H.K. Kwong

Hsu Kun Kwong (aka H.K. Kwong) was born in Canton, China in 1892. Unfortunately, nothing is currently known about his parents or family life. Much of the biographical information I present here is from various editions of ‘Who’s Who in China’. From these accounts he appears to be a remarkably intelligent and accomplished man. His resume is one of the most impressive I’ve ever come across in my research, and is presented here in bullet form:

1907: Admitted to the prestigious St. John's University in Shanghai (age 15).

1909: Obtained the government scholarship established with the returned indemnity fund, being second in the competitive examinations held for Chinese students to be sent to the United States. Upon arriving in America in September 1909, he entered Andover Academy and stayed there for one year.

1910-14: Admitted to Princeton University and received his degree of Litt. B. in 1914. While in college Mr. Kwong was popular, and was identified with many college activities.

1912-13: On the staff of the Springfield Republican.

1912-14: Served as an editor on the Daily Princetonian, being the first foreigner ever appointed on the editorial board of the paper. Also a member of the Key and Seal Club during this period.

1913: Member of the Municipal Club.

1914-15: Attended the Columbia University Graduate School specializing in economics. He was editor-in-chief of the Chinese Students’ Monthly, the official organ of the Chinese students in North America, and highlighted what were viewed as unfair immigration policies for Chinese vs Japanese and other countries.

1915: Served as Chinese delegate to the International Press Conference held in connection with the Panama Pacific Exhibition in San Francisco.

1915-16: Entered the Columbia School of Journalism in the fall of 1915, receiving his degree in 1916. During this period he was president of the Chinese Students’ Alliance.

1916: Returned to China, and became assistant editor of the Peking Gazette. At the same time he was the Peking Correspondent for the New York Evening Post.

1917: Accepted a professorship of English and later was lecturer on International Law at Tsing Hua College.

1918: Returned to Shanghai and was appointed secretary of the Kiangnan Dock and Engineering Works (age 26).

1922: Joined the Ministry of Communications, Peking, as assistant chief of the assets section of the railway department. The next month he received an appointment as expert in the Sino-Japanese Commission which handled the details of the redemption of the former German interests in Shantung to China following the Washington Conference.

1923: On the staff of the Chinese Eastern Railway

1926: Director of the Lung-Hai Railway, Hunan Province

1928: Organized the Intelligence and Publicity Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Nationalist Government, Nanking, serving as that organizations first Director.

1930: Appointed Chinese Consul General to the Philippines.

This is where his story becomes a bit muddy. The source for his appointment as Consul General and the photo of Kwong in his later years came from the ‘Who’s Who in the Philippines, Chinese Edition published in 1930. He is also referred to as Chinese Consul General in a January 1932 newspaper article discussing illegal immigration of Chinese into the Philippines.

The 1936 (5th Edition) of Who’s Who in China notes that he was a diplomat and died in 1934 (age 42) and references the 1934 (4th Edition), which does not currently appear to be available on-line. That same 1936 edition shows that a K.L. Kwong (aka Kuang Kuan-ling) was the Chinese Consul General of the Philippines beginning in November of 1930 to June 19th, 1934. This man appears totally unrelated to Hsu Kun. Quite odd. It also makes one question that if the 1936 edition made an error about the Consul Generalship, what other errors they made. References to him seem to disappear after 1934, so it assumed at this point they were correct about when he died.

Adding to the confusion, changing tastes on names over the years has meant that Hsu Kun Kwong’s name is later shown as ‘Hsu-kun Kuang’ or Xukun Kuang’.

His appointment as secretary of the Kiangnan Dock and Engineering Works was no accident and shows the importance of that contract to build the four sisters and the trust his leaders had in him. Hsu Kun Kwong was a staunch Nationalist, part of the Canton based Kuomintang (KMT) party. His considerable skills were needed to insure the project was a success. China had something to prove, and everyone was watching.

His later appointment to Consul General appears to have been at a critical point as well. It was a move to try and consolidate the Nationalist power in the Philippines, and prevent the communists from gaining more influence. It was also a move to try and counter the ever more aggressive Japanese in the Philippines. Kwong had been fighting for Chinese rights and sovereignty since he was a college student.

Hsu Kun Kwong appears to have been married. In a letter addressed to him dated July 31st, 1930 by the President of the Philippines, Manuel Quezon, the President apologizes for not being able to see he and Mrs.Kwong the day before. It is not known if they had any children. Hopefully one day more information about his final years will come to light.