biographies of Eugene Chen, the Afro-Chinese Foreign Minister of China under Sun Yat-sen.

This is an epic story of China’s rebirth as a nation in modern times. As Eugene Chen (my late father-in-law) said in my book, the Chinese people and civilization “had witnessed the rise and fall of empires in the valleys of the Nile and Euphrates…” Where are those empires? But in a sense, the Chinese Empire is still alive and kicking. Few nations have that kind of long continuity. Even fewer can say that their boundaries are hardly less than they have ever been. How come? Well, there is some clue in my book.
Actually my story does not begin with Eugene, but with his father Ah Chen, the first revolutionary of the Chen family. Ah Chen was a landless peasant, and could barely keep himself from dying of hunger, but he dared to dream. In 1850 he joined the Taiping Rebellion; inspired by Christian ideas, he strove with his comrades to establish God’s Kingdom on earth. When the Rebellion was crushed in 1864 by the Manchu Court of Qing Dynasty, Ah Chen refused to hole up in a back country and to be buried alive. He immigrated to Trinidad, then a British colony.
The second revolutionary of the Chen family was Eugene Chen whose Chinese name was Chen Youren, Ah Chen’s eldest son, born in 1878. He finished his education on scholarship and became the first Chinese lawyer in Trinidad. In late 1911, inspired by a speech by Sun Yatsen, the man who led the 1911 Revolution overthrowing the last Manchu Dynasty, Eugene decided to fight for his long-suffering homeland. All he had with him was his remarkable courage, which led him to set off for China, despite not having any knowledge of the maelstrom of Chinese politics that he was about to plunge into.
Thus Eugene embarked on an incredible journey of adventure. He took on warlords, would-be emperor, prime ministers, colonialists. Twice he was imprisoned and twice he escaped from the firing squad. Indeed, Eugene played a leading role, as Sun Yatsen’s closest aid, in preserving the Republic of China. Then he made so bold as to challenge the Allied Powers, led by President Woodrow Wilson, at the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919. Versailles was the Olympus of its time, and the gods were holding court there and deciding the fate of nations. But Eugene stole their  thunder and turned their Holy Mount upside down. This was a true-life story of David versus Goliath.
In 1925 Sun Yatsen died of cancer, and in 1926 Eugene’s wife Aisy also died of cancer. It was at this time, Eugene and Soong Chingling, widow of Sun Yatsen, fell in love. That was the year before the United Front of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party) and the Communist Party broke up. Eugene’s love affair with Soong Chingling blossomed under an overcast sky with dark clouds  rolling fiercely over their head.
In July of 1927, Eugene ignored the tempting overtures of Chiang Kaishek, the man most responsible for the split. He went with Soong Chingling to Russia on a revolution mission, hoping to get Moscow’s agreement to resuscitate the United Front, minus Chiang Kaishek.
In Moscow, Eugene and his children were royally received, banqueting in the Sugar Palace and watching ballet in the former imperial box, while at the same time they were stabbed in the back: Stalin planned to recognize Chiang Kaishek’s government at Nanjing, letting down the left-wing Kuomintang who refused to collaborate with Chiang, and leaving the Chinese Communist Party without support.
It was during Eugene’s last talk with Stalin that he fully realized how the dictator intended to use him and Chingling in a most demeaning manner in order to appease Chiang Kaishek. Outraged, Eugene went into self-exile in Paris. Since he and Soong Chingling could not go back to Chinatogether and resume their work there, they were forced to go their separate ways. This was a love story taking place in an enormous revolution, tinged with pain mixed with exaltation of an ancient Greek tragedy.
Now let me turn to the third revolutionary of the Chen family Jack, Eugene’s younger son (and my late husband). After his mother’s death, Jack left London for China to join his father in early February of 1927. The United Front was crumbling, and the right-wing Kuomintang generals began to purge the communists. Jack stumbled into Mao Zedong, then a lanky young man with thick, disheveled hair like an unruly peasant lad, and Zhou Enlai, young, handsome, debonair, with a taste for French literature and the beauty of Parisian women.
The two atheists were on the firing line. Jack, a devout Roman Catholic and out of Christian charity, sheltered them. The three young men became friends, and thus began Jack’s journey of Marxist adventure. In serving the revolution, he roamed through nearly all the major metropolises in this world: LondonShanghai, Peking, MoscowTokyoParisAmsterdamNew YorkWashingtonBerlin and so on. He was my Don Quixote, reaching for the unreachable. When I married him in 1958 and then during the violent purge, the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), I became his female Sancho Panza, doing all the errands that he was not able to do because of his lack of knowledge of the Chinese language and his being arrested by the Red Guards, the hit men of the purge.
In 1969, the Red Guards evicted us from our home and threw us into a slum house. My new neighbors included people who were from what could be described as “the lower depths”, such as a former prostitute, a semi-reformed thief, a beggar-turned-janitor, a cleaning woman who doubled as a bed playmate to her employer, an old witch who practiced black magic. Because many of them fell under the category of urban proletariat, they were more trusted by the Red Guards and had easier access to highly confidential documents which the Red Guards, in the confusion of anarchy and lawlessness, had stolen from the Party archives. Thus my new neighbors provided information necessary for our survival.
With their information as well as that from other sources, I helped Jack decide when to do what. I smuggled out Jack’s letters to his American brother-in-law, Jay Leyda, who was arranging a lecture tour for him in the USA. I managed to meet with Zhou Enlai, the prime minister, at a decisive moment that would finally get us off the Red Guards’ death row.
Writing from a special vantage point, as one of the Chen family and also a participant in the narrative I narrate, I am able to illuminate the historical events and fill quite a few gaps in the history of one of the most vital periods of modern China.
By blending the biographies of the three Chen men with history the way I did, I believe I can make the characters and places come alive, and dramatize the facts with details and anecdotes. The book reads like an intriguing history fused with an extraordinary three-generation family saga.

