K. C. Wu

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Wu Kuo-Chen
K. C. Wu.jpg
Wu in 1953
3rd Chairman of Taiwan Provincial Government
In office
Preceded by Chen Cheng
Succeeded by Yu Horng-jiun
Mayor of Chongqing
In office
Preceded by He Guoguang
Succeeded by He Yaozu
Mayor of Shanghai
In office
August 1945 - May 1949
Preceded by Zhou Fohai
Succeeded by Chen Yi
Personal details
Born (1903-10-21)October 21, 1903
Qing Dynasty
Died June 6, 1984(1984-06-06) (aged 80)
Savannah, Georgia, United States
Nationality  Republic of China

K. C. Wu (Chinese: 吳國楨; pinyin: Wú Gúozhēn) (October 21, 1903 – June 6, 1984) was a Chinese political figure and historian.

Early life

K.C. Wu was born in Central China and grew up in Beijing, where his father served in the military. He studied at both Nankai High School, where Zhou Enlai was a classmate, and at Tsinghua University. In 1923, he earned a master's degree in economics from Grinnell College and, in 1926, a doctoral degree in political science from Princeton University.

Early career and personal life

After returning to China in 1926, Wu began a career in government service, first as a tax collector in Hankow (today part of Wuhan) for Hsia Tou-yin, a local warlord. In 1931, he married Edith Huang, daughter of Gene T. Huang. They eventually had four children: Eileen Wu, Edith Wu, H.K. Wu and Sherman Wu.[1] In 1932, he became mayor of Hankow. When the Yangtze River appeared ready to flood in 1936, Wu oversaw the construction of a huge dike system which saved the city.[2]

With the fall of Hankow to Japanese forces in October 1938 during the Second Sino-Japanese War, Wu and his family fled to Chungking. In 1939, Chiang Kai-Shek appointed him as mayor of Chungking, a position he held until 1942. He served as vice minister of Foreign Affairs from 1943-1945, interacting with Zhou Enlai as part of the united front against the Japanese. After the end of World War II in 1945, K.C. Wu became mayor of Shanghai, serving in that role until the Chinese Communists conquered the city in 1949.[2] While mayor of Shanghai, Wu met the Chicago Tribune's Robert McCormick and his wife Maryland. As the situation in Shanghai became less stable, Wu sent his two daughters to live with the McCormicks in Illinois.[3]

Activities after leaving Mainland China

Following the relocation of the Nationalist government to Taipei, Wu served as Governor of Taiwan from 1949 to 1953. Wu attempted to bring a greater degree of self-governance to the Taiwanese people, allowing for the election of certain local officials by popular vote. Wu also brought critics of Chen Yi into the government, and attempted to cut back on police brutality. Wu was opposed by many conservative members of the Nationalist government, including Chiang Ching-kuo and Chen Cheng. His liberal democratic ideas and critical moment of invasion of Communists do not go hand to hand[4]

On April 3, 1953, an alleged assassination was suspected. Seven days later, he was dismissed from his position as governor and he hastily left Taiwan. Wu's family, with the exception of one of his sons, left for the United States. In 1954, following his son's departure from Taiwan, Wu began to speak out against what he saw were serious problems with the Kuomintang government. That same year, Wu wrote an article in Look magazine entitled "Your Money is Building a Police State in Taiwan".[4]

At that time, the United States was attempting to forge an alliance with the Taiwan Central Government in order to secure a strong military chain to keep communism at bay. Thus, the idea of fighting the police state was low on the United States agenda. Following a lack of American response to his writings, K.C. Wu lived in the United States where he served as professor of Chinese history at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Georgia. During his time in the United States, he wrote various works, including a detailed analysis on Chinese culture in the context of mythology and early history in his book The Chinese Heritage.

Wu is remembered mainly for his vital role in the formation of a liberal modern Taiwan and his anti-communist beliefs typical of a member of Kuomintang, but he is also remembered for his brave anti-Kuomintang rhetoric and turbulent disagreements with the more Russian-styled Chiang Ching-kuo.


  1. "Obituaries: Edith Huang Wu"; Savannah Morning News, August 25, 2002. ([1])
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Man on the Dike"; Time, August 7, 1950. ([2])
  3. http://www.cantignypark.com/newsite/mccormickmansion2ndfloorguestbedrooms.htm
  4. 4.0 4.1 Formosa Betrayed by George H. Kerr; 1965, Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-306-70762-4. (text)
Political offices
Preceded by
He Guoguang
Mayor of Chongqing
Succeeded by
He Yaozu
Preceded by
Chen Cheng
Governor of Taiwan
Succeeded by
Yu Horng-jiun
Preceded by
Zhou Fohai
Mayor of Shanghai
Succeeded by
Chen Yi