Jack Chen, Yanan base camp, China, 1938

Eugene Chen


EUGENE CHEN, four times Foreign Minister of Chinese government one of the most dynamic political figures of the twentieth-century, was born of Negro-Chinese-Spanish parentage in British West Indies. His family name was Akam.
Education for the law in England, he returned to Trinidad where but because of minor disagreements with the island he decided to cast his lot with the Chinese and left for where he became legal adviser to the Ministry of Communications 1912.
Two years later he founded The Peking Gazette, and being a polemist and fighter who knew but one tactic, a vigorous and attack, he selected as his chief target the strongest foe possible: the North China Daily News, chief spokesman of British interests in the Far East, the defender of capital, and the prestige and power Britain had built up in that region. At that commerce was centered in Shanghai, then a so-called settlement, but this commerce was chiefly for Britain's to some extent that of Japan, then an ally of Financial power was centered in the British Hong Kong Bank. As a result of his onslaughts, Chen was arrested in 1916 and thrown into a narrow cell with five lice-covered However because he was still a British subject and because extraterritoriality yet existed in China, he asserted that he was being illegally held and was released, apparently because of this, in 1917.
Undaunted, he now entered the enemy's stronghold, Shanghai, where he joined Dr. Sun Yat-sen, founder of Nationalist China, and became his personal adviser and private secretary, a position he held until Sun Yat-sen's death in 1925. He also founded The Shanghai Gazette, in which he renewed his attacks on British interests and was again thrown into prison, but was later freed.
In 1919 he was a delegate to the Versailles Conference where he formulated China's demands in clear, unmistakable terms. He demanded, among other things, the abolition of concession territories, insisting that all such be placed under a mixed Chinese and foreign administration with Chinese predominant. This demand later paved the way for China's victory over the extraterritorial powers formerly held by the white governments.
In 1922 he founded the Ming Pao, or People's Tribune, and became chief adviser to the Southern Government of China. In an effort to build up Chinese commerce, not for the benefit of the whites and the Japanese, but the Chinese, he led a strike and a boycott principally against British interests. He asked the Chinese not to speak English and not to use English ships nor to buy and sell British-made goods. This had such effect that in 1926 the British yielded and asked for a conference in which most of Chen's demands were granted and out of which came the Chen-O'Malley Agreement in which Britain returned to China the rich port of Hankow.
In 1927, while Foreign Minister, he was instrumental in preventing war between China on one hand and Britain and the United States on the other. White people had been mobbed by the Chinese in Nanking and from southern China had come terrible rumors of the violation of white women. The result was a great outcry for military intervention and the world "stood at the eve of a war in which the Russian-Asiatic and the capitalistic-western powers would clash." President Coolidge had already dispatched American marines to the scene, but Chen stepped into the breach and in an eloquent note to the white powers expressed China's willingness for peace. He said that he was willing to have the disturbances thoroughly investigated, asking only that the verdict, whether it be for or against China, be just. This frankness had such an effect on President Coolidge that he recalled the marines and in a public address declared for peace to the great discontent of the interests who wanted war in order to gain greater power in China.
The same year, however, due largely to European intrigue there was a split between the Nanking and the Wuhan governments and Chen retired to France, but returned in 1931 to become Foreign Minister of the Canton Government.
While in China Chen married Miss Chang Tsing-ying, daughter of Chang Chen-kiang, head of the Cheking Provincial Government.
The New York Times in its obituary of Chen (May 21, 1944) says:
Eugene Chen, British-born Chinese publisher and politician, was four times Foreign Minister in various Chinese Governments and twice was a refugee when his political fortunes were at low ebb.
An early member of the Kuomintang and one of the first to support Sun Yat Sen, Mr. Chen was at times a bitter enemy of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and on other occasions was outwardly his ally. However, since 1941 he had been in Shanghai, apparently harbored by the Japanese, with whom he had on several occasions in the Nineteen Twenties and Nineteen Thirties conducted involved negotiations.
When Chiang Kai-shek was friendly with the Soviet Union Mr. Chen was Foreign Minister of the Russian-dominated Hankow Government, unofficially run by Borodin and Bluecher. In 1927, after the collapse of the Hankow Government, Mr. Chen fled to Russia when Borodin staged his famous "retreat across the Gobi Desert," and with him went other Chinese leaders with left-wing tendencies.


Eugene Chen 陈友仁 (1878-1944), born in San Fernando, Trinidad, was known in his youth as Eugene Bernard Achan. He was an Overseas Chinese lawyer who in the 1920s became Sun Yat-sen's foreign minister known for his success in promoting Sun's anti-imperialist foreign policies.[2]



[edit] Early years: an Overseas Chinese discovers China

Chen's father, Chen Guangquan, a member of a Cantonese Hakka family, was known as Joseph Chen or Achan. After taking part in the Taiping Rebellion against the Manchu dynasty, he and his wife fled to the French West Indies, where the French authorities required them to accept the Catholic faith as a condition of immigration. Eugene was the oldest of their three sons. After attending Catholic schools in Trinidad, Eugene Chen qualified as a barrister, and became known as one of the most highly skilled solicitors in the islands.[3] The family did not speak Chinese at home, and since there were no Chinese schools, he also did not learn to read Chinese. It was later said of him that his library was filled with Dickens, Shakespeare, Scott, and legal books, that he "spoke English as a scholar"; "except for his color, neither his living nor his habits were Chinese." [4]
Chen eventually left the island to live in London, where he heard Sun Yat-sen speak at a rally against the Manchu government in China. Sun persuaded him to come to China and contribute his legal knowledge to the new Republic in 1912. Chen took the Trans-Siberian Railroad, and shared the journey with Wu Lien-te, a physician born in Malaysia. Learning that Chen had no Chinese name, Wu suggested "Youren" as the equivalent of "Eugene."
After Sun was forced to flee to Japan in 1913, Chen remained in Peking, where he began a second career in journalism. Chen edited the bilingual Peking Gazette 1915-1917, then founded the Shanghai Gazette, the first of what Sun envisioned as a network of newspapers across China.[5] Chen had given up his initial support for Yuan Shikai and became a strong critic of the government, accusing it of "selling China." [6] In 1918, Chen joined Sun in Canton to support the southern government, which he helped to represent at the Paris Peace Conference, where he resisted Japanese and British plans for China. In 1922, Chen became Sun's closest adviser on foreign affairs, and developed a leftist stance of anti-imperialist nationalism and support of Sun's alliance with the Soviet Union.[7]

[edit] Chen's revolutionary diplomacy

Chen's diplomacy led one historian to call him "arguably China's most important diplomat of the 1920s and instrumental in the rights recovery movement." [8] Chen welcomed Sun's alliance with the Soviet Union, and worked harmoniously with Michael Borodin, the chief Soviet advisor in the reorganization of the Nationalist Party at Canton. After Sun's death in 1925, Chen was elected to the Central Executive Committee and appointed Foreign Minister. Over the next two years, Chen lodged vigorous and articulate protests over continued imperialist policies with the American and British governments, as well as negotiating with the British authorities over the massive labor strikes in Hong Kong. When Chiang Kai-shek's Northern Expedition appeared on the verge of unifying the country, Chen joined the rival Nationalist government at Wuhan. In January 1927, the Nationalists at Wuhan forcibly took control over the foreign concession there, and when violent crowds also took the foreign concession at Kiukiang, foreign warships gathered at Shanghai. Chen's negotiations with the British led to confirmation of Chinese control of the two concessions and this success was hailed as the start of a new revolutionary foreign policy. The situation soon reversed. The foreign powers retaliated for the deadly xenophobic attacks on foreigners by elements of the National Revolutionary Army in Nanking, and Chiang Kai-shek launched White Terror attacks on leftists in Shanghai.[9] Chen sent Borodin, his sons Percy and Jack Chen, and the American leftist journalist Anna Louise Strong in an automotive convoy across Central Asia to Moscow. He, his daughters Si-lan and Yolanda,Mme. Sun Yat-sen, and the American journalist Rayna Prohme traveled from Shanghai to Vladivostok, and once again by Trans-Siberian Railway to Moscow.[10]

1927 Chen and Soong Qingling in Moscow
Life in Moscow was not easy, however. After an initial warm public reception, Stalin showed little tolerance for living symbols of the Soviet failure in China. Chen and Mme. Sun were frustrated in their attempts to establish a leftist Chinese front, and soon left Moscow. After a period of exile in Europe and brief service with governments in China which challenged the Nanking government, Chen was finally expelled from the Guomindang for serving as Foreign Minister in the Fukien Rebellion of 1934. He again took refuge in Europe, but returned to Hong Kong after the outbreak of the war with Japan. He was taken to Shanghai in the spring of 1942 in hopes of persuading him to support the Japanese puppet government, but he remained loudly critical of that "pack of liars" until his death in May, 1944, at the age of 66.[11]

[edit] Chen's family

In 1899, Chen married Agatha Alphosin Ganteaume (1878-1926), a French creole natural daughter of good family. They had eight children, four of whom survived childhood: Percy (1901-1986), a lawyer, worked with his father for many years; (Sylvia) Silan (1905-1996), an internationally known dancer, married the American film historian Jay Leyda; Yolanda (1913- ); and Jack (1908-1995), who made an international reputation as a journalistic cartoonist during the Sino-Japanese War, and who wrote A Year In Upper Felicity, an account of his experience in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution.[12] In 1958 Jack married Chen Yuan-tsung.
After the death of Alphosin in 1926, Chen and Chang Li Ying, or Georgette Chen were married in 1930 and remained together until his death in 1944.


Eugene Chen: revolutionary and iron-fist diplomat

Eugene Chen (陈友仁), considered by some as China’s “most important diplomat of the 1920s”, was born in Trinidad, then a British colony. His father, Chen Guangquan, known as Achan, was the first revolutionary in the family. Achan took part in the Taiping Rebellion (太平天国运动) against the Qing Dynasty and when the rebellion was crushed by the Manchus, fled the country on a British ship as a stoker which took him to Trinidad.
Eugene was the oldest of Achan's nine children. In 1899, he became the first Chinese lawyer in Trinidad as well as in the Caribbean region, perhaps also in the world. Raised as a Catholic, Eugene did not speak any Chinese. Through his work as a lawyer and property investor, he made a good living in Trinidad.
Eugene Chen. Photo: Courtesy of I-wan Chen
In 1911, when he was living in London, he learned about the revolution in China and decided to come back and serve the country which, despite having never been to, he still considered as his own. He came to Beijing straight from London and worked for the Beiyang Government, then headed by Yuan Shikai (袁世凯), as a legal advisor with the Transportation Ministry. According to I-wan, he submitted his passport to the British Embassy with the words "I am not a British anymore, I am a Chinese."
In 1913, Eugene quit his job with the government and worked as Chief Editor first with the Peking Daily News and then with the Peking Gazette (京报) which he founded. Patriotic and revolutionary, he did what was within his power to support the Chinese revolution, publishing and writing anti-imperialist articles which often contained caustic criticism of the government. These articles brought him to the attention of Sun Yat-sen (孙中山).
In 1915, when Liang Qichao (梁启超), a well-known Chinese scholar and reformist, wrote his famous article 异哉所谓国体问题者against Yuan Shikai’s attempt to revive the Chinese Monarchy, Peking Gazette was the only newspaper to agree to publish it, which was a very brave move. The article was then reprinted by other newspapers and became a big sensation at the time.
On May 18, 1917, he wrote an article titled “Selling China” in which he revealed the secret negotiation between the then premier of Republic of China, warlord Duan Qirui (段祺瑞) and the Japanese on the notorious Twenty-One Demands (二十一条), stirring up a big disturbance in China which landed him in jail. He could have easily avoided the imprisonment by declaring his British citizenship as suggested to him by his friends, but he chose not to do so.
After four months in prison, Eugene was released only to face the closing of his newspaper, another retaliatory act by the government to shut him up. He left Beijing and went south to join Sun Yat-sen. In Shanghai, he established another newspaper Shanghai Gazette (上海时报) as Sun advised, which carried out the same tradition of the Peking Gazette, denouncing the government for yielding to the Japanese imperialists.
In 1918, he joined Sun in Guangzhou, then called Canton, and became his close advisor. To support Sun's revolutionary work, he even persuaded his wife to return to Trinidad and sell all their property.
Eugene Chen. Photo: Courtesy of I-wan Chen
In 1919, he drafted the memorandum which was adopted by the Chinese delegation and submitted to the Versailles Peace Conference in France. While in Paris, he was approached by the Russians who gave him the original copies of the Lansing-Ishii Agreement, a secret agreement between the Americans and the Japanese to transfer the interest of the Germans in Shandong province (山东省) to the Japanese.
Eugene immediately sent one copy to Sun, who published it in China, which was believed to be one of the factors that triggered the history-changing May 4th Movement (五四运动). Another copy was sent to the Republican senator William Borah in the US, and was believed to have played a role in the success of the Republican Party in the coming presidential election.
The famous Three Policies of the Kuomingtang party, “Unite with Russia, Unite with the Communists and Help the Peasants and Workers” (联俄联共,扶助农工) that were issued in 1924 were the brain child of Sun Yat-sen and four KMT veterans, including Eugene Chen, who had become Sun’s close ally and developed a leftist stance of anti-imperialist nationalism and support for Sun's alliance with the Soviet Union. He also drafted Sun’s “Will to Soviet Union”, one of his three wills, the original copy of which was returned to China by the Russian government on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries in 2009.
The apex of Eugene’s diplomatic career came after he became the foreign minister of the Wuhan Government (武汉国民政府). He was mostly remembered for his contribution in recovering the sovereignty of the Hankow & Jiujiang British Concession (汉口、九江英租界) in 1927, which was quite a feat considering China’s weak position at the international stage at the time.
The succesful recovery, to a large extent, was achieved through a clever ruse by Chen. As a lawyer, Eugene knew well that according to the British law, when the property is completely abandoned, the Chinese government has the right to take it back. To that end, he advised to the British who came to him for help fearing for their safety, that they should retreat to their warships on the Yangtze River where they could be protected by the British Navy. So the British left, leaving only the Indian police at the concession who were then invited for drinks and lured away.
The British Government reacted by sending the Indian Fleet to the China Sea, which Eugene had known all along by collecting garbage from the British Consulate and piecing together cables that were sent to London. He knew that the ships would come at the low season which means they cannot came up the river. In the end, the British government was forced to concede and return the sovereignty of the concession back to the Chinese.
In this photo of the third meeting of the second Central Committee of the Kuomingtang on March 10, 1927, Eugene Chen (third from right in the front line) is sitting right in front of Mao Zedong (毛泽东, third from right in the second line). Photo: Courtesy of Chen I-wan
In 1927, Chiang Kai Shek (蒋介石) set up the nationalist government in Nanjing and failed to win the support of Eugene who was loyal to the leftist government in Wuhan. Later that year, he accompanied Song Qingling to Moscow and from there went to Europe. Throughout the rest of his life, he struggled to fight Chiang and his policies which resulted in his repeated exile in Europe during the 1930s.
After the outbreak of China’s war with Japan, Eugene returned to Hong Kong. In 1941, while waiting for a possible appointment as the Chinese representative in the League of Nations, he was captured by the Japanese and put under house arrest. Later he was taken to Shanghai where the Japanese worked hard on him trying to persuade him to take the position of foreign minister in Wang Jingwei’s (汪精卫) puppet government, but without success.
In 1944, Eugene suffered from a tooth illness. A few days after being treated by a Japanese doctor, he passed away. His remains were allegedly reburied in the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery (八宝山革命公墓) in Beijing after the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Eugene Chen’s grave at Babaoshan. Photo: Courtesy of Chen I-wan


A rebel Trinidadian, who never learnt to speak Chinese fluently, never even liked Chinese food eventually became the Foreign Minister of China, after establishing himself as the backbone of the government of Sun Yat-Sen, the first president and founding father of the Republic of China.

Eugene Chen, the ultimate Trinidadian was born in San Fernando in 1876, of mixed heritage that included Chinese, African and Spanish.

The St Mary's College graduate became the first lawyer of Chinese descent in the Caribbean having studied in London, after which he returned home to marry a black woman, Agatha Alphonsin Ganteaume, against his parents’ wishes.

But in 1912, Chen left Trinidad aiming to join the Chinese Nationalist Movement, headed by Sun Yat-Sen.
Once in China, he started the Peking Gazette, writing articles against the British colonial powers, in English.

Five years later he fearlessly published an article revealing secret negotiations between the then Premier of China, warlord Duan Qirui and the Japanese, which landed him in jail.

This got the attention of Sun Yat-Sen and four months later, a free man, Eugene left Beijing and went to join Sun in Shanghai, where he established the Shanghai Gazette and became Sun’s confidante and legal advisor.

He led a boycott against the British interest in China, causing Britain to back down and to sign the Chen-O’Malley Agreement in February 1927 which paved the way for Hong Kong to be returned to China 70 years later.

Eugene Chen never returned to Trinidad but died in 1944 branded as one of the most important Chinese diplomats of the 1920s.

In a 1931 publication on China, Time Magazine called Eugene Chen “the brains, the master propagandist of China and a fearless editor in his own right”.

Feb 3 – Eugene Chen: Lawyer, Statesman and Revolutionary

Eugene Chen
Today marks the start of Chinese New Year: The Year of the Rabbit. In honor of this holiday, today’s profile is of Eugene Chen, born in Trinidad, 133 years ago, of African-Chinese-Spanish parentage.

Born Eugene Barnard Acham (he later took on the name of Chen), to immigrant shopkeepers, he was educated at St. Mary’s College, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. In 1893, he was admitted to the London Bar Association and subsequently, built a large law practice inTrinidad, with many Chinese and Indian clients.

After being admitted to the Bar, Eugene married the love of his life, Agatha Alphonsin Ganteaume, in 1899 – despite the ‘ironic’ objections of his family. Agatha was the Creole daughter of a French, naval Admiral, who had fled to The West Indies fromFrance, as a supporter of Napoleon. By accounts, Agatha was fun and mischievous and terrorized the nuns at St. Joseph’s Convent, where she attended school. Eugene and Agatha had four children, Percy, Sylvia, Yolanda and Jack. All of their children were accomplished, including Sylvia, who was a star in the New York City Ballet Company and once engaged to Harlem Renaissance, African-American poet, Langston Hughes.

Agatha Alphonsin Ganteaume Chen (Acham)

Chen children in Moscow, with Russian friends
Eugene was able to amass a small fortune from his law practice and a cocoa plantation, which he owned in Manzanilla; but he managed to get himself into serious, financial difficulty; and in 1912, fled to PekingChina to become a legal adviser to the Ministry of Communications – initially leaving his family behind. 1912 also marked the one-year anniversary of the revolution to overthrow the last Imperial Qing Dynasty, led by Dr. Sun Yat Sen – resulting in the creation of the Chinese National People’s Party (a.k.a.  Kuomingtang).

Once in ChinaEugene started three major newspapers, over several years, The Peking GazetteThe Shanghai Gazette andPeople’s Tribune; and eventually became Sun Yat Sen's legal adviser and his Foreign Minister, until the latter’s death in 1925. From 1926-34, Eugene served as the Foreign Minister for three, different Chinese governments.  In the early 1920s, Eugene led a boycott against British commercial interests, which eventually resulted in Britain conceding and signing The Chen-O’Malley Agreement, allowing for Hong Kong to be finally returned toChina, in 1997. Chen was often arrested and jailed for his newspapers’ denouncement of the German, French and British control over China. However, ironically, because he was a British citizen, he was always released.

Chinese Delegation to First League of Nations Meeting, Geneva, 1920
Eugene Chen is front row, second from the right

Time Magazine called Eugene Chen, “The brains of the Chinese Revolution."  Some say that “he blended Marxism, Confucianism and Communism to support his personal agenda for China.” Eugene also spent years working closely with Russian agents to strengthen the Chinese Communist Party. He was exiled to Hong Kong by political rivals in the 1930s, but was able to return toChina several years later, before his death.

Eugene Chen died in China in 1944, ‘under mysterious circumstances’, never having learned to fluently speak Chinese and never having returned to Trinidad. He saw his family sporadically, when time permitted, who had moved fromTrinidad, to the UKChinaRussia and pre-War Germany. He married a second time, in the 1930s after Agatha’s death a few years earlier; and he is buried at The Mountain of Eight Treasures Revolutionary Martyr Cemetery in Beijing.

Eugene Chen's Gravestone

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